25 August, 2023
10 September
17 Jonas Valanciunas (LTU)
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Team profile: Lithuania with "less talent, but more discipline and desire"

MANILA (Philippines) - Lithuania Coach Kazys Maksvytis has a plan prepared for the team at the World Cup. It might not be the easiest road but the ambition is still there.

The Roster

Without their biggest star in Domantas Sabonis, one would assume Lithuania would struggle to fill the void under the rim. One would be wrong, because Jonas Valanciunas is still there, with a twist of experience in Donatas Motiejunas giving Lithuania a lot of options under the rim. There are not that many teams in the World Cup that can count on such twin towers.

Donatas Motiejunas

"We will have less talent, but we can reach our objectives with discipline and desire," Maksvytis said earlier this summer. Make no mistake, "less" talent is relative. They still have Rokas Jokubaitis, Ignas Brazdeikis, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, and a whole load of elite team players on their roster.

"Less" talent just means none of them was world class, a player that led the Sacramento Kings to an unreal season in the NBA. "Less" talent is still more than most countries have on their rosters.

The Question

Is it time for Rokas Jokubaitis to become a worldwide star? We have witnessed his rise since the youth days when he won silver at the 2016 FIBA U16 European Championship, and he was the youngest player at the U19 World Cup a year later, impressing scouts, coaches and agents with his panache and a mighty left hand.

Rokas Jokubaitis

He spent the past two years with Barcelona in Spain, picking up young player awards and taking on more and more responsibility with each passing season.

He is 22 now, entering his prime, and when you see him dishing out 10 assists against France in a friendly, you know he's ready to deliver that Southpaw spike and knock out opponents.

The Hope

Back in 2010, Lithuania were coming off a bad FIBA EuroBasket 2009 campaign, finishing 11th among 16 teams. Hence, nobody put Lithuania among the favorites for the World Cup podium hunt, but with discipline and desire, they managed to stun the world and reach that third step of the podium in Istanbul. Eventual champions USA, led by Kevin Durant, were the only team to beat them, in the Semi-Finals.

It's a somewhat similar scenario now. People may underestimate Lithuania just because of their 15th spot finish at FIBA EuroBasket 2022, but this is what coach Maksvytis and his players are hoping for because they can bounce back and hit you in a variety of ways.

They are the group favorites against Mexico, Montenegro and Egypt. Maybe a good start to the competition propels them to Quarter-Finals or even further.

The Fear

From 2010 to 2016, Lithuania reached the Quarter-Finals of each major event, making their presence felt in the medal chase every summer. However, it seems they lost that habit recently - in 2021 they did not qualify for the Olympics, missing the pinnacle event for the first time since becoming an independent nation.

The fear is that missing the Quarter-Finals at EuroBasket 2017, the 2019 World Cup and EuroBasket 2022, and missing the Olympics in 2021, is an omen of things to come in 2023.


2022 FIBA EuroBasket CZE - GEO - ITA - GER 15th
2021 Olympics    Tokyo (JPN) Did not qualify
2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Beijing (CHN) 9th
2017 FIBA EuroBasket FIN - ISR - ROU - TUR 9th
2016 Olympics   Rio de Janeiro (BRA)  7th
2015 FIBA EuroBasket FRA - CRO - GER - LAT 2nd
2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup    Madrid (ESP) 4th
2013 FIBA EuroBasket Ljubljana (SLO) 2nd
2012 Olympics   London (GBR) 8th
2011 FIBA EuroBasket Kaunas (LTU) 5th

The Poll


For a deeper look on Lithuania's journey to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, click here.