Ivan Buva Rytas Vilnius Basketball Champions League
Photo: FIBA Basketball

Rytas Vilnius did not have a successful maiden campaign in the Basketball Champions League last season, but they are back with a bang this time around, led by their towering man in the middle Ivan Buva.

Rytas are up to 2-2 in Group H, they were inches away from being up at 3-1, but they lost the overtime thriller in Istanbul to Besiktas Icrypex 82-79. They then hit them back in Lithuania, winning 82-69, taking the tiebreaker in case of a potential tie at the end of the Regular Season.

With Buva in the middle, life seems much easier for coach Giedrius Zibenas. The 30-year-old Croat had 39 points in those two November games against Besiktas, dominating under the rim to earn the MVP of November award in the Basketball Champions League.

“Individual awards mean a lot, but I would’ve rather two wins over Besiktas, because our goal for the season was to advance to the next round and get as far as possible in the BCL,” Buva told us after hearing the good news.

It was, and wasn’t a surprise, all at once.

“It’s a nice surprise really. I didn’t expect it, despite playing well against Besiktas. But I’m feeling good this season, I feel like I’ve scored 20 or more in every game, and if I don’t score 20 or more, it’s like I didn’t even show up for the game,” the center laughed.