Money might be buying wins for football club Manchester City in the English Premier League, but the same theory is not working for Lithuanian basketball club Zalgiris Kaunas. Despite making significant investments in his basketball team in the offseason, including the purchase of two National Basketball Association (NBA) players until the current lockout ends, Zalgiris owner Vladimir Romanov is still to see any real return on his investment. The team lost two of their first four games in the Russian-based VTB league as well as their opening two Euroleague games, leading to the firing of head coach Ilias Zouros and the hiring of new coach, Serb Aleksandr Trifunovic. However, Trifunovic has failed to make any immediate impact on the team as they lost to defending Euroleague champions Panathinaikos, 92-75, last Friday night before traveling to Riga on Monday for their fifth VTB game of the season, which they also lost, going down 99-79 to VEF Riga. It is the first time that VEF Riga has beaten Zalgiris in 21 years. Given Romanov’s tendency to fire coaches at the drop of a feather, one now wonders how long Trifunovic will be able to keep his job.
This week eight athletes from across Latvia and Lithuania will be spending their time at EuroDisney in Paris, France. However, they will not have too much time to enjoy the rides and photo ops with Mickey Mouse and his pals, with the six Lithuanians and two Latvians instead focusing on claiming medals at the 2011 Weightlifting World Championships. Out of the eight athletes, Lithuania’s Aurimas Didzbalis represents the best hope of bringing home a medal when he competes in the 94kg A final on Saturday afternoon. Earlier this year the 21-year-old finished fourth at the European Championship in Kazan, Russia. He will be hoping for another strong performance on Saturday to confirm his place in the Olympics next summer. Those also hoping to make it to the Olympics, based on their performances in Paris, are Latvia’s Arturs Plesnieks and Lithuania’s Modestas Simkus. The pair will come up against each other in the 105 kg B final, also taking place on Saturday. Despite being in the B group, they can still qualify for the Olympics if they finish in the top 15 in their weight class. Already going to London, but not competing in Paris this weekend, is Latvian Viktors Scerbatihs. The men’s super heavyweight bronze medal winner in Beijing in 2008 is currently recovering from a back injury.
It was a bad Saturday for Baltic rugby teams with Lithuania and Latvia both losing their latest European Nations Cup (ENC) Division 2A games. Playing away to Malta, Lithuania looked to be in control of proceedings, leading the game 10-0 at halftime. However, in the second half they would fail to score again as Malta scored 14 unanswered points to claim the victory. In Croatia, Latvia would not come close to troubling their hosts, already trailing 20-3 at halftime before going on to lose 34-8. For entirely different reasons, the losses may prove detrimental for both sides. With two games remaining for both teams in the 2010/2012 (ENC) cycle, Lithuania now trail group leaders Sweden by five points and will need to win both of their remaining two games, and have the Swedes lose at least one of theirs to have any realistic chance of finishing ahead of the yellow and blues and move into Division 1B for the next two-year cycle. At the other end of the group, Latvia now trails Croatia by four points to be sitting dead last. The maroons will need to record at least one win in their final two games and hope for the Croats to lose both of their games if they are to avoid dropping to Division 2B for the next cycle.