Lithuania: Lietuvos Benefit From Experienced Streimikyte

09.03.2005

By Doug Booth, PA International

Little Tomas Virbickas is only two but he does not realise, yet, the importance of his role in top women's basketball.

Tomas is the only child of star Lithuania and Lietuvos Telekomas Vilnius forward Jurgita Streimikyte and her husband, Dainius.

Streimikyte, who recently agreed to a one-year contract with WNBA side Indiana Fever, has done a deal with young Tomas about her professional playing career.

Jurgita Streimikyte
"When he doesn't want me to play professionally any more, then I will quit," the 32-year-old, who played for the Fever in the 2000 and 2001 seasons, told PA International.

Before that decision has to be made, however, Streimikyte has plenty of basketball ahead of her, including the quarter-finals of the FIBA EuroLeague Women, her WNBA summer campaign, and, perhaps, the FIBA Eurobasket Women Championships in Turkey in September.

Streimikyte has yet to decide whether to retire from international duties with Lithuania or to see if she can make the national team again in Turkey.

Lieutvos meet Dynamo Moscow in the best-of-three quarter-finals starting in Vilnius on March 15.

The Lithuania champions reached the last eight by disposing of Belgium's Dexia Namur.

Streimikyte was at her brilliant best in the second play-off match in Belgium, following up on her first game 16 points with a game-high 26 points.

The 32-year-old stepped up after league leading scorer Katie Douglas struggled under the intense Dexia pressure.

Douglas, who has been averaging more than 20 points per game, slumped in the round of last 16 as the Belgian champions held her to just seven points in the first play-off encounter.

But Douglas, who recovered in the second game against Dexia with 13 points and six assists, is delighted to have others sharing the workload on offence.

"My focus is not on personal achievement," said the 25-year-old guard, who will be on opposite teams to Streimikyte in America this summer.

Douglas, who has two years remaining on her contract with the Connecticut Suns, will suit up for her fifth WNBA season.

But, like Streimikyte, the immediate priority is Dynamo Moscow.

Lieutvos, who are making their first appearance in the FIBA EuroLeague Women play-offs since 2001, face a Dynamo team saturated with international experience.

Players such as Russia forwards Elena Baranova and Natalia Vodopyanova, center Elen Shakirova, US Olympic goal medal-winning guard Sue Bird, and Czech Republic forward Kamila Vodickova highlight the immensity of the Lithuania side's task.

"They are a very experienced team with a lot of big names," said Streimikyte, who conceded that Dynamo had the edge in that department on Lieutvos' younger players.

"Play-offs are different types of games to qualifying matches. We have to concentrate hard on defence and rebounding.

"We also have to keep our emotions under control because this is the first experience of play-offs for most of our team."

Lithuania will also be hoping that young Tomas Virbickas has plenty of toys to keep him happy for at least the next 12 months so his mother can continue to enhance the court.


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