VMU Basketball Starts 15th Season with a Splash

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On Monday, October 8th, VMU’s basketball team took the court against VGTU to kick off its 15th season, marking the anniversary opener with a 89-64 victory under the VMU Sport Centre roof.

This year, the Lithuanian Student Basketball League (LSBL) Men’s Group 1 division includes teams from nine Lithuanian universities: VMU, MRU, KU, ŠU, LSU (LKKA), VU, KTU, VGTU, and LEU. During the regular season, each team will face every other squad in the division twice, once at home, once away. At the end of the 16-game season, the top four teams, determined by win-loss record (and aggregate point total in the case of a tie), will compete for the LSBL championship.

The VMU squad spent the busy off-season revitalizing their team by finding new players. As of now, more than half of the players on the team are rookies. While the team had to say goodbye to graduating veterans Povilas Butkevičius, Marius Valukonis, Adas Juškevičius, and internationally-bound Šarūnas Vasiliauskas and Ernestas Ežerskis, there’s definite potential and considerable upside in their replacements, rising stars Artūras Gudaitis, Paulius Vaitiekūnas, Tauras Jogėla, and Vaidas Kariniauskas.

The off-season overhaul hasn’t dampened the spirit or performance of VMU’s team, however – the squad showed both promise and delivery in Monday’s victory over VGTU. The unit jumped out of the gate, moved the ball well, and finished the first quarter with a 19-13 lead. In the second, VMU overcame a series of turnovers to increase the margin to 42-32 by halftime.

After the half, VMU’s boys continued to build their lead, ending the third with a comfortable 69-49 lead. Thanks to a 9-0 run to start the fourth, VMU found itself in the driver’s seat, and at this point the game was pretty much done and dusted. The final minutes, a mere formality at this point, ran off the clock and VMU celebrated its 89-64 victory, the first of the season.

Despite the blow-out win, VMU head coach Arūnas Juknevičius evaluated the result with caution: “It’s difficult to assess our team based on one performance. After all, the VGTU squad has gone through a lot of changes this past year, and they don’t have the chemistry down just yet. On the other hand, our team has also been through similar changes; today we had nine different freshmen and sophomores out there.”

Coach Juknevičius says he expects the presence of the rookies to motivate the rest of the team to win every single game: “It’s likely that we’ll have to fight harder this year, but in no way are we giving up dreams of winning gold. We’ll do everything we can to see it shining on our chests once again.”

According to the team’s general manager Vladas Juknevičius, this year marks the birth of a new generation in the team‘s history: “The style of play is bound to change, especially when the veterans graduate. It’s difficult to remain competitive. Since the League’s inception not too long ago, I’ve seen how this or that university’s team plays in the final one year, and then struggles to finish anywhere but last the next. But I don’t think that our team faces this kind of situation. We still have plenty of experienced players, and our rookies have the potential to successfully replace last year’s graduates. So we have no intention of giving up on our goal of winning the League this 15th anniversary LSBL season. However, we know it won’t be easy.”

VMU’s men’s basketball team appreciates your support and invites you to attend all of their games this season. Home games are free of charge, away games TBD.

Also, be sure to pick up your VMU basketball card! Collect various stamps throughout the season and become eligible to win one of many select prizes! Last year’s winners won VMU basketball t-shirts autographed by every player on the team.

Photos from VMU’s basketball team’s first practice this season can be found on their Facebook page. For more information, please visit the team’s website

VMU’s Men’s Basketball upcoming schedule for October/November 2012:

October 15th KTU – VDU 6:30p.m. KTU gym Radvilėnų pl. 19, Kaunas
October 22nd LEU – VDU 6:30p.m. LEU gym Studentų g. 39, Vilnius
October 29th VDU – LSU 6:30p.m. VDU gym Draugystės g. 19, Kaunas
November 5th VU – VDU 7:15p.m. VU gym Saulėtekio g. 2, Vilnius
November 12th VDU – ŠU 7:30p.m. VDU gym Draugystės g. 19, Kaunas
November 19th VDU – KU 6:30p.m. VDU gym Draugystės g. 19, Kaunas
November 26th MRU – VDU 6:30p.m. MRU gym Ateities pl. 20, Vilnius

LSBL Men’s Group 1 division 2012-2013 season schedule

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