Jonas Kazlauskas, the head coach of Lithuanian national team, expressed his anger at the Toronto Raptors for not letting Jonas Valanciunas to join his squad earlier.
Valanciunas has just finished playing in the Summer league in Las Vegas and was supposed to return home to join the training camp of the national team. However, the Raptors decided to use their right to keep the player in Toronto.
According to the agreement between FIBA and NBA, NBA players have to join their national teams no longer than five weeks ahead of the tournament. The Raptors took advantage of the rule. As a result Valanciunas will return to Lithuania next week only.
The Raptors drafted Valanciunas in 2011 as the 5th overall pick. He moved to the NBA last season and was a regular starter. Valanciunas is expected to be getting even more playing time next season.
“I am very unhappy with this situation. I thought that he [Valanciunas] will arrive sooner and will at least watch what we are doing. Now we will have to repeat many things that we did.”, Kazlauskas said.
“There are NBA clubs who cooperate with Europe and, by pursuing mutual benefits and by trusting each other, allow their players to work with the national team. And then there are arrogant teams that buy tickets for their players on the last day. After all, Jonas still needs to adapt after he arrives.
“If they prohibit him to train and think that every touch from us will damage the guy, then they should come and watch our training sessions”.
It will be the 3rd straight summer with the senior national team for Valanciunas as he has suited for Lithuania in 2011 EuroBasket and 2012 London Olympics. This time he is likely to play a much more important role than in previous years.
Lithuania started its training camp on July 15th and is set to play its first friendly game on August 5th against Belgium in the newly build arena in Kedainiai.