2001 Spring Issue






2001 Spring Issue


The information which follows is part of a Special Report for Alan Lambert and The Basketball Highway.


The player information that is contained in this article is only a "snap shot" of the player's skills.  Full player evaluations, player ratings and contact information are provided exclusively to ISS subscribers.


Spring Issue

June, 2001


For a basketball junkie, Lithuania is perhaps the best spot on the planet to satisfy your "jones". The basketball scene is fast-paced and non-stop.  Estimates are that 90% of all adult Lithuanian males regularly play the game of basketball.  Lithuanian basketball fans avidly follow their countrymen when they are playing overseas.  The Sydney Olympics and the three a.m. start time for an Olympic final against the U.S. was not a problem for the average Lithuanian sports fan.  In contrast, most Lithuanian players competing at the collegiate level in the states are considered to be in some type of self-imposed basketball exile.

In a typical club setting, formal instruction begins at the age of seven and continues for the next 10 consecutive years.  Training sessions are usually scheduled for three afternoons or evenings each week.  Throughout Lithuania, players belong to various clubs.  Some of these developmental clubs have strong ties to the first division clubs and funnel their best and brightest directly into the professional ranks.  Each year there are local, regional and national championships in each age group. 

As expected, Lithuania's largest cities have the most affluent club settings.  The Sarunas Marciulionis Basketball School in Vilnius is perhaps the most well known of the developmental clubs.  Pushing hard and fast for premier status is the Arvydas Sabonis school in Kaunas, which has recently opened a satellite training center in the capital.  Each of these clubs show the entrepreneurial spirit of the Lithuanian personality. 

The Marciulionis school is located on an unassuming site which also houses the magnificent Sarunas Hotel.  The Sarunas is known as one of the finest overnight accommodations available in Vilnius.  Inside the training facility, three full-sized NBA courts lie side by side under one roof.  Each of these courts see plenty of training action during the week with some 750 boys enrolled in the various age group training programs.  The Marciulionis Basketball School believes in a holistic approach to player development.  Every boy enrolled in the Marciulionis school takes classes in the English language and computer science.  Formal classes on character development and social etiquette are also a part of the supplemental curriculum.  International travel is also one of the basic tenets of the Marcilionis approach.  Teams from the school have traveled to 25 countries since it's formation in 1992.  The lobby of the Marciulionis school houses one of the most interesting collection of basketball shoes ever assembled. Many great NBA stars (Jordan, Barkley, Drexler, etc.) have donated pairs of the signed shoes for this one-of-a-kind exhibit.

The Arvydas Sabonis Basketball School is a part of the larger Sabonio Klubas fitness & training facility.  The Sabonio School is located in Lithuania's 2nd city, Kaunas.  The Sabonio facility is state of the art in every respect.  It includes an NBA regulation court, a "Hard Rock" style restaurant, ultra-modern Universal weight lifting equipment, an aerobic room, sauna, whirlpools, a banquet hall and in-house day care for members.  All of the amenities at the Sabonio club are top notch and the prices reflect the clientele that is served.  Basketball facilities around the city of Kaunas are utilized for each of the daily age-group training sessions. 

Direct interaction with the players will typically produce positive reaction to the prospect of attending college in the states.  In sharp contrast, when coaches or club officials moderate interaction, the rate of positive responses drops to less than 20% of available players. 

The English language is widely understood (but not freely spoken) by the young people of Lithuania.  Anyone over the age of 30 would have been educated in the Soviet system and would typically speak Lithuanian and Russian exclusively.  Outwardly, the Lithuanian people are closed to foreigners, but warm and friendly once the initial chill has been removed. 

Economic reforms as a result of independence have produced mixed results.  The general business climate does not encourage foreign investment.  Foreign ownership of Lithuanian real property is currently not allowed by law.  Vast tracts of farm land which once supplied all of the Soviet Union with potato's and corn now lie dormant.  Subsistence farming with horse-drawn plows and wagons are common sites outside the cities.  Lithuania has a highly educated work force with limited opportunities to effectively utilize their professional skills.  Vast pine forests extend for miles in unbroken stands of virgin timber throughout the interior.  Resorts along the Curonian Spit on the Baltic Sea are a scenic and beautiful mix of towering sand dunes, wide, sandy beaches and the dizzying aroma of millions of planted pines.  Perhaps the northern coast of California is not the best comparison, but it shares more geographical similarities than any other American coastline. 

A part of the unique flavor of Lithuania is evidenced by the fact that it’s current president once worked for U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA).  President Valdas Adamkus, together with his family, immigrated to the United States in 1949.  His professional career in the states is punctuated by several highlights.  He was named as the head of the environmental research center and was later appointed as Deputy Administrator in the U.S. EPA Region 5,  (Great Lakes Region).  He was later promoted to Administrator at the same institution and held that office until June 1997.

