Rytas leaves VTB League, Neptunas likely to follow

LKL teams sent a clear message to VTB League that national championship is their priority. Just days after it was announced that there will be five Lithuanian teams next season in VTB Legaue, Rytas and most likely Neptunas are leaving the league.

Today LKL board meeting was convened. The hottest topic was league format for the next season. A three-round format was proposed by LKL but the clubs voted for a four-round format instead.

LKL will return to a usual competition format that will see each team face each other four times in regular season. That means that there will be 40 regular season games for every team.

For Neptunas and Rytas it means that they will have to play at leas 70 regular season games if they play in LKL, Euoleague/Eurocup and VTB League, not counting any possible play-off games.

Lietuvos Rytas reacted quickly announcing that they will not participate in VTB League. Neptunas is expected to follow.

“Taking into account geopolitical situation as well as sports principles of this tournament, we decided not play in VTB United League this season”, Lietuvos Rytas representative Remigijus Kazilionis told lrytas.lt.

“This competition turns more into open Russian championship because only teams from Russia qualify for European tournaments through this league.”

As TalkBasket reported, Rytas was warned by Vilnius city municipality that they will be stripped of any financial support if they play in VTB League given current geopolitical situation.

The participation of VTB League newcomers Dzukija, Nevezis and Lietkabelis is also in doubt. Even though these teams are not playing in Europe next season, they are still weighing their options.

Meanwhile VTB Legaue announced via its official website that there will be no teams from Lithuania in the league next season.

In addition to the new format, LKL board has also confirmed that NKL (second division in Lithuania) winners Mazeikiai will enter LKL the coming season. The club won NKL last season as well but was denied entry to LKL due to failure to meet minimal are capacity requirements.

LKL has also decided to put best effort in order to win back second spot in Euroleague for Lithuania. Starting from 2015-2016 season there will be only one Lithuanian team – A License holders Zalgiris – in Euroleague, unless another team wins Eurocup, after Euroleague took away B License which until now was given to LKL champions.