When it comes to enthusiasm for the sport of basketball, there is no doubt that Lithuanians are amongst the most passionate fans in Europe, as proven at EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania. The small country looks back at a rich basketball history and takes pride in every medal won by the national teams.
The Lithuanian Basketball Federation (Lietuvos Krepsinio Federacija/LKF), founded in 1932, is responsible for the development and image of basketball in Lithuania. Having its offices in Kaunas and Vilnius, the Federation manages the sport on all levels - from social activities to the national teams.
One of the main goals is to preserve the status of basketball as the number one sport in the country, building on and adding to the basketball tradition in the country. Projects like "A basketball day at my school" were installed to attract young children to basketball.
Lithuania is known for its various basketball academies, both for boys and girls. Kaunas alone is the home of seven basketball schools, with the Arvydas Sabonis Basketball Centre being the most famous. Children aged from six to 18 are being taught the fundamentals of basketball and prepared for a professional career, while also profiting on a personal level.
|LKF President Arvydas Sabonis with his son Domantas at this year's U16 European Championship|
Arvydas Sabonis is not the only legendary player to have founded his own basketball academy. In 1992, the Sarunas Marciulionis Basketball Academy opened its doors, starting with 300 players and the idea to not only form outstanding athletes, but also universally educated and honest young people.
Having completed astonishing international careers, both Sabonis and Marciulionis have served as role models for decades. They excelled as top scorers of the Lithuanian national team that won the bronze medal at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 against the Com. of Independent States, the first medal since the Lithuanian independency in 1991, and unanimously one of the most meaningful up to date.
Before having been incorporated in the Soviet Union, Lithuania already had two gold medals under their belt, as they were crowned champions at the European Championships in 1937 and 1939, the latter being held in Kaunas. The European Championship for Men 1941 was also supposed to be organised in Lithuania, but never took place due to World War II.
|Lithuania celebrate with their fans after winning Gold at European Championship for Men 2003|
While the women's senior national team claimed gold at the European Championship in 1997, their only one in history, the men had to wait until 2003 to reach the top of the podium again. Conducted by Sarunas Jasikevicius, the Lithuanians celebrated team basketball on their unbeaten run to the title.
The next generation is already eager to follow in the footsteps and to showcase their skills on senior level. 1992-born Jonas Valanciunas and his teammates have capped an impressive run this summer, as they have won every youth championship from the U16 European Championship 2008 to the U20 European Championship 2012. The Final of the U18 European Championship 2010 remains unforgettable, as Lithuania clinched the title in front of a record 13,000-strong home crowd.
STATS & FACTS
Year of foundation: 1932
President: Arvydas Sabonis
Secretary General: Mindaugas Balciunas
- U18 Men: 6,854
- U18 Women: 1,651
- Senior Men: 1,542
- Senior Women: 686
- Juniors: approximately 60,000
- Seniors: approximately 77,000
Registered clubs: 162
Registered coaches: 308
|Lithuania clinch the title at the U16 European Championship Men in 2008, their first ever at this age level|
NATIONAL TEAM MEDALS & TITLES
1937 European Championship for Men in Riga (Latvia): Gold
1938 European Championship for Women in Rome (Italy): Silver
1939 European Championship for Men in Kaunas (Lithuania): Gold
1992 Olympic Games : Tournament for Men in Barcelona (Spain): Bronze
1994 European Championship for Junior Men in Tel Aviv (Israel): Gold
1995 European Championship for Men in Athens (Greece): Silver
1996 European Championship for Men '22 and Under' in Bursa, Istanbul (Turkey): Gold
1996 Olympic Games : Tournament for Men in Atlanta (USA): Bronze
1997 European Championship for Women in Pécs, Zalaegerszeg, Budapest (Hungary): Gold
2000 Olympic Games : Tournament for Men in Sydney (Australia): Bronze
2003 World Championship for Junior Men in Thessaloniki (Greece): Silver
2003 European Championship for Men in Boras, Lulea, Norrköpping, Södertälje, Stockholm (Sweden): Gold
2004 European Championship for Men U20 in Brno (Czech Republic): Bronze
2005 U21 World Championship for Men in Cordoba, Mar del Plata (Argentina): Gold
2005 U20 European Championship Men in Chekhov (Russia): Silver
2006 U16 European Championship Women in Kosice (Slovak Republic): Bronze
2006 U18 European Championship Men in Amaliada, Olympia and Argostoli (Greece): Silver
2007 U16 European Championship Men in Rethimnon, Crete (Greece): Bronze
2007 EuroBasket in Alicante, Granada, Sevilla, Palma de Mallorca, Madrid (Spain): Bronze
2008 U20 European Championship Men in Riga (Latvia): Silver
2008 U18 European Championship Men in Amaliada, Pyrgos (Greece): Silver
2008 U18 European Championship Women in Nitra (Slovak Republic): Gold
2008 U16 European Championship Men in Chieti (Italy): Gold
2009 U16 European Championship Men in Kaunas (Lithuania): Silver
2010 U16 European Championship Men in Bar (Montenegro): Silver
2010 U18 European Championship Men in Vilnius (Lithuania): Gold
2010 World Championship in Ankara, Izmir, Kayseri, Istanbul (Turkey): Bronze
2011 U19 World Championship in Liepaja, Valmiera and Riga (Latvia): Gold
2012 U18 European Championship Men in Vilnius, Liepaja (Lithuania): Silver
2012 U20 European Championship Men in Kranjska Gora, Domzale, Ljubljana (Slovenia): Gold