Sabonis, Valanciunas ready to lead the charge for Lithuania in EuroBasket Qualifiers
VILNIUS (Lithuania) - National team stalwarts Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas are in Lithuania's preliminary squad for the upcoming FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Qualifiers, the country's basketball federation has announced.
The two NBA stars represented Lithuania at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China but were not in the team that lost at Belgium and the beat the Czech Republic at home in EuroBasket qualifying games played in February.
"I'm excited that both Domantas Sabonis, both Jonas Valanciunas have expressed their interest in joining the national team," Lithuania coach Darius Maskoliunas said. "Everything is now in the hands of Federation officials, who are formalizing things with the Indiana Pacers and the Memphis Grizzlies, respectively. I'm hopeful they will be able to help our team again."
Sabonis and Valanciunas provide one of the best one-two frontcourt punches in international basketball. Their efficiency per game ratings, which takes into consideration all statistical categories, were the highest on the team in China.
Other prominent names in the squad are Mantas Kalnietis, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Jonas Maciulis, Deividas Gailius and Adas Juskevicius.
|Lithuania 25-man squad for FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Qualifiers|
|Laurynas Beliauskas||Eimantas Bendzius||Laurynas Birutis||Marek Blazevic||Arnas Butkevicius|
|Tomas Dimsa||Martynas Echodas||Deividas Gailius||Dovydas Giedraitis||Zygimantas Janavicius|
|Adas Juskevicius||Evaldas Kairys||Mantas Kalnietis||Arnoldas Kulboka||Mindaugas Kuzminskas|
|Jonas Maciulis||Augustas Marciulionis||Gytis Masiulis||Domantas Sabonis||Deivydas Sirvydis|
|Jonas Valanciunas||Paulius Valinskas||Sarunas Vasiliauskas||Arnas Velicka||Eigirdas Zukauskas|
Among the players on the 25-man list that may make their senior team debuts are Augustas Marciulionis, the 18-year-old son of Lithuania legend Sarunas Marciulionis, as well as Deividas Sirvydis, Laurynas Beliauskas, Arnas Velicka and Marek Blazevic. Blazevic did play for the national team in a friendly tournament this past summer.
"That is the list we have right now," Maskoliunas said, "but we fully understand that there might be some changes given the current situation. It's difficult to plan, but the conditions are the same for all national teams. If needed, we have time to make some corrections and add new names to the squad."
Because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision for teams to play Continental Cup Qualifiers in bubbles, instead of home and away games, was confirmed in September.
The Lithuanian capital Vilnius was confirmed as the hub for the Group C tournament for the November window, with the hosts taking on Denmark and Belgium in their two fixtures.