Travel or relocation to the states seems to be on the minds of many Lithuanians and visas are issued sparingly by the U.S. embassy in Vilnius.  The largest U.S. population of Lithuanian transplants is located in Chicago and it seems that everyone has at least one friend or relative living in the windy city.

Upcoming Tournaments

*Australian U18 Championships – Canberra, ACT.  July 7 – 14.

*6th European Championship for Young Men – Qualifying Round. 

Greece, Sweden, Ukraine, Hungary and Bulgaria.  July 7-15.

6th European Championship for Young Men Qualifying Round, Group D  Boras , SWE 

6th European Championship for Young Men Qualifying Round, Group B  Ialissos , GRE 

6th European Championship for Young Men Qualifying Round, Group E  Mykolayiv , UKR 

6th European Championship for Young Men Qualifying Round, Group A  Razgrad , BUL 

6th European Championship for Young Men Qualifying Round, Group C  Szekesfehervar , HUN 

*European U16 (Cadet) Championships – Riga, Latvia.  July 13-22.

*20th European Championship for Junior Men Qualifying Round

Estonia, Bulgaria, Spain and Hungary.  August 8-12.

*3rd World Championship for Young Men – Japan.  August 3-12.

*Caricom Games (U19?) – Nassau, Bahamas.  Late July - Early August.

*20th European Championship for Junior Men Qualifying Round

20th European Championship for Junior Men Qualifying Round, Group D  

Seixal , Portugal.  8.1 – 8.5

20th European Championship for Junior Men Qualifying Round, Group A  Jambol , BUL 

20th European Championship for Junior Men Qualifying Round, Group E  Leon , ESP 

20th European Championship for Junior Men Qualifying Round, Group B  Viljandi , EST 

20th European Championship for Junior Men Qualifying Round, Group C  Sopron , HUN 


*3rd World Championship for Young Men  Saitama , Japan.  8.3 – 8.13

*16th Oceania Championship for Men Wellington, NZ.  21.9.2001 -23.9.2001.

Perimeter Players

Karolis Marcihkevicius.  6-2, 176.  17.  PG.  Lithuania.

Karolis played for the U18 National Championship with the club from Alytus.  On their way to winning the championship, they pushed aside the traditional powers of the Sabonis and Marcilionis clubs.  He strokes the stop and pop jumper like there’s no tomorrow.  He has excellent ball handling skills and quickness. 

Keith Dolby.  5-8, 150.  20.  PG.  England.

Has taken the SAT and has a score of 1080.  Began his playing career at the Ilkeston school and moved from there into the U15 developmental squad of the Derby Bucks in the 1st division. Co-captain and starting PG for the National Basketball Academy U20 squad. He’s a heady player on the court and shows an excellent understanding of the game.

Anderson Nyantika Bonuke.  6-4, 206.  24.  PG-2G.  Kenya.

1st selected for the Team Kenya trials in 1998 and is currently playing for the Nairobi Select squad.  Played in the 1998 African Club Championships. He has good range on the jumper and can stroke the international trey.  Uses his strength to his advantage on the boards and is a real force on the defensive end. 

Rick Shaw.  6-0, 170.  19.  PG-2G.  Canada.

Currently completing his career at Medicine Hat Community College in Canada.  Proved to be one of the most productive players on the Medicine Hat squad earning Player of the Game honors 5 separate times.  Reports indicate that he is an excellent ball handler who has great one on one skills. 

Calix Black Ndiaye.  6-3, 190.  19.  PG-2G.  Norway.

Calix is one of the youngest member of the Men’s National team.  Named to Norwegian All-Star team in 2000.  He is a fundamentally sound player who shoots the ball well from the perimeter, has solid ball handling skills and has an intuitive knowledge of the game.

Dan Riches.  6-4, 190.  20.  2G-SF.  Australia.

Selected as a junior All-State representative in basketball-mad Victoria.  Of course, Victoria is known as the “Indiana of Australia” when it comes to basketball.  Trained during 2000 with the 1st division Melbourne Tigers and Victoria Titans. He can knock down the jumper off the dribble or from behind the three-point line. He is not afraid to help out on the boards.

Liam Santamaria.  6-0, 175.  20.  PG.  Australia.

Currently averaging  17 points, 7.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds in the ABA.  He is a member of the NBL Melbourne Tigers 2001 development squad.  He is a natural leader on the court.  He sees the floor well and can distribute the ball to his open team mates.  A legitimate threat to score any time the ball is in his hands.

Matthew Gill.  6-5, 185.  21.  2G-SF.  England.

Currently training with both the Toxeth Tigers and the 1st Division Sheffield Sharks.  He has two years of eligibility remaining.  He has a solid perimeter game and is very consistent from the three point line. 

