25 August, 2023
10 September
Lithuania 15 men roster announcement
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Qualified Team Focus - Lithuania: Another World Cup podium?

MIES (Switzerland) - The draw for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 will be held in Manila, Philippines, on April 29. It is now time to meet the 32 teams that try to become World Champions in a few months.

After Spain and Australia, France, and Slovenia, next up is the number eight team in the FIBA World Ranking Men, presented by Nike, 2010 World Cup third-placed finishers and three-time FIBA EuroBasket champions Lithuania.

How did they qualify

Lithuania went through big changes before the World Cup qualification starting with Kazys Maksvytis coming on board as head coach for Darius Maskoliunas, under whom Lithuania failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 1992. The long-time leader Jonas Maciulis also retired before the European Qualifiers campaign and Lithuania's new direction.

Maksvytis created a strong core despite many top stars missing with nine players appearing in at least six games, topped by Martynas Echodas' eight games. And Lithuania secured World Cup qualification with one window to spare.

Lithuania reeled off five straight wins to start the qualification - though two were nail-biters. Osvaldas Olisevicius scored 20 points in a 78-77 win at Bosnia and Herzegovina in the third game. And former NBA player Ignas Brazdeikis had an official national team debut to remember at Bulgaria with 13 points and 6 rebounds in a 72-70 victory to give the team a 5-0 mark.

Lithuania suffered their first loss in the campaign in the final First Round game at home to Czech Republic.

Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas helped the team to two wins

Lithuania got their NBA stars Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas back for the August 2022 window and the duo carried the team to two wins, combining to average 30.5 points, 16.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists in the victories in Hungary and over Montenegro.

The FIBA EuroBasket 2022 came directly after that window and Lithuania barely survived the group stage before losing to eventual champions Spain in overtime in the Round of 16. The November 2022 window saw Kestutis Kemzura fill in for Maksvytis as head coach.

In the first game Lithuania seemed in amazement themselves by the debut of France star prospect Victor Wembanyama in a 25-point home loss. But Kemzura got the team to rebound and secure a 65-56 win in Montenegro to lock up their World Cup spot.

Best result at the World Cup

Lithuania will be appearing in their sixth World Cup and fifth in a row. They reached the Quarter-Finals in their first two events in 1998 and 2006 and advanced to the Semi-Finals in both 2010 and 2014, grabbing the third spot on the podium in 2010 for their best-ever result.

Lithuania celebrate winning third place at the 2010 World Cup

Last World Cup appearances

Lithuania bowed out to Russia in their first World Cup appearance in 1998, falling in the Quarter-Finals. Spain ousted the Baltic side in the final eight in 2006. Lithuania were perfect in the group stage in 2010 and then knocked off China and Argentina in the first two rounds of the Knockout Phase. But they could not get past United States in the Semi-Finals. Lithuania did however bounce back and defeated Serbia to take third place.

In 2014, Lithuania lost to only Australia in the group stage and then beat New Zealand in the Round of 16 and Turkey in the Quarter-Finals. That meant another Semi-Finals showdown with United States and the Americans were too good. Unlike 2010, Lithuania could not leave the World Cup with a medal as they lost 95-93 to France in the Third Place Game.

In the 2019 World Cup in China, Lithuania once again lost to Australia in the opening group. A defeat at the hands of France in the second group stage cost Lithuania a spot in the Knockout Phase and Lithuania ended up finishing ninth - their poorest showing in World Cup history.

Players to watch

On July 12th, Lithuania announced a 15 man preliminary roster.

"There was a lot of talk about quite a few players not playing this year. But I think we managed to put together a solid roster that can aim for the highest goals," Lithuania coach Kazys Maksvytis said.

"We will have less talent, but we can reach our objectives with discipline and desire.

"We'll start the training camp with 14 players - (Jonas) Valanciunas will join later, as per NBA rules. We'll also have three to four players join from the reserve squad. (Ignis) Brazdeikis will be late by a week, and we still don't know about (Azuolas) Tubelis - and whether he can join as an NBA player on July 28."