|28 September 2012|
|Kestutis Kemzura led Lithuania to a surprising bronze medal at the 2010 World Championship in Turkey and a fifth-place finish at EuroBasket 2011 |
Kestutis Kemzura has left the Lithuania national team coaching position with his head held high.
He was not the choice of the country's basketball federation to lead the team at next year's EuroBasket in Slovenia, with Jonas Kazlauskas instead appointed as the new boss.
Now preparing to lead Asseco Prokom Gdynia in Poland's top flight and the Turkish Airlines Euroleague, Kemzura is putting all of his energy into his new job and not fretting about what might have been for Lithuania.
There has been criticism in Lithuania leveled at Kemzura, as one might expect in a country where basketball ranks number one among all sports.
The Baltic giants only made it to the Quarter-Finals at the London Games, losing a hard-fought contest to eventual bronze medalists Russia.
"I take responsibility," Kemzura said to Lrytas.lt.
"However, I disagree vehemently that the team had gone down and that the result is a tragedy."
The result marked the first time since Lithuania's independence that the country did not achieve at least a fourth-place finish.
"Ups and downs are inevitable for all teams," Kemzura said.
"We are not an exception."
In his three years at the helm, the objective observer could make a case that Kemzura did a very good job.
One year after an horrendous EuroBasket 2009 campaign, when Lithuania failed to reach the Quarter-Finals, Kemzura led the national side to the World Championship bronze medal in Turkey.
Last year, without star players Linas Kleiza and Jonas Maciulis when Lithuania hosted the EuroBasket, Kemzura's squad still advanced to the Quarter-Finals and only bowed out of medal contention after a heart-breaking loss to F.Y.R. of Macedonia.
This year, Lithuania's national team had to take a very hard journey to Caracas, Venezuela, for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament and it claimed one of three places for the London Games yet in Britain, they exited at the Quarter-Final stage.
Kemzura also made it clear that he only wants the best for Lithuania in the future, including for Kazlauskas.
The veteran coach had previously coached Lithuania from 1997-2001.
"This is their choice," Kemzura said.
"I am glad that Mr Kazlauskas is returning to the squad.
"I wish both Jonas and the whole team good luck."