Lithuanian star Donatas Motiejunas has unequivocally put to rest any faint hopes that he could possibly conclude his rehabilitation in time to bolster the national team’s frontcourt at EuroBasket 2015.
“There is no way (to play in the summer),” the 24-year-old Lithuanian international told delfi.lt on Tuesday.
“The doctors and the team [Rockets] have never forbid me to play for the national team, but this year it is simply impossible.”
The Houston Rockets power-forward was included in early May on Lithuania’s 25-strong EuroBasket preliminary roster, despite undergoing surgery (lumbar microdiscectomy) in April that forced him to miss the end of the NBA regular season and his team’s play-off run.
The operation was necessary for Motiejunas to eliminate the back spasms which troubled him for large part of the season, but it came with the high price of a long lay-off, with his rehabilitation now likely to last up until even late August.
“One of my legs is right now 15 to 20 percent weaker than the other,” Motiejunas said.
“This injury has been one of the toughest challenges of my life.”
Lithuania will have to find the player who will accompany Jonas Valanciunas in their froncourt at the EuroBasket and -partially at least- make up for Motiejunas’ contribution.
The Rockets big man is in agreement with those who believe that a possible replacement could come from one of the youngest members on the Lithuania preliminary roster, in the shape of 19-year-old Domantas Sabonis.
“I think we have a number of players who can play on the national team and it will not be a problem,” Motiejunas said modestly.
“I’ve met Domantas in Houston, when he played there with his university [Gonzaga].
“It’s not up to me to assess his chances to make the team, I am not the coach.
“But as far as I know he is trying to work hard and I think that not only, here but also in America everybody has high expectations from him.”
Motiejunas averaged 7.4 points and four rebounds at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, as Lithuania reached the semi-finals in the tournament in Spain.
Full story at fibaeurope.com