Alek Arsenic.  6-6, 200.  18.  SF.  Canada.

He has just completed his first year at the University of Regina.  He will be a transfer after averaging 10 ppg in 18 minutes of playing time as a freshman.  He was the Greater Plains Athletic conference Rookie of the Year.  He has good ball handling skills and is very effective off the dribble penetration.

Attila Kun.  6-1, 170.  20.  PG.  Hungary.

Known as one of the quickest one on one players in Hungary.  He has good ball handling and passing skills.  He is an exceptional athlete and is no stranger to the All-Star game dunk contests.

Yaw Owusu.  5-10, 150.  17.  PG-2G.  England.

He was the MVP of the 2000 U18 National Championship for Coach Henry Mooney and the Toxeth Tigers.  He is an outstanding athlete.  He has a great attitude on the court and is blessed with natural ability. 

Adrian Ohiorenoya.  6-7, 196.  17.  SF.  England.

Currently training with the Toxeth Tiger program in Liverpool.  Adrian is a young man who has only just turned 17.  He appears to still be growing and will continue to mature physically.  He is a good student and could attend a year or more of high school in the states.

Aaron Rey.  6-0, 150.  18.  PG-2G.  England.

Aaron was a member of the 2000 U18 National Championship Toxeth Tiger squad.  Has an exceptionally quick first step and is a tenacious defender.  He scores consistently with the perimeter jumper.  He is very strong on the dribble penetration to the basket and can score with either hand.

Post Players

Donatas Rackauskas.  6-10, 225.  17.  C.  Lithuania.

Has just recently been invited to begin training with the National team.  Donatas played for the U18 National Championship with the club from Alytus.  On their way to winning the championship, they pushed aside the traditional powers of the Sabonis and Marcilionis clubs. He is very patient and effective as a shot blocker.  He has very soft hands, a nice touch and can nail the jumper out to about 17 feet.

Mindaugas Katelynas.  6-9, 195.  17.  SF-PF.  Lithuania.

Mindaugas played for the U18 National Championship with the club from Alytus.  On their way to winning the championship, they pushed aside the traditional powers of the Sabonis and Marcilionis clubs.  Mindaugas is an excellent athlete.  He doesn’t just jump well, he has “hang time”.  He has long arms and is very active on the boards at both ends.  He has a quick first step and decent ball handling skills for his position. 

Rytis Adomavicius.  6-7, 200.  17.  PF.  Lithuania.

Rytis is a member of the 2001 U18 National Championship team from Alytus.  He is currently a high school junior.  He’s a big strong, solid young post.  He is very athletic and showed some exciting moves in the paint. 

Erikas Kurminovic.  6-8, 210.  16.  C.  Lithuania.

Erikas plays on the Vilnius Basketball Club’s development squads for players in the 10th and 11th grade.  He has long arms and is already a very active as a shot blocker.  He is active on the boards at both ends of the court.  He can hit the jumper out to 17 feet with good accuracy.

Alfred Griskov.  6-7, 226.  16.  PF-C.  Lithuania.

Alfred plays on the Vilnius Basketball Club’s development squads for players who are mostly in the 10th grade.  He is a big, strong raw-boned kid.  He has extremely powerful legs to have just turned 16 in April.  Has a good fundamental knowledge of post moves and does an excellent job of maintaining position inside.

Jonas Langvad.  6-9, 200.  17.  SF-PF-C.  Denmark.

Jonas is currently completing his sophomore year of high school.  He was named MVP of 1999 Scania Cup ( Northern European Championship) and also named MVP of the Danish National Cup Finals in 2000.  He is a very mobile post player who can score anywhere inside the three-point line.

Thorsten Goetterup.  6-9, 190.  18.  PF-C.  Denmark.

Thorsten is currently completing his sophomore year of high school.  He was named to the U18 National team in 2000.  He is a defensive demon in the paint who can also score down low or anywhere inside 16 feet.

Mark Woodhouse.  6-9, 225.  18.  PF-C.  England.

Mark averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks per game for Coach Jimmy Smith’s Notts Nova program in 2000-2001.  Mark in known as an inside scorer.  He has good quickness and gets off the floor well.

Emmanuel Agalamaryi.  6-5, 225.  17.  2G-SF-PF.  England.

Played on the 2000 U18 National Championship Toxeth Tiger squad.  He is gifted athlete who has enormous physical strength and is ferocious at both ends of the court.  He is still growing and young enough to attend a year of high school in the states.

Robert Friday Cameron.  6-7, 217.  20.  SF-PF.  England / Zimbabwe.

Robert is a member of the U20 National team of Zimbabwe.  Currently living and training in England with the Toxeth Tiger program.  A developing post player who is very strong physically.  His is athletic and has a good perimeter game to compliment his post skills.