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From the Euroleague to the LKL finals: what happened to Žalgiris? News


Four years ago, Kaunas “Žalgiris” played in the small Euroleague final and took third place.

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Three years ago, Žalgiris played in the Euroleague qualifiers.

Two years ago, they would probably have played in the playoffs again if not for the Euroleague’s decision to end the season on COVID-19.

Last year, Žalgiris had an equal balance of victories and defeats in the Euroleague.

This year is the last place in the Euroleague and the inability to reach the same LKL final. For the first time in club history.

How did a team that seemed so successful last year suddenly become so crippled? Almost just after winning the quarterfinals of the LKL 3-2 final, Kaunas lost 1-3 in the semi-finals. How?

“Žalgiris” has such a financial advantage in its backyard over all other teams that such results would be unimaginable. The Kaunas club’s budget is higher than the remaining 10 LKLs together and if the money card is still drawn in the Euroleague, why shouldn’t it be drawn in LKL as well?

What Žalgiris looked like in the LKL playoffs and what the results were simply not normal. But this is the logical culmination of the last two years.

The lives of Žalgiris and Šarūnas Jasikevičius were complicated but at the same time simple. Shar, the basketball coach who watched the broadcast and recorded the game 8 hours a day, already knew in the middle of the season which player he wanted for next year. The financial problem remained unresolved.

Of course, at the beginning of each summer, Jasikevičius was playing a cat-and-mouse game, when Žalgiris’s head, Paulius Motiejūnas, needed to grind his teeth and wait to see if Shara had already raised his wings or if he would be in it. homeland for another year.

Match player

EFF

20

Gediminas Orelikas

Points

19

Accuracy

4-10

Bounce

4

Efficient transfer

3

It was not easy with the coach during the season, when the bad mood section kept all the members of the organization on their toes.

But there were victories (and not any, but they are loud), and the basketball players choose the club more often than not by mistake, there were only positive emotions in the society around the team and the Žalgiris arena, so life was simple.

Not so simple a life came when Shara finally raised her wings in Barcelona in the summer of 2020.

After Motiejūnas initially announced that a Lithuanian coach should be sought, this plan soon had to be adjusted. Darius Maskoliūnas refused to handle Žalgiris. Then Kazys Maksvytis had a contract with the Parma Perm and the two sides exchanged interest, but did not make much effort to resolve the situation with the Russian contract.

Plan C was a foreign coach, and after talking to several candidates, the managers of Žalgiris were impressed by Martin Schiller, who had never worked as a head coach in Europe.

Yes, he was elected G League coach of the year, yes, he spoke in an orderly and fair manner, but the strangest thing is that no one has had the question of never being in Europe – not even in the Euroleague but in Europe in general. – he was a man. someone who has not worked as a coach is not suitable for this position.

The management of “Žalgiris” basically decided that it is not the coach but the players who should be the brightest actors in the basketball performance, that’s why Joffrey Lauvergne came to buy the strongest and most expensive this summer.

This shows the changing approach to assembly. If the players were looking for rising, hungry and close Euroleague players who had to shoot at Kaunas, then when Shar left, they bought an experienced and famous player, as if he had to make a living easier for the new coach.

However, warming up in Europe was made easier for Schiller by the fact that all lines of defense were maintained – Thomas Walkup, Marius Grigonis, Lukas Lekavičius and Rokas Jokubaitis stayed to defend the color “Žalgiris” after fighting with Shar. Žalgiris, led by them, played so well that he blunted even the inexperienced coach’s inexperience and did not want to follow the rules of the European game.

“Žalgiris” played so well in the first half of the season that when the summer of 2021 arrived, Schiller was not only allowed to strengthen his coaching staff with another inexperienced German, but also said goodbye to Evaldas Beržininkaiitis. which probably questioned the Australian coach. the most decision.

Not only that, Schiller was also in charge of assembling the team for the new season.

