Linas Kleiza may not be with Lithuania national team this summer but he’s following the team closely and is looking forward to the coming World Cup.
Silver medal winner and All-Tournament team member at EuroBasket 2013 last year in Slovenia shared his thoughts with DELFI.lt.
“The [World Cup] favourites are clear. I say that Spaniards will the tournament. The Americans will probably play in the final bu they won’t have all their stars. It’s a very good chance for Spain to win. Apart from Spain, the only team from Europe that I’d name among the favourites is Lithuania. There’s also an unpredictable Serbia national team. I’m not confident in Serbians, they achieved nothing serious after their ‘old wolves’ left. But now a new coach joined, anything can happen. Croatia is also among those teams that could surprise many, then it’s Brazil, Argentina, even though the latter is aging.”, Kleiza was confident that the World Cup hosts will triumph on home soil.
Kleiza shared a common opinion these days that Lithuania is a medal contender, though warned that in such tournaments everything depends on a single game and in therefore anything could happen on a given day.
He was confident that the there are players who will be prepared to take crucial shots at the end of the game, a task that was often given to Kleiza, come the World Cup.
Jonas Valanciunas has been one of the most discussed players on the team with fans having high expectations in the Toronto Raptors’ center. Despite not having a personally great tournament last year at EuroBasket 2013, Valanciunas looks to be improved this year.
“Jonas completed a good season, he got even stronger. He mostly missed a couple of moves so that he doesn’t have to break everything by force. Now he’s more universal, he’s worked the whole summer. Basically, he could be completely unstoppable”, said Kleiza.
Kleiza’s absence from the national team this year does not mean that he won’t suit up for Lithuania again:
“It now depends on both sides: my game and my health as well as the priorities of the national team. I have never closed the door and will never do that. I played for the national teams since I was fourteen, I have given all the summers, and now the time has come to sort my health and all other things so that I can have a good season again. That’s why I made this difficult decision. Of course, I want to play, I want to be with the team , represent my country. It’s something special. I spoke with RObertas Javtokas – he said the same thing. We’ll see how things go”.
Watch the full interview in Lithuanian below: