A legend will take his place at the head of the bench of his home-town Euroleague club after Zalgiris Kaunas announced on Wednesday that Sarunas Jasikevicius will be its head coach until the end of the 2017-18 season. Jasikevicius – known throughout European basketball simply as Saras – replaces Gintaras Krapikas, for whom he had been an assistant coach for the last season-and-a-half. Jasikevicius was originally designated as interim head coach for the club’s Lithuanian League game on Sunday, a win against Vytautas. Today’s announcement confirmed agreement on a contract that runs for the rest of this season and two more. The 39-year old Jasikevicius, a native of Kaunas, spent the 2013-14 season, his last as an active player, with Zalgiris. This will be his first head coaching experience. In addition, Zalgiris announced that Darius Songaila will move up to full-time assistant and Darius Maskoliunas will join coaching staff as an assistant, too.
Jasikevicius always seemed destined for coaching as one of the most successful point guards in Euroleague history. He was designated a Euroleague Basketball Legend last year after a 16-year professional career that saw him collect four Euroleague titles. His first came with FC Barcelona in 2003, the next two with Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2004 and 2005, and the last with Panathinaikos Athens in 2009. Jasikevicius is the only player ever to become club champion of Europe with three different teams or to win three titles in a row with more than one team. In addition to those three clubs, he wore the uniforms of Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius, Union Olimpija Ljubljana, NBA teams Indiana and Golden State, Fenerbahce Istanbul and Zalgiris.
In addition to his four Euroleague titles, Jasikevicius’s trophy case boasts the 2005 Final Four MVP award and two All-Euroleague First Team trophies. He was voted one of the 50 Greatest Contributors to the first half-century of Euroleague history in 2008 and to the Euroleague All-Decade Team covering 2000 to 2010. Jasikevicius also won the gold medal at EuroBasket 2003 and bronze medals at the 2000 Olympic Games and EuroBasket 2007 with Lithuania. He was a national and/or cup champion in six countries: Slovenia, Spain, Israel, Greece, Turkey and Lithuania.