New Olympic cycle (heading to Rio de Janeiro)
So Olympics is over. Time to speak about the future. One of Lithuanian experts already wrote pretty poor, but at some points intereting article about new Olympic cycle of Lithuanian basketball: http://www.krepsinis.net/lietuva/v-c...-ateiti/207307
"Adas Juškevičius, Martynas Pocius, Edgaras Ulanovas, Linas Kleiza, Jonas Valančiūnas. It's likely to see this starting lineup...in Olympics of Rio de Janeiro" (Čeponis).
That's probably most interesting sentence of all article. Also Čeponis mentions Vytenis Čižauskas, Domantas Sabonis, Martynas Gecevičius, Dovydas Redikas, Deivydas Dulkys. Almost at the last line he remembers Motiejunas as well.
Point guards. I agree with Čeponis that Juškevičius immidiately goes to potential Lithuania's future point guards after this summer's NT camp. Actually we have to say thanks to Kemzura (one of the biggest jobs he made this summer) that he showed us this kid can play perfect pick and roll and to play smart basketball in hight level after Juškevičius' mediocre season. Juškevičius has good skills that are a little bit raw yet. He has to decide if he goes PG or SG in his career. It would be great if he would play as a PG in Žalgiris upcoming seasons, but I just can't see it. At the moment I would say Juškevičius has to be the best chances to be the backup of Kalnietis in Eurobasket 2013. We should keep an eye on Čižauskas upcoming years. And also I think Čeponis entirely missed current U-18 NT. Maybe he doesn't see any 22yo players of that team playing in Olympics 2016, but he mentions 16yo Sabonis. Call me stranger, but I would keep an eye on Marius Grigonis as possible Pointforward for Lithuanian NT. The guy can get inside and to play pick and roll, he make a long pass in perimeter, he can split defence and can nail from downtown. He feels comfortable playing the point (having the ball in his hands) that is obvious and that's rare for Lithuanian players.
Shooting guards. Čeponis has high hopes on Pocius, Seibutis and Gecevičius. Is Pocius most talented SG for upcoming Olympic cycle? I wouldn't be surprised. He has everything except consistency. However, Čeponis also missing here two interesting talents here - Tamulis and Dimša, just for a record. This position looks deep however you look. Unfortunately no sensations here I'm afraid.
Small forwards. I agree that Edgaras Ulanovas is one of the most talented future players at 3. He resembles Šiškauskas at some point, has a nice touch from downtown and even can pass. His strenght seems to be his basketball IQ. Something what could be Mindaugs Kuzminskas' problem (he still has to be mentioned, IMO). Čeponis expects that Mačiulis and Kleiza will still be in Olympics 2012 (couldn't agree more, unless some more talented players than Mačiulis would step in). I would mention Marius Grigonis here as well. Tauras Jogėla is interesting talent.
Power forward. Kleiza will still be our starting 4 in next Olympics? Could be, but I'm not so sure. In my account it depends on Motiejunas position. However Kleiza, Motiejunas, Jankuns lineup wouldn't be a surprise. Any players worth mentioning? Barely. I would still expect something from Biruta. I saw some pure, raw power under the boards in him.
Centers obviously Čepinis isn't the biggest fan of Valančiūnas in Lithuania and he's very much concerned with this position. I'm not. Maybe D. Sabonis won't be exactly ready for this, but he might go as a back up. Also I think Mindaugas Kupšas will end up being a solid force as a center. And you'll be suprised, but I'm saying Motiejunas will be very much available playing at 5. Might even become his natural position after 3- 5 years.
So what roster would I see now for Rio Olympics?
PG: Kalnietis, Adas Juškevičius/Čižauskas (Dambrauskas)
SG: Pocius, Gecevičius, Grigonis (Seibutis, Dulkys, Redikas, Tamulis, Dimša)
SF: Kleiza/Ulanovas, Mačiulis (Kuzminskas, Jogėla)
PF: Motiejunas, Jankunas. (Biruta).
C: Valančiūnas, D. Sabonis/Kupšas
* Some players come from nowhere usually. That should happen this time as well in 4 years.
In my opinion this should be one of the strongest Olympics cycles we had, despite missing Jasikevičius. Contrary to London, we should have two major players in Motiejūnas and Valančiūnas. We had one and only star (coming after serious injury) in these Olympics - Kleiza. 2010 WC's crew will be peaking in Rio. And off course our never ending hope for young talents.
The flick from the future...