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National Men’s Basketball Squad Called to Arms 24 May 2012

In a press conference on Tuesday 22 May, Kestutis Kemzura announced his 19-man shortlist for the Lithuanian national team. The names include Sarunas Jasikevicius, who decided to have one last crack at the National Team and notching up another Olympic Games.

Kestutis Kemzura

It would be the third Olympics in a row for Jasikevicius, if Lithuania get past the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Venezuela. 

The best news is the return of Kleiza, recovered from his knee injury and despite fluctuating form in the NBA looks ready for the work ahead.

Sad news is that Donatas Motiejunas will most probably not be able to help the team due to his contractual status with the Houston Rockets. He only signs a contract on 1 July and risking an injury before then would have a negative long-term impact on his career.

Kemzura asked him to be ready for action on 2 July, but with Olympic Qualifiers in Venezuela starting on the same day, having missed all the preparation he will only be a possible replacement in the Olympic squad in the event of injury.

The news is especially sad as it was hoped that the National Team would start looking to the future following the let-down of Eurobasket, and Motiejunas has shown very good improvement during his season with Prokom Gdynia.

Jasikevicius made the team again wait until he made his final decision on whether or not he will play, and coach and management seem to be OK with that. Our problem is that we are short of point guards, but we are not short of argumentative personalities and adding the already volatile Jasikevicius into the mix is essentially a negative for the team. What Jasikevicius brings to the team in playmaking he takes away in creating negative team energy.

His numbers were as good as anyone else during Eurobasket, but what is noticeable is that with Saras in the team, when you are down more than ten points he starts dummy-spitting and takes out his anger at the referees, the coaching staff and even teammates.

With Saras in the team they are however better front-runners.

His future may rest on the form of Deividas Dulkys, if the young shooting guard shows good form at camp it may make the switch to a youth policy that much easier.

I say youth, but we can only forego Jasikevicius if Kaukenas, only a year younger, takes the back-up point duties behind Mantas Kalnietis.

For the first time in ages the training camp will be without Mindaugas Lukauskis and the Lavrinovic brothers. I hope the Lithuanian Basketball Federation made some gesture of appreciation to all of them for their years of faithful service and for helping to raise the reputation of Lithuanian basketball around the word.

Training camp starts next week, and it will be straight to work with only a month for preparation for the all-important Olympic Qualifiers starting in Venezuela on 2 July.

After training camp in Lithuania, there will be two practice matches. The first against Macedonia on 16 June in Klaipeda and then against Greece on 17 June in Kaunas.

The team then heads to Houston for acclimatisation and two further practice matches against Great Britain and one against Russia.

The full list of National Team candidates is:

Sarunas Jasikevicius, Mantas Kalnietis, Adas Juskevicius, Tomas Delininkaitis, Rimantas Kaukenas, Martynas Pocius, Renaldas Seibutis, Deividas Dulkys, Simas Jasaitis, Jonas Maciulis, Linas Kleiza, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Paulius Jankunas, Darius Songaila, Tadas Klimavicius, Donatas Motiejunas, Jonas Valanciunas, Antanas Kavaliauskas, Robertas Javtokas.

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