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Coach and players of „Tornado“ basketball school rised winner‘s Cup of Youth Euroleague

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Euroleague "adidas Next Generation" youth tournament took place in Kaunas Žalgiris Arena on February 8-10, 2019. Two players of “Tornado” basketball school - seventeen-year-old Gytis Mačionis and fourteen-year-old Paulius Murauskas played in Kauno “Žalgiris” team. Šarūnas Zablockis – coach of our school, worked as a coach assistant.

For the first place in the group Žalgiris young players played against CFBB Paris (France), Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar (Russia) and Torrons Vicens L‘Hospitalet (Spain). After beating all the teams, they were ready for the most important game of this tournament. Opponent became Vilniaus “Rytas” team. Players from capital of Lithuanian won games against DBA Copenhagen (Denmark), Moscow CSKA (Russia) and lost against Rome Stellazzurra (Italy). So, the battle for the travel to the Final Four of the Next Generation tournament was Lithuanian and principled. In the finals one leg ahead of the game was Kaunas Žalgiris team. In the first half, the guys gained an eight point advantage and slightly widened the gap. With the siren announcing the end of the match, the legendary Queen's song "We are the champions" was dedicated to Kaunas “Žalgiris” team.

Gytis Mačionis – player of “Tornado” basketball school played in all four games of tournament. He wasn’t a player of starting five, but he was important person in every match. Gytis played great game in the final game against Vilniaus “Rytas”, where he became one of the top scoring players. Paulius Murauskas appeared in two matches episodically. This tournament has become an invaluable experience for this only fifteen years old talented player.


Žaista rungt.







Gytis Mačionis








Paulius Murauskas








Short interview with Gytis Mačionis, who demonstrated a great game on the court:

- Gyti, you’ve been playing in Kauno “Žalgiris” team (in the Regional basketball league _ RKL) since the start of the season. Did you expect to become one of the twelve basketball players in Žalgiris  team in Youth Euroleague tournament?

- Well, to be honest, I had some hope that I would be taken to the top 12. I told myself quietly that I would try and work hard to be on that team. Hard work has paid off.

-  Team you played  in RKL was lead by other coach. Mantas Šernius taking the lead in this tournament. Has much changed in the preparation phase?  Did you have to try to prove to the coach in such a short time that you are worth playing and how did you manage to find a common language with the new coach?

- We didn't have much time in the preparation cycle, about 3-4 days. Thus, the players tried to be as focused as possible and listened carefully to the coach's details in both defense and offense. I wanted to prove to the coach that I deserve to play in the Youth Euroleague, and to try to stay focused and do what the coach said.

- What was the most difficult for you in this tournament? 

-  I think the hardest part was dealing with the excitement. I wondered what would happen if I failed if I made a mistake. But I think everything went well.

-  You played final game very good and became one of the most successful players. What was the secret of our success?

-  That day was really special for me and for whole tem – we became champions! And the secret to success, I think, were fans and self-confidence!

Šarūnas Zablockis described the tournament in the eyes of the coach.

- All the coach staff was from “Žalgiris” system, so seems it wasn’t difficult to get to work with one another. What were the most difficult tasks in preparation for the Euroleague Youth Tournament?

- I think we were "done" before the tournament. The hardest part was that our team was merged from Žalgiris – 2 and Žalgiris – 3 teams and a few other players from other cities. So we had to organize games with clear rules on both - in offence and in deffence. All the players knew their role, only played for the sake of the team and I think everything went well.

- There were some talks, that Kaunas “Žalgiris” team is not a favorite of tournament. What did such a  label gave to the team?

- There were all kinds of gossip, but at least I tried not to listen to them. I think the team didn't make any difference either. The kids went to all the matches as last and wanted to win.

- Have all the players on the team met the expectations of the coaches? Maybe something surprised you more than you expected?

- I think everyone has lived up to expectations. Perhaps a bit of a surprise to Kerr Kriisa, he really played as a team leader and hopefully the further he plays, the better he will be in the future. I am very happy for Louis Stormark. He played really well.

- Question for reflection. Foreign teams had lot of high and physically strong basketball players. Visually most looked really nicer than Lithuanians. Still the winners' cup in the hands of Kaunas Žalgiris? Where is the secret to success?

- Yeah, we weren't really different from others in centimeters or muscle, but basketball is a team game. That was our strength in both defense and offense. Of course, everything worked, because we had some really smart players who understand the systems easily. There was also a huge desire - the children were “on fire”, fighting for every centimeter of the court and for each other.

After celebrating the tournament victory in Kaunas, the guys will play in the final four tour on the 17th – 19th of May in Spain. In additional to “Žalgiris” team, teams that won the rounds in Valencia (Spain), Munich (Germany) and Belgrade (Serbia) will compete for the real championship title in final four tour.

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