The Lithuanian 3×3 basketball team announced a preliminary list of four players for the Olympic qualifiers in Graz (Austria) that will take place at the end of May.
Team roster: Aurelijus Pukelis, Darius Tarvydas, Paulius Semaška and Modestas Kumpys.
Pukelis is currently the player with the highest FIBA 3×3 rating among Lithuanians, Tarvydas was chosen as the best trio basketball player in the country last year. On 3×3 court, Semaška has been one of the best defenders in Lithuania in recent years, and Kumpys, who joined the candidates after the NKL season, earned a place in the quartet with a good performance in international tournaments and hard work in the national team camp.
However, this roster is announced for FIBA procedures and mathematical reasons. In this way, the widest possible base of candidates is maintained. This line-up does not reflect the order of priority either, because in order to register players who are not in the top ten in Lithuania, it is necessary to do so now. The final line-up will only be announced on May 18, and the basketball players will continue training camp for another month. During this period, it will become clear whether the LKL basketball players will be able to represent the national team.
As of April 14, there are currently no Utena Juventus players in the training camp – Ignas Vaitkus, Žygimantas Skučas, Vytautas Šulskis, Aurimas Urbonas and Gintautas Matulis. They focus on LKL games and prepare for the playoffs of the LKL. Depending on how far will Utena go in the playoffs will determine whether the players of this club will be able to go to Austria.
Now the candidates of the national team have been working for a week in Kaunas. Here they are given all the conditions that allow them to focus only on the preparation for the Olympic qualifiers – the players are provided with supplements and vitamins, after a hard workout various spa procedures are provided. Even before the preparations began, all the candidates for the national team took tests that helped to assess their physical condition.
„The most important thing is that the team feels good, prepares and strives for victories and fierce combats, – said Rolandas Skaisgirys, the founder of the 3×3 basketball association. – At the moment, after physical preparation, we will also evaluate the tactical nuances – will identify how we can help.“
Last week, the biggest emphasis was placed on the physical fitness of the players. Lithuanian Olympic boxer Daugirdas Šemiotas worked with the team candidates. From Monday, the elements of basketball will be integrated into the practises.
„Our main focus is on our players’ physical condition. At the beginning, I thought their physical condition will be a bit more rusty, however, everyone seems to be doing alright so far. Today we are having a shooting practice, but team is still lacking a bit of chemistry. It is understandable since we are mixing the teams around and trying to find the ideal 4 players to build the most effective team. I am very glad to see an amazing work ethic from the guys in the training camp. They know what they came here for. Everybody is putting maximum work here, so coaches cannot complain and sometimes even have to slowdown the players“, – said national team coach Dainius Novickas.
„In this training camp everybody works towards the common goal and we are helping each other to reach our potential. Everybody has more than enough motivation to perform at their best and obviously be selected for the 3×3 national team. No time to relax now, since we can do that once we get old“, – added Aurelijus Pukelis.
Earlier this week, the team’s preparations were somewhat hampered by the departure of four candidates for the final round of the 3×3 United League Europe. Semaška, Pukelis, Kumpys and Ernestas Sederevičius will represent Team LT in the battles to be held in St. Petersburg. Immediately after this tournament, the Lithuanian quartet will return to the national team camp in Kaunas.
Two players of Šakiai „Gulbelė“ on the list of candidates – Paulius Beliavičius and Marijus Užupis – are currently going through a rehabilitation after the injuries. In addition to the above-mentioned basketball players, Šarūnas Vingelis, Šarūnas Beniušis and Žygimantas Šimonis also take part in the training camp in Kaunas. A little later we prepare for the possibility of friendly matches. The teams from Latvia, Poland and the Netherlands are expected to be involved within multiple friendly game concept.