Donskichyte and Co. continuing the momentum
UDINE (FIBA U16 Women’s European Championship) – Lithuania are already looking like the real deal after posting a winning return to the top tier at the FIBA U16 Women’s European Championship.
Udine marks the third time that Dalia Donskichyte has taken to the floor for Lithuania, and after opening up with a big victory against Turkey, the ace guard is hoping her nation’s campaign will continue on a positive track.
That’s because two years ago, one of Lithuania’s brightest prospects made her debut in Division A but ended up mourning a drop down to the second level. While at the time the experience of relegation proved painful, an opportunity would open up to make amends the following summer.
Donskichyte and her team-mates certainly did just that by being crowned FIBA U16 Women’s European Championship Division B 2015 winners – handing the talented teenager a vastly different emotion to the one she had endured the previous edition.
She stated, "I remember my first tournament because it seemed to me that we actually had a really strong team.
"But of course they were all just older than me and while we expected to win, we lost the most important game instead and we were sorry about that.
"It’s true that last year left a huge impression on me. We won promotion because we were so united and strong as a team – like a clenched fist. We were as one; and not only on the court, but off the court too. That's why we won.
"The goal stays the same for me – to play tough for the national team," continued Donskichyte
"This year here at U16 again, next year maybe U18 and my mission is to simply play as hard as I can and always compete until the end. I like the sense and feeling of victory. I like to win and I like to fight.
Donskichyte's love of fighting for Lithuania is shared by her team-mates
"Playing basketball and playing for my country means so much to me. I will always try to achieve the highest goals with Lithuania."
Having been one of the standout stars last summer en-route to punching a ticket back to Division A, Donskichyte is likely to be just as effective this year against even better quality teams. That’s because she has just posted a first full season competing in the LMKL with Kibirkstis.
"Playing in the Lithuanian Women’s Basketball League is a different level," she emphasised.
"I had to play harder and fight more fiercely because most of my opponents are physically stronger than me, so I had to compensate for it.
"I had to think about my every move to beat an opponent and that's why I think I have improved a lot during this past club season."
Donskichyte is the latest in a line of exciting players to emerge of late for Lithuania at youth level and indeed she is playing alongside two of those in the same bracket at Kibirkstis in the shape of Laura Juskaite and Daugile Sarauskaite. It's something which drives her towards greater improvement and while ultimately playing at senior level together is the goal, she accepts there is a long way to go.
"They play really well and I like to play together with them," smiled Donskichyte.
"I'd like us all to play together for the national team of course, but I guess it’s still too early to anticipate."
At her current rate of progress, Donskichyte has every chance of making it happen in the long term. But for now it's back down to business for a huge second day match-up against neighbours Russia and looking to follow up a typically dazzling 18-point opening salvo against Turkey.