Zalgiris wins title with naked talent

  • 2004-05-20
  • By TBT Staff
VILNIUS - As predicted, Zalgiris clenched the Lithuanian Basketball League title for the fourth consecutive year on May 15, defeating Lietuvos rytas 88-70 in Vilnius in the final match of the league's championship tournament.

While Zalgiris' coaching staff and players celebrated the victory-the team's ninth title in the history of the LKL-after sweeping Lietuvos rytas in the best-of-seven series, onlookers called the decisive win a confidence-booster after the team's crushing defeat to Maccabi last month in the Euroleague tournament.
The victory was especially sweet for Zalgiris center Arvydas Sabonis, who played his first season with the team after quitting the NBA to return to his native Kaunas.
Sabonis, regarded by some as Lithuania's greatest basketball player of all time, was greeted to cheers of "Sabonis is God" by jubilant Zalgiris fans.
In spite of the lopsided final result, the first half of the match proved a nail-biter, as Zalgiris managed to gain only a two-point lead by the halftime buzzer. But in a fast-paced rush in the first five minutes following the break, the favorites from Kaunas scored 20 points to Lietuvos rytas' four, all but sealing the fate of the underdogs.
Aside from slamdunks and breakaways, fans and players alike were treated to a special surprise during a pause in the second half when a woman posing as a dancer ran onto the court and stripped off her clothes. Wearing nothing but a pleated gold lamee miniskirt, the woman skipped over to the Lietuvos rytas bench, and after greeting the team's players, placed her breasts on coach Kestutis Kemzura's playboard. The streaker then advanced toward the Zalgiris bench, where the team masseur politely escorted her off the court.
As the final buzzer rang, Zalgiris players were doused in champagne, while coach Antanas Sireika was tossed into the air by team members. In the locker room following the match, players and coach alike indulged in the hallowed team tradition of smoking victory cigars.
Following the celebrations, Zalgiris' management confirmed its intention of keeping as many players as possible for next year's roster, including American Tamoka Beard. Coaches also plan to call up two teenagers, 18-year-old Martynas Andriuskevicius and 19-year-old Jonas Maciulis, from Sabonis' training school to play with the team next year.