|12 June 2013|
EUROBASKET WOMEN 2013
|Monika Grigalauskyte is part of a new generation, taking the torch for Lithuania|
Each weekday in the lead up to the EuroBasket Women, fibaeurope.com profiles the sixteen teams who will be appearing in France. This time it's Lithuania, our final Group D team, and wrapping up our previews.
Road to EuroBasket Women 2013: Lithuania finished second in Group C last summer, with six wins from their eight qualification games.
Team History: It's sixteen years since Lithuania topped the podium for the only time in their history and they last made it to the semi-finals back during 2005.
Keep an Eye On: The real plus point for Lithuania is that former FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year Ginatre Petronyte may be rejuvenating her career and finally dealing with the aftermath of the overwhelming expectation which accompanied her during her teenage years. Having perhaps struggled to live up to the hype so far, she was simply outstanding last summer when she amassed a staggering double-double of 18.3 points and 11.5 rebounds-per-game to drive her team to another Final Round appearance. She is a powerful player who seems to be maturing and fine-tuning her game under the hoop and she will be tough to contain for opposing defences. Also worth watching will be Iveta Salkauske who returns six years after her last outing at a Final Round. The veteran has never failed to register a double-digit scoring return at any of the three major tournaments she has participated in. Her scoring ability and experience could be priceless and she has already shown her importance in the warm-up games.
X Factors: This could well be the tournament which sees the 1989-1991 born players, who have already proved themselves at senior level, cement their place on the leadership throne. Giedre Paugaite is no stranger to France and will be a better player for her experiences with USO Mondeville. She must form an effective frontcourt partnership with Petronyte. Meanwhile Inesa Visgaudite was given the responsibility of starting point guard in most games last summer and she will have to really shine to keep her team rolling in the competition. But, the biggest ‘X-Factor' could well be Kamile Nacickaite. She's a threat from behind the arc and whilst she didn't find her true shooting touch last summer, if she does get hot this time around, it could transform the chance of Lithuania making some noise in the competition. She is a potential game-changer and a clear and present danger with the ball in her hands.
In Summary: Lithuania must be ready to roll without their established core of senior players in Sandra Linkeviciene, Rima Valentiene, Egle Sulciute and Ausra Bimbaite - as well as the recently injured Maria Solopova and Greta Sniokaite. A regular quarter-finalist in the competition, another could be in sight if Petronyte takes last summer's blistering form onto the court. But, a number of other new leaders must emerge to make it past the group stage. They have a wily and skilled hand on the steering wheel in Coach Paulauskas, but even he may struggle to keep his team in the hunt for a place in the final stages, with so many influential faces absent. With an overpoweringly youthful feel, they may be better placed to excel in 2015.