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Big Changes Afoot at Zalgiris

20 October 2011
BASKETBALL IN EUROPE

Greece Head Coach Ilias Zouros
The flip side of a coach's job - Ilias Zouros, double champion last May with Zalgiris, has been removed only weeks into the new season

Zalgiris Kaunas decided to part with one national team coach this week when they showed Greece boss Ilias Zouros the door, following the club's defeat to CSKA Moscow in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague.

Now, according to the Lithuanian media, the hot favorite to replace Zouros is another national team coach, Kestutis Kemzura of Lithuania.

Both men were in action this summer with their national sides at the EuroBasket in Kaunas but lost in the Quarter-Finals.

They rebounded, however, by winning their following games to clinch top-six finishes and earn places in next year's FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Kemzura and Lithuania ended the EuroBasket on a winning note, in fact, by beating Zouros and Greece 73-69 in the battle for fifth place.

Zouros, who took over Zalgiris last season shortly before the Euroleague Top 16, steered the team to Baltic and Lithuanian league titles.

After this summer's EuroBasket, he resumed his duties with Zalgiris and the club won three games to start to the LKL and two out of three in the VTB United League.

Club supremo Vladimir Romanov wasn't impressed with the club's form, however, and Monday's 87-74 home setback for Zalgiris to CSKA Moscow on the opening night of the Euroleague Regular Season proved to be Zouros' last game in charge.

Romanov removed the Greek and put sport director Vitoldas Massalski in charge on an interim basis.

"Each game," Romanov said, "the team was playing worse so the result is that we have to change the coach before it's too late.

"If one or two players played badly before, now it was four players."

Zouros was the Eurocup Coach of the Year after leading Panellinios into the Final Four in 2010.

Kemzura has been the head coach of two clubs in Russia - BC Khimki and more recently Lokomotiv Kuban.

He led Lokomotiv to a runner-up finish at the 2010-11 EuroChallenge Final Four earlier this year.

His finest moment at the helm of Lithuania's national team came in 2010 when he coached the wild-card team to the bronze medal.

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