At last… The LKL season has finally begun and finally, there is a glimmer of hope, that the 09/10 edition of domestic Lithuanian basketball will have some intrigue and tension involved. That is, of course, excluding the fact that the top 3 spots have all been pretty much decided during the offseason will most certainly be occupied by the trio that has been there for ages – Rytas, Žalgiris and Šiauliai… But it has been this way for most of the time, that I can recall – in fact in the past 10 years, only Alita managed to get onto the podium, bumping Šiauliai out for two straight seasons (01/02 and 02/03). So how is this season different? The answer is in the numbers – there’s a whole bunch of teams ready to bite into each other throats and make a good spectacle out of it. Basically, if you ask me, there’s going to be a heck of a battle looking from the 4 position downward.
The overall level , the quality of the players and coaches, the budgets have all decreased, if we were to compare them with the ones from last year, but if you ask me, this might just turn out to be for better than for worse in the long term. The bigger competition and the chances that young players are being given will compensate the lack of money and everything that comes with it.
I have to tell you that I’m from Vilnius and the games that I will be able to see will mostly be the ones played here. Yesterday I spent the evening at the Perlas – Sakalai game, an LKL debut for the young guys and a derby as well, which they managed to win. I just wanted to point out some nice performances by the players that made the game interesting to watch. While most people would point out Jonas Valančiūnas in the Perlas roster, there is another guy, who has been as impressive lately – Žydrūnas Kelyas, with 20 points and 10 assists, was the main motor of the game. He’s probably as quick, if not quicker than anyone in the league and his speed and excelent ball handling are also very good. Having a decent shot from further back from the basket, Kelys’ only flaw is the amount of turnovers he makes – he had 6 on the night and I’m sure there’s a lot to improve in this departament. Valančiūnas (11 points + 10 rebounds) was also good, though you’d think he would be the pole of their attack and more of the game would be “made for him” rather than just scoring points after missed shots from his teammates. Perlas have a really big roster, tall players all around and that was one of the main keys to the victory, as the team grabbed 60 (!) rebounds. Decent performances by Eimantas Bendžius and Giedrius Staniulis as well. While looking on the other end, Sakalai – Ovidijus Varanauskas’ (13 pts. + 4 rebs.), Gintaras Leonavičius, who being a defender at 194 was the leader in blocks last season and Paulius Joneliūnas. Here’s a video from the game, enjoy: