Career: Neptunas Klaipeda (Lithuania-LKL. 1996-99). Lietuvos rytas Vilnius (Lithuania-LKL. 1999-2003). Tau Vitoria (Spain-ACB. 2003-05).
With Sarunas Jasikevicius and Saulius Stombergas missing, Lithuania’s sparkling shooter Arvydas Macijauskas will have to be the team’s leader. Is he up the challenge?… You want to bet?
They called him Kalashnikov. When Arvydas Macijauskas was methodically dismantling each and every defence in the LKL – the Lithuanian professional league – with Lietuvos rytas until 2003, word began to reach the rest of Europe from the local media.
There is a small wonder up there, they stated. A perfect shooter, they said. Don’t worry about his lack of size, they added… Well how good could a virtually unknown 23-year old, 1.92 guard, be?
You will find out they insisted. And Europe did find out, and liked what they saw.
"Macas" is what? The best pure shooter in the world? One of the best, at least. No question about it. And certainly the most deadly one in international basketball, along with Serbia's Predrag Stojakovic. And it did not take long for European fans to realise. After promising debuts with the national team, in the Semi-final Round of EuroBasket 2003 where he 17 ppg, the Klaipeda-born guard made a terrific impression during a friendly game against the French national team, on August 17, 2003. He scored 34 points, with an unreal 11/13 from the floor. In Sweden, he was already the leading scorer of the eventual champion and topped his team-mates in this area in the final game against Spain (21 points).
He then went to another level, the Euroleague, with Tau Vitoria. For his "rookie season", he astonished opponents, with 18.5ppg at 49.8 FG%! In December 2003, he exploded for 78 points in three days : 38 against the Spanish side Barcelona and 40 against French team ASVEL.
In 2004-05 his progress began to slow, well, his scoring "decreased" to 16.0ppg in the Euroleague. In fact, "Macas" became a better player. He learned how to remain valuable even when facing several defenders. He admits himself that he has understood how to dominate a game without scoring 20 points. He also made progress on defense and firmly proved that, if necessary, he can switch to the playmaker position.
His secret? Great hands, of course. A winner’s mentality, a relentless work ethic and very good court vision. But, above all, a rare combination of quickness and shooting ability. That is the key for him to overcome his "small" body at his position. His foot speed and his quick release make his shot very difficult to block.
Next season, he will face a new challenge, the NBA, with the New Orleans Hornets. His warmest fans will have a chance to finally compare him to a legendary European guard, who gave the art of "three-point shooting" a global dimension… The late Drazen Petrovic.