Sarunas Jasikevicius talked to Gazzetta.gr‘s Antonis Kalkavouras about his life in Vilnius, Lietuvos Rytas and didn’t forget to mention Panathinaikos. Read the entire interview.
– It seems that your transfer to Lietuvos Rytas is already bearing fruits, on personal and on team level. Since you joined Rytas the team has a 3-2 record (in Euroleague), and from the point of no return (initial 0-4 record) you beat Euroleague Champions Barcelona and Top16 is now at your hands.
“Almost in our hands, because in theory we might have an easy game in Zagreb but Fenerbahce have to beat Cholet in Turkey, as well. The good thing is that Fenerbahce has a motive to win the game to top Barcelona for the 2nd spot of the group. We shall see… Nothing is for granted in Euroleague this season, anything goes.”
– Did you expect that you could beat Barcelona?
“Truth is that in the last five games (and since the tragic game in Siena) the team is improving. We needed time to get a rhythm going and in sports the addition of one player rarely brings immediate results. Don’t forget that I’m in Vilnius for barely a month. As for the game against Barcelona we started the game with no pressure, we knew they were not in the best shape and we were determined to give everything we had, and see what would come out of it. We played an amazing game on offense as no other team has scored 88 or more points against Barcelona this season (in fact if one excludes the 87 by Caja Laboral, no team has scored more than 78 points against Barcleona).”
– You in particular seemed to enjoy the game very much. We saw one of your signature no-look passes and when Barcelona was getting closer you drained a three making the score 81-76.
“It was good (laughs)… I missed the action a lot and now that my body and feet are feeling better I was ready to step in. Since I left Barcelona I rarely play good against them and I wanted to put an end to this streak, and mainly help my team to get the win which would give us chances to go through to the next phase.”
– In case Rytas do go trough, you will by 66.6% get to face one of Panathinaikos or Olympiacos or even one of your former teams (Panathinaikos or Maccabi Tel Aviv)… Have you thought about returning to OAKA as an opponent?
“I don’t think about that at all, at the moment, and to be honest I don’t care. Let us qualify first and then whatever happens will happen. If it happens it will not be the easiest thing to do.”
– What do you think of the Panathinaikos vs Olympiacos battle this season?
“Panathinaikos has some injury problems but from the games I’ve seen it is clear that this team has got character, they fight all the games and is, more than even, dependent on Diamantidis. Many of my friends from Greece tell me that Olympiacos has improved and could even be better than Panathinaikos. But from I’ve seen so far, I’m not convinced that is the case. In any case I do believe there will be a great fight in all three competitions between them. I would love to watch Spanoulis’ return to OAKA from inside the arena or on TV, but unfortunately I don’t have NOVA (Greek pay-TV) here in Lithuania.”
– You reckon we could see a Panathinaikos vs Olympiacos semi-final in Euroleague Final Four this season?
“It’s impossible to make predicitons due to the nature of the competition this year. It’s one the most unpredictable seasons. No traditional powerhouse is making a difference and if Barcelona end up on the 3rd spot of their group things will become even more complicated because they could be paired up with one of Maccabi TA, Panathinaikos and Olympiacos and anything could happen.”
– How is life back at home? How is the weather?
“As we speak it is snowing and the temperature is -11. Generally speaking it’s OK, definitely much better than in the beginning because now I have my baby girl and my wife with me, so I couldn’t possibly ask for anything more! It’s a bit weird because I will be spending Christmas with all of my relatives for the first time in many years, but it feels good.”