BC Lietuvos rytas
|BC Lietuvos rytas|
Lithuanian Basketball League
VTB United League
|Founded||1964 (as Statyba)
1997 (as Lietuvos Rytas)
Statyba-Lietuvos rytas (1997–1998)
Lietuvos Rytas (1998–present)
Lietuvos rytas Arena
|Team colors||Black, White and Red
|Team Manager||Martynas Purlys|
|Head coach||Aleksandar Petrović|
5 Lithuanian Championships
3 LKF Cup
1 North European League
3 Baltic Championships
1 Baltic Presidents Cup
BC Lietuvos rytas, also known simply as Rytas, is a Lithuanian professional basketball club based in Vilnius, Lithuania. The club, founded in 1997 on the basis of another club, BC Statyba, is one of the most successful Lithuanian basketball clubs. Rytas, among other titles, have won two Eurocup titles, five Lithuanian League titles, three Lithuanian Cups and three Baltic Championships. Lietuvos Rytas plays their home games at 11,000-seat Siemens Arena and 1,700-seat Lietuvos rytas Arena. They also had a daughter club Perlas which was used for the development of young players, but after two seasons in LKL it was dissolved.
Some of the greatest Lithuanian basketball players have played for Lietuvos Rytas over the years including: Šarūnas Jasikevičius, Ramūnas Šiškauskas, Arvydas Macijauskas, Jonas Valančiūnas, Martynas Gecevičius, Renaldas Seibutis, Simas Jasaitis, Robertas Javtokas, Darius Songaila, Marijonas Petravičius, Rimantas Kaukėnas, Rimas Kurtinaitis, Gintaras Einikis.
- 1 History
- 1.1 The origins (1963–1997)
- 1.2 First successes (1997–2002)
- 1.3 Foreign coaches era (2004–2008)
- 1.4 Rimas Kurtinaitis era (2008–2010)
- 1.5 2010s (present)
- 2 Players
- 3 Honours
- 4 Season by season
- 5 Important people and venues
- 6 Notable players
- 7 Individual awards
- 8 Sponsorships and partners
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The origins (1963–1997)
In 1963 first basketball team from Vilnius, called Žalgiris, was formed. Next year it changed its name to Plastikas. The same year, 1964, Plastikas players joined a new team, called Statyba. This name was used for over 30 years.
Jonas Kazlauskas, Rimas Girskis, and then head coach Rimantas Endrijaitis led Statyba to a third place in the 1979 Soviet Union Championship. Three years later, Šarūnas Marčiulionis joined the team and became its leader. In 1987, Artūras Karnišovas joined the team at the age of 16. In 1994 Statyba won bronze medals in first LKL season.
In 1995 biggest Lithuanian newspaper Lietuvos rytas started sponsoring Sūduva Marijampolė, a basketball club from Marijampolė, Lithuania. The partnership lasted for two seasons, during which the team was known as Lietuvos Rytas Marijampolė and played in the second-tier Lithuanian league, the LKAL. A notable player for the team was teenager Darius Songaila. However, after 1996–97 season partnership ended.
At the same time Statyba faced with financial difficulties and was at the verge of bankruptcy. The team needed new investors and in 1997 Lietuvos rytas bought the club. However, new owners didn't want to continue Statyba history and started anew – the team was renamed to Statyba-Lietuvos rytas, then just Lietuvos rytas. The newspaper's investment helped the club to establish itself as one of two best in Lithuania, the other being BC Žalgiris from the country's second-largest city Kaunas.
First successes (1997–2002)
During its first season, Lietuvos Rytas managed to repeat Statyba's biggest achievement in LKL and won bronze. Next season was even better - Rytas won LKL silver, losing only to reigning Euroleague's champions BC Žalgiris.
However, the biggest success at that time came in 2000, when Vilnius' side, led by the so-called "big three" — Ramūnas Šiškauskas, Andrius Giedraitis and Eric Elliott, also combined with youngsters Arvydas Macijauskas and Robertas Javtokas, managed to win LKL. The team was coached by Šarūnas Sakalauskas. It was the first time in the history of the Lithuanian Basketball League when Žalgiris did not win the LKL title. Also, Rytas reached the Saporta Cup semifinal, where they met last season Euroleague runner-up Kinder. After an upsetting home win 70–60, Lietuvos rytas lost in Italy 71–83, with Šiškauskas missing a three-pointer which would've won the two-game series for his team.