This is where you should stop. Paul Motiejūnas will later say out loud that the biggest mistake made Schiller trust. This is how he will admit his mistake, but he will also take responsibility for the coach.

Motiejūnas allowed Schiller to invite Tyler Cavanaugh and Niels Giffey, and he even wanted to see Mantas Kalnietis and Edgar Ulanov. Josh Nebo came to Kaunas due to Schiller’s negotiation skills.

However, the biggest mistake was to build the most important thing in basketball – the line of defense.

Grigonis got a life contract last summer, and Walkup and Jokubaitis did not even accept Žalgiris’ generous offer and decided to continue his career in Piraeus and Barcelona, ​​leaving Žalgiris without a base.

Schiller and Motiejūnas decided to wait until the end of the summer to invite Emmanuel Mudiay, who had never played in Europe, to take the place of the main player. Janis Strelnieks can be seen in the starting lineup.

It kind of had to be logical. Strelnieks defend less, but have more experience, play harder against two, hit from a distance. Mudiay is physically strong, so she could defend better, push better, and that would compensate for her limp hit or ability to create a game.

On paper, it had to look good. But what is written on paper is appreciated by fans and journalists. Coaches and club leaders had to see the vision of how this works in practice.

Now, we can point to the fact that Strelnieks could not play even in the quarterfinals or semi-finals of LKL. That he became the most expensive player of “garbage” minutes of all time “Žalgiris”. That the eyes of all the opponents shone when they saw a Latvian veteran in front of them. But all this is not the problem of Janis Strelniekas. This is a problem for those who have seen it in Žalgiris.

When not even in 2021. Schiller was released for the autumn leaves, and Mudiay was soon bitten by him, and club leaders also seemed to understand what he was doing. That they have enough information inside to make such a decision.

After all, when he agreed with Kazys Maksvytis at the end of the season, and soon he was asked to join the team now, it seemed again that Motiejūnas saw and knew more than everyone else.

“It simply came to our notice then. We believe we can achieve the goals set,” said Motiejūnas after he fired Schiller and appointed Zdovc.

“There are aspirations and goals for the season, and it seemed more difficult to achieve those goals with the former coach,” he has already said after Zdovc’s dismissal and Maksvytis’s appointment.

Last place in the Euroleague, King Mindaugas Cup won and did not reach the LKL final. Something is whispering to me that Martin Schiller could have done that (not).

Paulius Motiejūnas shouldn’t be piling on all the bad stuff at Žalgiris this year, but obviously he has serious issues with the selection of staff. And not just when choosing players.

Since 2013, when Motejūnas returned to Žalgiris, no long-term sports partner has appeared around him.

There was Ginas Rutkauskas, but after one season he said goodbye. Robert Javtok was then, but after receiving the position of sports director in advance, he did not prove his worth to them. Then there was Francois Lamy, who did not leave before the end of the season. Algimantas Bružas was there, but instead of Žalgiris, he decided to return to journalism.

The fact that the organization “Žalgiris” not only did not grow any talent in the administration itself, but also stood out with all those who tried to work in sports matters, talking about some problems.

Marketing, ticketing, business development specialists and specialists grew up in the Žalgiris office and moved to higher positions in other companies, but there is no mature sports director on the island of Nemunas.

Perhaps this is due to the fact that these positions were held by people with officially different sounding headlines. For a long time, he was the shadow sports director. coach Jasikevičius. Before and after him, Motiejūnas, the director and owner of the club, is also the shadow sports director.

2021-2022 season showed that shade homework is not a winning combination. This is not the year 2014 anymore, when you could still win LKL with three coaches during the season.

If this was not yet clear, then the defeat in the semifinals of Panevėžys “Lietkabelius” officially made it worse this season, at least during the period of Independence.

When it falls within four years from the Euroleague final to the LKL final, the conclusions need to be drawn.

Summer is waiting for Žalgiris, when it will no longer be possible to make such irresponsible mistakes.

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