Zalgiris made London its own tonight and for the mass population of Lithuanians living in the British capital, it gave them a chance to see their heroes from the home land.
The Mayor of Kaunas, Visvaldas Matijosaitis, and Euroleague Basketball President and CEO Jordi Bertomeu were among the 6,000 that filled the CopperBox Arena and for the latter, who tried to expose the EuroLeague product in 2013 when the O2 Arena hosted the Final Four believes that the sport in the U.K, where basketball is still considered a minor game has a market.
“You can see from being here how that special Zalgiris spirit fits London well, as the fans here are just as passionate and dressed in their team colors as at home,” Mr. Bertomeu said.
“It shows that even in cities where the EuroLeague doesn’t have teams and cannot play games regularly, there is a market for our unique brand of basketball.”
“The party atmosphere showed once again how much Lithuanians love basketball, and how much they miss their country,” Zalgiris head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius said after the game.
“It was just an amazing atmosphere and I wish we can do this more often because you can really see you are making people happy. It is very nice. I hope they enjoyed it! The new guys will understand what kind of team they came to. I hope they enjoyed this type of support, which has always been famous for Zalgiris. It was a great evening.”
Zalgiris drafted Polish league side Polski Cukier Torun 87-61. It marked the first time that a EuroLeague side has played a pre-season game in the U.K..