In 2002 Lietuvos rytas repeated their triumph, this time in a dramatic seven-game final series with the last game decided in overtime. The team played without center Robertas Javtokas, who was seriously injured in a motorbike crash. Lietuvos rytas also won the NEBL title in 2002, becoming the last team winning the tournament. The team held first place in the group stage of the Saporta Cup, but lost in the quarter-finals to Hapoel Jerusalem B.C.
Foreign coaches era (2004–2008)
2004–05 - ULEB Cup Champions
After not winning any title in the past two seasons Lietuvos Rytas decided that change was needed and started recruiting foreign coaches, first of them being Serbian Vlade Đurović. Midway through the season, team leader Frederick House suffered a season-ending injury, head coach Đurović resigned and was replaced by Slovenian Tomo Mahorič. Despite this, newcomer Tyrone Nesby, Latvian playmaker Roberts Štelmahers and an inspirational Lithuanian trio: Robertas Javtokas, Simas Jasaitis and Tomas Delininkaitis led the team to the victory of 2005 ULEB Cup, beating Pamesa Valencia in the semifinals and Makedonikos in the final. This victory granted them a place in the Euroleague, the continent's primary basketball club tournament. Lietuvos Rytas won second place in both the LKL and BBL finals.
2005–06 - Euroleague debut
Before the 2005–06 season, Croatian specialist Neven Spahija became the head coach of the team. Lietuvos rytas started the 2005-06 Euroleague season well. After losing their first two matches, Rytas matched the Euroleague record by winning seven consecutive Euroleague fixtures, defeating such teams as Winterthur FCB, champions Maccabi (twice) and Efes Pilsen. Those wins allowed Rytas to advance to Top 16 phase, where they won three times out of six, beating Tau Ceramica once and Brose Baskets twice. However, that was not enough and Lietuvos rytas was eliminated from that year's Euroleague.
After winning the Baltic Basketball League title, Lietuvos rytas won their easiest finals series, crushing Žalgiris 4–0. Despite winning the Lithuanian title, Lietuvos rytas did not acquire the country's spot for 2006–07 that was reserved to the archrival Žalgiris.
Although the coach and three leading players: Robertas Javtokas, Simas Jasaitis and Fred House had left the team during the interseason, the 2006–07 ULEB Cup season was rather successful for Lietuvos rytas as well, despite that two coaches were replaced during the season: Sharon Drucker from Israel was replaced by Slovenian Zmago Sagadin and the latter to his assistant coach Aleksandar Trifunović from Serbia. The roster was strengthened during the season when promising NBA player Kareem Rush arrived to lead the team to the ULEB Cup final where Lietuvos rytas was defeated by Real Madrid. However, Real Madrid's victory at the ACB semifinals and of one of four spots reserved for Spain allowed Lietuvos rytas to take part in the Euroleague 2007-08 season as the ULEB Cup finalist. On April 27, 2007, Lietuvos rytas won their second consecutive BBL title, Kareem Rush was named the Final Four MVP.
Lietuvos Rytas was very successful in the regular season of 2007–08 Euroleague, beating teams like Unicaja Málaga or Armani Jeans Milano. Very notable victories were achieved against future Euroleague finalists of that season, Maccabi Tel Aviv. On November 1, Lietuvos rytas defeated Maccabi by 18 points at home for a third time in a row as Artūras Jomantas led the team with 19 points and became the week's co-MVP with Erazem Lorbek, both having performance index ratings of 29. The fourth victory in a row over Maccabi (away, by 5 points) was due to spectacular performances by Hollis Price (19 points) and Chuck Eidson (28 points).
A road victory against Cibona Zagreb on January 31, 2008 completed the Euroleague regular season for Lietuvos rytas and allowed them to remain at the first spot in the Group B securing a favorable position in the first pool before the Top 16 draw together with CSKA Moscow, Real Madrid and Panathinaikos Athens. Their 11–3 record was the team's best regular-season performance ever, and the best by a Lithuanian team in Euroleague at the time. However, the team wasn't as successful in the Top 16 and with record of 2–4 did not advance to playoffs.
Lietuvos rytas were the runner-up at all: the Lithuanian Basketball League, the Baltic Basketball League and the Lithuanian Cup.
Rimas Kurtinaitis era (2008–2010)
The 2008–2009 season was met by the team with a significantly reduced budget, putting a greater emphasis on young and perspective local players. Nevertheless, Lietuvos rytas managed to win the first Baltic Basketball Presidents Cup. In October 21, 2008, Lietuvos Rytas had a first chance ever to play against NBA basketball club Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. Lietuvos Rytas lost that game with result 106:126.
