Kestutis Kemzura announced the list of candidates for both – the main men’s national team and the reserve team, lrytas.lt reports. Two players could be making their debut at the national team if they are eventually picked from the first team list. Meanwhile reserve squad features only one player who has national team experience. Veteran guards Sarunas Jasikevicius and Rimantas Kaukenas were not included in the list despite their recent comments that they are willing to represent their country if they are healthy.
Other notable players who were left out are Zydrunas Ilgauskas of Celeveland Cavaliers, Darius Songaila of New Orleans Hornets and Ramunas Siskauskas of CSKA Moscow. Despite being called up every year for the past decade, Ilgauskas has never showed and it’s very clear that the 34-year-old is not considered as a realistic addition to the national team. Meanwhile both Songaila and Siskauskas have already retired from the national team. Although didn’t rule out the possibility of helping his country next year in Eurobasket 2011 which will be hosted in Lithuania.
Two guards looking for debuts
Although there are two new players on the first team candidates’ list, there is no surprise to see them being included. Martynas Gecevicius of Lietuvos Rytas could even end up being the starting shooting guard of Lithuania after his breakout season at club level. 21-year-old rising star led his team in scoring in Euroleague with 14.2 points per game. He also had an impressive field goal percentages with 51.2% two-point shots made and 45.2% shooting from down town.
The second player who could be wearing men’s national team jersey for the first time in his career is Martynas Pocius. Zalgiris guard returned to Europe after four years in NCAA with Duke and instantly found himself as an important part of the team. Despite normally starting the game on the bench, Pocius was the top scorer of Zalgiris for a number of games, including Euroleague. The downside of his game is his inconsistency. But that can be attributed to his first pro year.
A bunch of familiar faces
The rest of the first team candidates have all played for the national team in the past. Eleven players on that list were present at the disastrous Eurobasket 2009 for Lithuania. Those players are Mantas Kalnietis, Tomas Delininkaitis, Mindaugas Lukausks, Arturas Jomantas, Simas Jasaitis, Jonas Maciulis, Linas Kleiza, Ksystof Lavrinovic, Darjus Lavrinovic, Robertas Javtokas and Marijonas Petravicius.
The biggest star on that list is Linas Kleiza who was recently given Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy. Lithuanian forward is have a an amazing debut season in Europe with Olympiacos. This experience should help him be more useful to the national team as well.
Mantas Kalnietis is the only point guard who was directly included in the first team candidates’ list. The shortage of quality point guards has been the biggest problem for Lithuania. If Jasikevicius is not available this year, Kemzura will have a tough task in choosing the playmakers for the national team. In that case Kalnietis should have a guaranteed spot being the only point guard with Euroleague and international experience.
2010 – a comeback of Macijauskas?
Arvydas Macijauskas will have a chance to play for Lithuania for the first time since 2006, though he will have to prove he deserves that. ‘Lithuanian Kalashnikov’ hasn’t played a single game for more than one year which means that his physical shape is far from perfect. The lack of playing experience doesn’t make the things look better either. However, Macas seems to be committed to work hard in order to get himself a call up to the first team. But before that he will have to impress Kestutis Kemzura while playing for the reserve team. Macijauskas is on the list of the candidates for the reserve team which will start training and playing friendly games earlier than the first team. Reserve team will travel to China on July 8 where they’ll play a few games against the local team.
Siauliai trio to show their potential
Arvydas Siksnius, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Deivydas Gailius – they all are Siauliai players and they all are on the candidates list for the reserve team. The trio will be making a debut at the reserve team level after impressing the head coach Kestutis Kemzura who decided to test these players. The athletic Arvydas Siksnius has already signed a deal with Lietuvos Rytas while Mindaugas Kuzminskas is heading to Zalgiris. Deivydas Gailius remains Siauliai player for the moment but it’s likely that he will be snapped up by a richer club too.
There will be even more players on the reserve team who will be trying to show their best in order to be called up for the first team. Kemzura decided to include point guards Arvydas Eitutavicius, Zydrunas Kelys and Aidas Viskontas as potential back ups for the main point guard. It now became a tradition for Lithuania to have a new point guard every summer. So far the experiments weren’t too successful.
Tadas Klimavicius was also included in the list after an impressive season with Zalgiris. He was touted by many basketball experts as a player who deserved his chance in the national team because of his hard work. Though the competition among power forwards is really stiff and it’s not very likely for Klimavicius to make it to the final squad.
The rising star Donatas Motiejunas who is finishing his first year in Italy with Benetton was also included in the list. The young center didn’t have much troubles adjusting to a new level of competition and playing away from home.
Adas Juskevicius and Deividas Dulkys will try to gain experience mainly as it is unlikely for them to make the next step and reach the final squad. Meanwhile Mindaugas Katelynas, Martynas Andriuskevicius and Mihail Anisimov will be looking to do better than last year after none of them made the final cut.
|First team candidates|
|Mantas Kalnietis||Zalgiris (Lithuania)||PG||23||9.8||25|
|Tomas Delininkaitis||PAOK (Greece)||SG||27||17 (2 games)||21.5|
|Martynas Gecevicius||Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuania)||SG||21||13.8||25|
|Martynas Pocius||Zalgiris (Lithuania)||SG||24||11.8||22|
|Arturas Jomantas||Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuania)||SF||24||6.2||21|
|Mindaugas Lukauskis||Asvel (France)||SG||30||10||26|
|Simas Jasaitis||Galatasaray (Turkey)||SF||28||13.96||–|
|Jonas Maciulis||AJ Milano (Italy)||SF||25||6.9||20.8|
|Linas Kleiza||Olympiacos (Greece)||SF-PF||25||13.5||21.7|
|Paulius Jankunas||Khimki (Russia)||PF||25||6.9||–|
|Ksystof Lavrinovic||Montepaschi (Italy)||PF||30||16.2||21.6|
|Darjus Lavrinovic||Real Madrid (Spain)||C||30||10.8||19|
|Robertas Javtokas||Khimki (Russia)||C||30||8.8||–|
|Marijonas Petravicius||AJ Milano (Italy)||C||30||11.2||18.2|
|* stats in the domestic league|
|Reserve team candidates|
|Arvydas Eitutavicius||Cholet (France)||PG||27||7||18|
|Aidas Viskontas||Perlas (Lithuania)||PG||23||9.9||31|
|Zydrunas Kelys||Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuania)*
All games for Perlas
|Adas Juskevicius||Zalgiris (Lithuania)||SG||21||6.5||16|
|Deividas Dulkys||Florida State (USA)||SG||22||8.7||22|
|Arvydas Siksnius||Siauliai (Lithuania)||SF||22||11.4||28|
|Mindaugas Kuzminskas||Siauliai (Lithuania)||SF||20||16.9||26|
|Deivydas Gailius||Siauliai (Lithuania)||SF||22||13.5||22|
|Mindaugas Katelynas||Alicante (Spain)||PF||26||26||11|
|Tadas Klimavicius||Zalgiris (Lithuania)||PF||27||10.1||22|
|Donatas Motiejunas||Benetton (Italy)||PF-C||19||9.4||20.6|
|Martynas Andriuskevicius||Alicante (Spain)||C||24||8.6||19|
|Mihail Anisimov||Budivelnyk (Ukraine)||C||25||14.3||27.3|