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Basketball without borders in Lithuania
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NBA All-Star and Cleveland Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, New Orleans/OKC Hornets guard Arvydas Macijauskas and Chicago Bulls forward Darius Songaila, all natives of Lithuania, will lead a contingent of NBA players as camp coaches for Basketball without Borders Europe, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) announced today. The program, a basketball instructional camp for young people that also promotes friendship, healthy living and education with an emphasis on HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, features current and former NBA players and team personnel as camp coaches.

?One of the cornerstones of NBA Cares, Basketball without Borders is truly a global program that transcends all boundaries,? said NBA Commissioner David Stern. ?Through the sport of basketball, it unites young people from diverse cultural, national and economic backgrounds on four separate continents. The NBA is proud to join forces with FIBA and its federations to bring together young athletes from around the world for such an impactful program that also serves as an essential forum for important social issues such as HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.?

Since its inception in 2001, Basketball without Borders, the league?s premier global basketball development and community outreach program, has featured more than 120 NBA players, coaches and team personnel from 29 different teams as camp coaches for the more than 700 young athletes from nearly 100 different countries and territories. The NBA family and the campers have traveled more than 85 million miles and logged more than 1 million hours of community service participating in Basketball without Borders. Last year?s Basketball without Borders Europe took place in Treviso, Italy.

This year?s camp will be held at the Sarunas Marciulionis Basketball Academy in Vilnius, June 30 - July 3 with Nike and Spalding as BWB Marketing Partners, and will include an All-Star Game in Kaunas. Lufthansa will be the official airline supplier providing flights for NBA players, staff and legends.

Joining Ilgauskas, Macijauskas and Songaila as camp coaches will be fellow countrymen Indiana Pacers guard Sarunas Jasikevicius, Denver Nuggets forward Linas Kleiza . Other NBA players taking part include Portland Trail Blazers forward Viktor Khryapa (Russia) and Atlanta Hawks forward-center Zaza Pachulia (Georgia) and Philadelphia 76ers center Samuel Dalembert (Haiti), who will be taking part in his sixth camp . In addition, NBA team personnel Herb Brown (Atlanta Hawks), Brian Hill (Orlando Magic), Melvin Hunt (Cleveland Cavaliers), Ryan Krueger (New Jersey Nets) and Russell Turner (Golden State Warriors) also will help coach at the camp. Marin Sedlacek (Serbia and Montenegro), who is a FIBA Expert for Europe, Asia and Africa with more than 25 years of coaching experience, will oversee as camp director for the sixth time.

?It is with immense pride that the Sarunas Marciulionis Basketball Academy plays host to Basketball without Borders Europe,? said former NBA player Sarunas Marciulionis, the Academy?s Founder. ?With the tradition, history and love for the game of basketball instilled in Lithuanian culture we look forward to welcoming the best young talent in Europe for a week of basketball instruction and community programs.?

?The Basketball without Borders program has grown from strength to strength over the years to become the most significant camp of its kind in Europe,? said FIBA?s Development Manager Zoran Radovic. ?It is with much excitement that we take the 2006 event to Lithuania for the first time, where we will once again combine world class basketball instruction with the vital message of healthy living and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention?

The camp will unite more than 50 top young basketball players (ages 19 & under) from over 25 countries across the continent, including France, Hungary, Romania and Turkey, to take part in basketball instruction and competition. The camp?s participants are selected by FIBA and participating basketball federations based on their basketball skills, leadership abilities and dedication to the sport of basketball . One of the goals of Basketball without Borders is to help explore, develop and nurture the top basketball talent on the continent.

Some campers who have participated in the program have gone on to play competitive basketball internationally and at schools in the United States. Cleveland Cavaliers center and Lithuania native Martynas Andriuskevicius was a former participant of Basketball without Borders Europe.

To promote friendship and diversity, the campers will be divided into teams without regard to race and nationality. They will share living quarters with their new teammates and participate in daily motivational life-skills seminars that promote education, leadership, character development, healthy living and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. The HIV/AIDS and healthy lifestyle interactive educational seminars will be led by NBA Cares community partners, such as United Nations Children?s Fund (UNICEF), the world?s leading non-governmental organization dedicated to children.

The camps will be highlighted by extensive community outreach activities focusing on the promotion of a healthy and safe lifestyle, HIV/AIDS awareness, education and grassroots basketball development. Efforts will culminate with an NBA Cares Legacy Project, the NBA?s premier community initiative, which includes the creation of safe places where kids and families can live, learn or play. One of the NBA Cares community partners will be the Kazickas Family Foundation. The NBA and FIBA will also donate products, such as basketballs, rims and sporting goods to local basketball federations and communities. Through Basketball without Borders, five Learn & Play Centers and six new or refurbished basketball courts have been opened outside the United States and Canada. Centers are located at Vila Olimpica de Jornalista Ary de Carvalho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Escuela Benjam?n Zorrilla Distrito Escolar in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Hui Lei School in Beijing, China and at Ithuteng Trust and at SKY Trust in Johannesburg, South Africa.

?NBA players are truly dedicated to giving back not only to their own communities but to communities around the world,? said NBA Legend and Community Ambassador Bob Lanier. ?Basketball without Borders will affect the lives of young people globally and leave an indelible mark everywhere the program is staged for years to come.?

As a part of NBA Cares, the NBA and its teams have created Learn & Play Centers, built homes, refurbished basketball courts and other play spaces. To date, the NBA and its teams have created 138 places where families and children can live, learn or play.

The Sarunas Marciulionis Basketball Academy in Vilnius will host the event for the first time. Built in 1992 as The Sarunas Marciulionis Basketball School, its primary purpose was to train future athletes in fundamental basketball techniques and enhance their educational skills. In 2002 the SMB School celebrated its tenth anniversary. On this occasion, FIBA awarded Sarunas Marciulionis Basketball School the status of Basketball Academy for its continued contribution in developing youth basketball in Lithuania. There are currently 31 groups and 770 boys between the ages of seven and 18 attending the Academy, with ten coaches and two teachers.

Sarunas Marciulionis enjoyed an eight year NBA career and was one of the first global ambassadors of the game, becoming the first ever Lithuanian player to play in the NBA. Playing five seasons with the Golden State Warriors from 1989-1994, he then moved to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1994-1995 before joining the Sacramento Kings in 1995-1996. He spent his last season in the NBA with the Denver Nuggets in 1996-1997. He was a member of the Soviet Union gold-medal team at the 1988 Olympics. He won two bronze medals at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics with the Lithuanian national team. He won a silver medal at the 1995 European Championships, where he was also chosen MVP.
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