However, as many other Baltic professional sports clubs, Lietuvos rytas had to face the blow of financial crisis in late 2008 and early 2009. Having lost two of its foreign leaders  Lietuvos rytas still managed to reach the second phase of Eurocup finishing second in their group with three home wins and three away losses. Head coach Antanas Sireika resigned and was replaced by a former Lietuvos rytas' player Rimas Kurtinaitis for the second half of the season. The team has started second phase of the Eurocup with only two foreign players, Chuck Eidson (a teammate of Petravičius at South Carolina) and Milko Bjelica on its roster which had been refreshed with promising Lithuanians. However, that was enough and Rytas successfully advanced to Final 8. Chuck Eidson was named the regular season MVP.
The Final 8 started with a victory against Benetton Treviso in quarterfinal on April 2, 2009. Two days later the team won semifinal against Hemofarm Vršac and made the third consecutive appearance in the ULEB Eurocup finals. Mindaugas Lukauskis has made a decisive three-pointer and that allowed him to become the only player to participate in the final three times in total and, later, the only two-times ULEB Cup champion. Going into finals, Rytas was considered underdog against rich Russian team BC Khimki. However, terrific performances of Steponas Babrauskas (18 points) and Marijonas Petravičius (20 points) allowed the team to overcome the odds and win the final. Lietuvos rytas made an outstanding 15:0 run, having left their rivals empty for 6 straight minutes in the third and fourth quarters. Rytas became the first team to reclaim the Eurocup title, while Marijonas Petravičius became the Final 8 MVP.
Lietuvos rytas was very successful in matches against archrival Žalgiris too. Firstly, it won the 2009 LKF Cup, with Mindaugas Lukauskis scoring the game-winning three pointer with 2 seconds left. Next was the Baltic Basketball League final game - it was won by Lietuvos rytas on April 25, 2009 over Žalgiris, 97 to 74. Chuck Eidson scored 41 points and was announced the MVP. It was the third BBL title for the club, compared to Žalgiris' two. The final trophy of the season was the Lithuanian Basketball League (LKL). Lietuvos rytas swept past all the teams in the playoffs and qualified to the finals. There Vilnius team confronted their rival Žalgiris Kaunas and won the series 4 to 1, the final match taking place on May 18. This was the 4th time Lietuvos rytas became the LKL champion. It was the 5th trophy of the season for the team from 5 possible ones.
After the season team leaders Marijonas Petravičius, Mindaugas Lukauskis and Chuck Eidson left the team and Lietuvos rytas acquired new perspective players to replace them. The team began their 2009-2010 season with a dramatic loss to their rivals BC Žalgiris 78 to 83 in BBL Cup finals. Lietuvos rytas also participated in the 2009 Gomelsky Cup, in which the team claimed third place after a near-loss game against Triumph Lyubertsy 94 to 90.
Lietuvos rytas was not successful in Euroleague – they lost the deciding game against Unicaja Málaga, took the 5th place in Group B and did not advance to the Top 16. However, their fierce battles with BC Žalgiris continued. After winning the LKF Cup by the score of 77:65, Lietuvos rytas, having problems with players injuries, suffered a loss in the BBL Finals to their rivals from Kaunas, 66 to 73. However, Lietuvos rytas took revenge and won the LKL trophy, beating Žalgiris after a thrilling series 4–3. It was the second consecutive LKL title of Vilnius' team. After the conclusion of the season, head coach Rimas Kurtinaitis left the club to be replaced by Croatian Dražen Anzulović.
The Euroleague 2010–2011 season was the fourth one for Lietuvos rytas. After an unsuccessful start of the season, Dražen Anzulović was replaced by the team's former coach Aleksandar Trifunović. The result being 0-4 in their Group C, the team signed free agent Lithuanian star and a former team member Šarūnas Jasikevičius. After winning 3 of 3 last Euroleague group phase games, Rytas qualified for the Top 16 stage in the fourth berth during their last games. At the New Year's Eve Jasikevičius was replaced by a former member of the team Simas Jasaitis, also a free agent.
The Top 16 phase was the most successful for the team from all its 3 attempts. Playing in the Group E Lietuvos rytas defeated Caja Laboral at home, Panathinaikos Athens and Unicaja Málaga on the road. The last round remaining, the team had a chance to finish first in their Top 16 E group. However, Lietuvos rytas lost to Caja Laboral and took the third place in the group. The 9th place in Euroleague is the highest achievement for Lietuvos Rytas in this tournament in whole club history.
