Ramunas Butautas might not be the last coach to be fired from Zalgiris by Vladimir Romanov this season. Krepsinis.net reports that Darius Maskoliunas was not even allowed to travel with the team to Vilnius to play the third game of LKL finals. Security was told not to let the coach on the team bus. However, the players showed support to their coach and left the bus. Then the decision was made to let Maskoliunas coach Zalgiris in this game.
There are at least a couple of potential motives why the previously mentioned incident occurred. According to one theory, Maskoliunas refused to intentionally lose LKL finals so that their arch rivals Lietuvos Rytas will get a direct qualification to the next year’s Euroleague. This topic has been widely discussed in Lithuanian media for a while now. Maskoliunas himself ruled out the possibility of letting Rytas win LKL.The fact that Romanov’s football club FBK Kaunas was involved in match fixing scandals in Lithuanian league doesn’t make this theory less likely to be true.
The other explanation of the decision to fire Maskoliunas is less related to conspiracy theories. Vladimir Romanov is said to be very disappointed with the way his team lost the game two of LKL finals which was played in Kaunas.
On the other hand, both teams exchanged wins throughout the regular season and this fact is a clear indication that there’s little between the quality of Rytas and Zalgiris. Losing the game at home after a win in Vilnius shouldn’t surprise anyone. Moreover, replacement of the third coach in one season in the middle of LKL finals because of a single loss is rather an extraordinary event.
It is also possible that the coach got in a conflict with the owner because of the methods of his work. During the short period of time when Ramunas Butautas was the head coach, there was a serious disagreement between him and Romanov who decided that there must be some boxing elements included in the training. There were also reports that Romanov was giving orders to the coach by telling which players should play and when they need to be substituted.
Darius Maskoliunas is the third head coach for Zalgiris this season after Gintaras Krapikas and Ramunas Butautas. Zalgiris is currently losing 1-2 against Rytas in LKL finals following today’s 81-83 loss in Vilnius. Maskoliunas was asked about the incident during the press conference but he refused to make any comments.