List of candidates unveiled for 3×3 Lithuanian national team

2021-02-21 17:02
Photo: FIBA 3x3

On Sunday, the Lithuanian 3×3 basketball team starts its journey to the Tokyo Olympic Games. Thirteen of the best representatives of this sport gather for a six-day camp in Anykščiai.

Although the final aim is Tokyo, Lithuanian 3×3 team is yet to qualify for the Olympic. Qualifiers tournament will take place on May 26-30 in Graz, Austria.

Despite the fact that one of the best 3×3 basketball player in Lithuania – M. Užupis – is yet to recover from a serious knee injury, he is getting better faster than expected and can already shoot, so it was decided to include him into the list of candidates.

Head coach of the national 3×3 team is Dainius Novickas. Coaching staff also includes the head coach of Utena “Juventus” Žydrūnas Urbonas and several other representatives of Utena team.

“Together we will try to evolve our 3×3 basketball knowledge. Conditions are perfect here, we have never had a 3×3 basketball camp like this.

Everyone knows each other, so the energy is great here. Both, basketball arenas and gyms work 24/7 here – it will be a productive work, we will test them”, – D. Novickas said about the conditions created in Anykščiai.

Mindaugas Špokas, Secretary General of the Lithuanian Basketball Federation (LKF), also shared his thoughts about the start process of the 3×3 basketball Olympic team formation.

“The plan is simple – to prepare for the Olympics. It is not easy to work out on a suitable schedule but our desire is to have a quality product. All players have completed their health checks and based on that data we will be able to supply them with necessary supplements. We do the same in the national men’s team, because nobody is fully healthy. Our main aim is to improve everyones physical condition.

All players have been also insured by their club, which has not been done before. All that focus – medicine, care, coaching plans – is at the level of the national men’s team. We are all in the same boat, so we want to have both teams in the Olympics at the end of the day. After Monday’s game against Denmark, the 3×3 team will be our top priority until June”, – said M. Špokas.

The LKF Secretary General has also stated that organising training camps like this during the season are extremely difficult, especially considering the current pandemic situation. All in all, every basketball organisation in the country is combining its strengths to help the 3×3 national team to achieve the highest results.

“We are adapting to the current situation because there is a desire to find a compromise. We will have an Olympic qualifiers at the end of May and at the moment we are talking to our leagues, but we are not sure how all this will look in May. National interest is above clubs, so we need to talk so the best players can represent the national teams. For the first time in the history of the Olympic movement, there will be a 3×3 basketball competition, and we have a chance to qualify. We will try to catch up because nobody wants to miss out on this opportunity”, – M. Špokas spoke about the emerging challenges.

During the training camp, players of the national team will train twice a day. Some practises will even have top-level referees. While some of the players are already used to play together, there will be attempts to try out a wide variety of team combinations and find the most suitable candidates.

“We will create different teams. We will look at players actions in the stressful situations, how people coexist and what the  chemistry between them is like. It’s not “five on five” basketball because there you can choose between twelve people with whom you interact and with whom you do not. Here, the team consists of four people, all of them are family members, so psychology is also very important”, – said D. Novickas about the energy of the training camp.

National Team Candidates: 

Ignas Vaitkus, Žygimantas Skučas, Vytautas Šulskis, Gintautas Matulis, Darius Tarvydas, Aurimas Urbonas, Aurelijus Pukelis, Šarūnas Vingelis, Paulius Beliavičius, Marijus Užupis, Šarūnas Beniušis, Žygimantas Šimonis ir Paulius Semaška.