However, the remaining part of the season was unsuccessful for the club as Lietuvos Rytas lost in the semi-final at the Baltic Basketball League and finished only in 3rd place for the first time in club history. The Coach Trifunović was replaced by assistant coach Darius Maskoliūnas. The game improved, but the team ended up losing to Žalgiris in the LKL finals, 4 games to 1.
After dismissing Milko Bjelica, Kenan Bajramović, D.J. Strawberry, Cemal Nalga and losing team leader Martynas Gecevičius, Lietuvos Rytas replaced 8 players and opened a new page in club history. The beginning of the season was not very successful as Lietuvos Rytas didn't win Euroleague's qualification tournament which was organized in Vilnius. Lietuvos Rytas won their first two matches against Budućnost and Cibona Zagreb, but lost the final game against Galatasaray with a score of 63:71. Because of that, Lietuvos Rytas had to play at the second-tier European competition - EuroCup. The team, led by Renaldas Seibutis, Jonas Valančiūnas and Tyrese Rice, made it to the EuroCup quarterfinal round for the fifth time in a row and defeated BC Donetsk there, but lost to Valencia Basket in the semifinals. Rytas finished third after defeating Spartak 71:62.
Lietuvos rytas finished 3rd in the regular season round of VTB United League and qualified for the eighth-final. They defeated BC Nizhny Novgorod there and advanced to quarterfinals where they met BC Khimki. Khimki were reigning Eurocup and VTB league champions and they were considered heavy favorites, but, unexpectedly, Rytas won the series 2:1. The Final Four tournament was organized at Siemens Arena. After a tense semifinal Lietuvos Rytas lost to CSKA and went on to win 3rd place against Lokomotiv-Kuban.
Despite two 3rd places in international competitions, Rytas lost the LKL final series to Žalgiris 0:3. This was the worst domestic season in team's history - Rytas lost all 6 of its matches (5 in LKL and 1 in BBL) to its rival. Following the conclusion of the season, Tyrese Rice, Lawrence Roberts, Aleksandar Rašić and Jonas Valančiūnas left the team.
After losing most of their leaders during the summer, Rytas formed a younger squad. Players like Nemanja Nedović were expected to be the future of the team. However, the season was not very successful. It started with loss of Lithuanian Supercup to BC Žalgiris. After struggling to find rhythm in the opening months, Lietuvos Rytas released coach Aleksandar Džikić, promoting Maskoliūnas as head coach. Though the game has improved, thanks to the solid play of Leon Radošević, Renaldas Seibutis and Nemanja Nedović, the Euroleague season was finished only with a 2-8 record. The team did not fare much better in the VTB United League. After Leon Radošević and Predrag Samardžiski were released, Rytas signed Milt Palacio, Tomislav Zubčić and Patrick O'Bryant. However, the rookies didn't help much and Rytas still missed the VTB playoffs, with BC Donetsk defeating Rytas in the deciding game. Coach Maskoliūnas was fired then and replaced with Dirk Bauermann. Rytas started to play much better then, and in April scored a shocking away win over BC Žalgiris (first one in almost 2 years). Rytas made the LKL finals for the 15th time in a row. However, BC Žalgiris easily swept Lietuvos Rytas 4-0 in the final.
Due to the unsuccessful past season, the manager decided to almost completely rebuild the team: eight players left after the team lost LKL finals to the rival Žalgiris. Former team leader Martynas Gecevičius was recalled after two seasons break and a notable point guard Omar Cook was signed. Because the team was second in the domestic league, it had to hope for a Euroleague wild card. The team did not receive it, and had to participate in Euroleague's qualification tournament once again, which was held in Vilnius. This time, Rytas, led by Renaldas Seibutis and Martynas Gecevičius, was successful: it won three games in a row (against VEF Rīga, EWE Oldenburg and Telenet Oostende), and qualified for the Euroleague. To strengthen the team roster before Euroleague games, Lietuvos rytas signed former NBA and Lithuania national team player Darius Songaila. On October 18, 2013, Lietuvos rytas started 13/14 Euroleague season with a tremendous victory against Panathinaikos Athens with the result 84–83 after Renaldas Seibutis winning shot in OT. The game was named as the Euroleague's Game of the Week and re-broadcast in over 150 countries worldwide. However, after this, the level of play for the Lithuanian team dropped significantly and Rytas was not able to win any more games. 6 games were lost by 10 points or more and it turned out to be worst Lietuvos rytas season ever in Euroleague. Following the fiasco, coach Dirk Bauermann was replaced by Croat Aleksandar Petrović. The change helped and on December 22, 2013, Rytas crushed its rival Žalgiris with the result 90–58.
