Leading Lithuanian basketball club Zalgiris Kaunas has been handed a double blow coming into the business end of the season with two of their key players effectively ruled out for the remainder of the green and whites’ three play-off campaigns. Just over a fortnight ago the reigning Lithuanian champions suffered their first setback when star signing and former NBA player Sonny Weems severely sprained his ankle, meaning that the swing-man has more than likely played his final game in Lithuania, with plans to return to the NBA next season. Dejuan Collins then elevated his team’s problems by testing positive for a banned substance in a regulation check-up by the sport’s governing body, FIBA. With traces of cannabis found in the athlete’s sample, FIBA handed the point guard a three month ban. It is the latest in a list of problems for the American this season, which include being sent home from Moscow prior to a game for being inebriated. Zalgiris’ opening play-off series, the eighth-quarter-finals in the Russian-based VTB League, came to an abrupt halt on Tuesday night. After losing the opening game of their best-of-three series against Russian club Lokomotiv, 72-44, on Sunday, they then lost the must-win second game played back in Kaunas on Tuesday night, 80-71.
Lithuania’s Simona Krupeckaite has claimed the Baltic States’ only medal at the 2012 UCI World Track Cycling Championships held in Melbourne, Australia over Easter Weekend. The 29-year-old claimed a silver medal in the women’s individual sprint in somewhat controversial circumstances. In the best-of-three race final, Krupeckaite appeared to have evened the ledger after her British opponent, Victoria Pendleton, won the opening sprint. However, race officials overruled the result of the second race, instead handing the win to Pendleton, claiming that the Lithuanian failed to hold her line on the home straight, meaning that the two-time runner-up and two-time bronze medallist was denied an opportunity to claim her first ever gold in the event. Krupeckaite is one of Lithuania’s most decorated athletes, having now won 12 medals at the UCI World Track Cycling Championships.
The Latvian national hockey team’s build-up to the 2012 IIHF World Championships beginning next month got off to a losing start over the weekend as Ted Nolan’s team lost both games of a double-header against the Czech Republic. With both teams taking to the ice without key members, it was the world’s fifth-ranked Czechs making better use of the situation, winning the first game 4-3 following a shoot-out, and the second an evening later, 3-1. In the opening game on Friday, Latvia looked like they were staring down the barrel of defeat in front of a disappointed home crowd, trailing 3-1 with just over three minutes remaining. However, when Kristaps Sotnieks claimed his team’s second goal, the Latvians began to sense a chance, which finally came with 21 seconds to play when Girts Ankipans tied the game up on a six-on-four rush. The Czechs then went on to win in the shoot-out. On Saturday night there was no miraculous repeat of an evening earlier with Martins Cipulis claiming the maroons’ only goal late in the opening frame. Latvia’s build-up to the world championships continued last night when they played Denmark away from home, after TBT had gone to print. The two teams then meet again on Friday evening.