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Douai 2009: Lithuania Review

June 17th, 2009 · No Comments

Today, I will talk about the second European team to have played in this year’s edition of the Douai World Tournament: Lithuania. A team that was composed of 1990 and 1992 born players missing all their talented 91 guard players. This came up to a situation having a team dominated by inside players and totally missing the talented guard play as the 92 born players are still a bit green when it comes to play against 2 years older guys.

The main talent on the Lithuanian team is of course Donatas Motiejunas. The combination of talent, size, coordination and skills is rare in European basketball and the 2m15 tall player was clearly the reason why the NBA scouts have made the trip to Northern France. But I don’t think that they go home with any additional information on the Lithuanian. He still has potential written all over him but the doubts on his mental approach to the game have been intensified. Being in the middle of a brawl of the Lithuanian – Puerto Rico game and showing frustration throughout full games on the court is probably not the best way to improve the opinion people have on you. Whatever…

Motiejunas showed in Douai that he is more and more becoming a player that really plays inside. His three point attempts are going down and he tries to play in the low post. You can see him going for several different moves, fade away jump shots or left handed jump hooks. His hook shots look a bit strange though as he is shooting them in a bit of a throwing forward move instead of releasing the ball on its highest point. This may be a reason why his shots are always contested one despite being the tallest guy on the court.

Motiejunas needs to work on his mental approach to the game

Another position where you could see Motiejunas a lot is on the high post. He can create from that spot as he is capable of beating his opponents easily of the dribble, and this coming with either left or right hand. He finishes his drives a lot on some kind of floater and does not go that hard to the rim. He has however also the possibility to nail the jump shot from mid range or go for lightning quick passes to the back door cutters.

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It is important to see how he develops in terms of mental approach to basketball. You could see him arguing with the referees throughout the games and getting frustrated pretty easily when he does not get the calls he wants. This approach relates to his defensive game where his opponents had often open shooting possibilities as Motiejunas did not even raise the hand to defend their open looks.

Stats: 13.8ppg (41.5% FG 84.6% FT) 3.6rpg 2.8topg

A player that was quite a nice surprise for the Lithuanian team was the SF Gediminas Orelikas. By far the largest player of the squad, the forward from Pakruojis showed a very nice shooting exhibition throughout the tournament and had also quite a big impact when it came to defensive rebounding. Reports from Lithuania describe him as a bit of a lazy guy which could of course explain his devastating physical shape. He will probably never become a great athlete but he seemed to understand the game pretty well.

Orelikas reached the Final of the three point contest on Saturday

The main offensive weapon of Orelikas is his three point shot. He likes to go for some quick release from behind the arc, especially coming of a simple post screen to open him up. Not running that fast through the different screens, Orelikas knows how to get open using his body and he does not need that much of space to shoot. As he does not take the ball down before his release, he can also shoot when he has defenders running after him without the risk of getting stolen the ball. On the other hand, his deficit in athleticism prevent him from creating much of his own drive. You won’t see him going for a one dribble jump shot or playing the drive until the rim.

Orelikas did help his team a lot in defense though where he was really present in the rebound where he could use his strength to protect the ball and help his Center players in that area. Sometimes, Orelikas looks however not really concerned or too nonchalant which confirms what we heard on him from Lithuania. He came of an interesting season in NKL where he averaged 15.6ppg and 5.5rpg so that it would not be a surprise to see him next year with a bigger team in Lithuania.

Stats: 16.2ppg (55.1% FG 43.8% 3FG 13/13 FT) 4.6rpg

A player that should have been a major factor against this competition was Tautvydas Slezas. However, the Lietuvos Rytas Center could never really take over the game and saw relatively limited playing time during the tournament. He showed sparks of his talent though as he scored in different fashion, going for a powerful dunk from a high post drive or netting some kind of running hook shot. However, his limited speed handicapped him in defense and he had always some foul trouble.

A player that showed some interesting things on Sunday’s game was Tadas Padegimas. The 2m01 tall forward scored 9 points in the final quarter on good reads of the defense. He moves pretty well on the court but seems to be more of an up and down player in terms of performances when you check his stats throughout the tournament. He displays an interesting frame but looks however still pretty weak physically.

The youngest player of the Lithuanian team Dovydas Redikas had a fantastic game against the United States where he scored 31 points. He looks very elegant in what he does on the court and lots of his points come of fast breaks where he was always one of the first players to have crossed the court. He started most of the games for his team despite being born only in December 1992 and being virtually 2 and a half year younger than the rest of the team.

Redikas scored 11 out 14 against Team USA

Vytenis Cizauskas got also lots of minutes as a back-up point guard where he did a good job in setting up the team and creating open positions for his team mates through drive and dish plays most of the time. He is still pretty limited when it comes to his physical attributes but he may have a good future as a European style PG in the next years. It would not surprise me if he takes over the starting job with the U19 team this summer on the PG spot.

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