Lithuanian basketball club Lietuvos Rytas has learned that there is no such thing as a third time lucky, failing in their bid to win their first Final Four tournament of the season on their third attempt. Having finished third in the Eurocup Final Four, and runners-up in the Baltic Basketball League Final Four, the red-and-blacks were aiming for redemption when they hosted the Russian-based VTB League Final Four in Vilnius last Wednesday and Thursday. However, coming up against pre-tournament favorites CSKA Moscow in the semi-finals, Aleksandr Dzikic’s team was unable to cause the upset that the partisan crowd had been cheering for, allowing CSKA to score the final four points to win, 79-72. Alexandar Rasic led scoring for the home team with 16 points. There was, however, better news for Lietuvos Rytas fans when they took to the court a day later to defeat Lokomotiv-Kuban, 91-83, and claim the VTB bronze medals. With 15 points, Jonas Valanciunas led the way for Lietuvos Rytas in the bronze medal game. In the gold medal match-up, CSKA Moscow held on to defeat Russian rivals Unics Kazan 74-62. The Vilnius-based club’s last hope of claiming a title this season now comes down to winning the Lithuanian domestic championship. However, they are already on the back foot with arch rivals Zalgiris drawing first blood in the best-of-five series with a dominant 71-56 victory in game one on Sunday night.
The Latvian men’s rugby team have failed to help out their southern Baltic neighbors, Lithuania, after being on the receiving end of a 31-3 thumping at the hands of Sweden at the weekend. Going into the final round of European Nations Cup Division 2A action, Lithuania still remained a chance of next season playing in Division 1B should they win their final test of the season against Croatia, and Latvia also defeat group leaders Sweden, or at the worst, deny the yellow-and-blues from scoring more than four tries. Lithuania did everything within their power, holding on for a tense, closer-than-expected, 28-26 win over the lowly Croats. However, the Latvians were unable to oblige and upheld their part of the challenge by not only losing, but also allowing Sweden a bonus point in the process by scoring more than four tries. Lithuania will now remain in Division 2B for the next two-year cycle, whilst Latvia, on account of only winning one of their eight group games, now drop down to Division 2B where they will face the likes of Andorra, Slovenia and Israel – countries hardly known for their rugby playing prowess.
Having surprised many by declaring himself available for the 2012 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft, according to lithuanianbasketball.com, Lithuania’s Mindaugas Kupsas is about to receive work-outs with the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers. This year the 21-year-old center had his debut season playing in the Baltic Basketball League (BBL) and Lithuanian domestic league (LKL) for Zalgiris Kaunas farm club, Baltai. Whilst solid, the former Lithuania junior team’s stats were hardly eye catching, averaging 7.6 points and five rebounds a night in the BBL and 8.0 points and 3.9 rebounds a game in the LKL. The Warriors have made no secret of their plans to find new centers to replace the unproductive Latvian Andis Biedrins, whilst if Kupsas was to be picked up by the Clippers, he would be joining a squad with the potential to win a championship ring in the not-too-distant future. Kupsas is the only Baltic player to declare himself available for the draft this season.