Lietuvos rytas roster
|Pos.||Starting 5||Bench 1||Bench 2||Bench 3|
|C||Darius Songaila||Tautvydas Lydeka|
|PF||Juan Palacios||Stevan Jelovac|
|SF||Renaldas Seibutis||Gediminas Orelik||Eimantas Bendžius|
|SG||Martynas Gecevičius||Steponas Babrauskas||Edvinas Šeškus|
|PG||Omar Cook||Zabian Dowdell|
Squad changes for/during the 2013/14 season
Note: exact date is listed for players who joined or left during season.
Out on Loan
Total titles: 14
- Lithuanian Championship
- Winners (5): 2000, 2002, 2006, 2009, 2010
- Lithuanian Cup
- Winners (3): 1998, 2009, 2010
- ULEB Eurocup
- Small Triple Crown (unofficial)
- Winners (1): 2009
- North European Basketball League
- Winners (1): 2002
- Runners-up (1): 2000
- Baltic Basketball League
- Winners (3): 2006, 2007, 2009
- BBL Presidents Cup
- Winners (1): 2008
Season by season
Important people and venues
|1997–1998||Ekinsta Sports Hall||1,000|
|1998–2004||Lietuvos rytas Sports Arena
|At first capacity of 2000, later expanded to 3500.|
|2004–present||Siemens Arena||11,000||Used for all Euroleague/Eurocup/VTB games and some LKL games|
|2004–present||Lietuvos rytas Arena||1,700||Used for most LKL games and practices.|
In Lietuvos rytas
To appear in this section a player must be either:
- A player who has played at least 3 seasons (if foreign player) or 4 seasons (if Lithuanian player) for the club.
- A player who has won individual award.
- A Lithuanian player who has played for the Lithuanian national basketball team.
- A foreign international player who had significant impact (was a leader) in the club.
Notable head coaches
To appear in this section head coach must have coached the club for at least one full season and won a title.
- Alfredas Vainauskas 1997–2001
- Šarūnas Sakalauskas 1998–2001
- Jonas Kazlauskas 2001–2004
- Neven Spahija 2005–2006
- Aleksandar Trifunović 2007–2008, 2010–2011
- Rimas Kurtinaitis 2008–2010
Best Eurocup Coach of All Time
Final Four MVP
Sponsorships and partners
As of January 2014:
- Statyba history, bcstatyba.lt (Lithuanian)
- Lietuvos rytas Euroleague page, euroleague.net, accessed 31 December 2010. (English)
- Jonas Vainauskas about beginnings of Lietuvos rytas, krepsinis.net (Lithuanian)
- Javtokas injured, delfi.lt (Lithuanian)
- Fred House about his injury, eurocupbasketball.com, (English)
- Lietuvos Rytas - Golden State Warriors game at Oracle Arena, ESPN (English)
- Nielsen leaves Lietuvos Rytas, basketnews.lt (Lithuanian)
- Lukauskis three-pointer won the cup for Rytas, basketnews.lt (Lithuanian)
- Lietuvos Rytas wins 2009 BBL, lrytas.lt (Lithuanian)
- Lietuvos Rytas has problems with players injuries, sportas.info (Lithuanian)
- Lietuvos Rytas adds floor general Cook, euroleague.net (English)
- 2013 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Qualifying Rounds, euroleague.net (English)
- LIETUVOS RYTAS adds veteran forward Songaila, Euroleague.net (English)
- Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius vs. Panathinaikos Athens, Euroleague.net (English)
- Play of the Night: Renaldas Seibutis, Lietuvos Rytas (video) (English)
- Euroleague named Lietuvos rytas and Panathinaikos game as the game of the week, lrytas.lt (Lithuanian)
- Lietuvos Rytas hires Petrović, basketnews.lt (Lithuanian)
- Lietuvos Rytas beats Žalgiris, delfi.lt (Lithuanian)
- Rimas Kurtinaitis chosen as best Eurocup coach of all time, eurocupbasketball.com (English)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to BC Lietuvos Rytas.|
- Official website (Lithuanian) (English)
- BC Lietuvos rytas at Euroleague.net (English)
- BC Lietuvos rytas at LKL.lt (Lithuanian)
- BC Lietuvos rytas at VTB-League.com (English) (Russian)
- Lietuvos rytas players stats (1997-2008) (Lithuanian)