Turkish Airlines Euroleague
March 07, 2014
Team Focus 2010-11: BC Siauliai
September 22, 2010
With a mix of youth and experience, homegrown talents and recruits, and perimeter players and big men, plus coaching giant Antanas Sireika on the sidelines, BC Siauliai is out to turn some heads in the Eurocup this season. Although the names on their shirts may not be household names, Siauliai is eager to prove itself as a rising power and coach Sireika promises to make the most of the talent on the squad. The ball will often be in the hands of rookie point guards Ricky Harris and Edgaras Stanionis, who are both stepping up a level and ready to show their scoring talents to new audiences. Alongside them, ace shooter Darius Gvezdauskas looks for a breakout year from the shooting guard position, where he will be backed up by another rookie Edvinas Ruzgas. Experience comes to play on the wing with former Euroleague champ Mindaugas Zukauskas, the former Euroleague champ who still has his feel for the game and excellent shooting touch even at age 35. Bulgarian national team forward Martin Durchev will look to learn from Zukauskas as his backup. In the paint, Vytautas Sarakauskas will be a leading figure after impressing many with his performances in the preseason. At 2.21 meters, Roman Gumenyuk could change many games as a shot-blocker. Talented teenager Osvaldas Matulionis, Julius Jucikas and the seasoned Rimas Varanauskas will share minutes at power forward. At a club that has produced so many stars, it is impossible to tell which of the elite prospect that will suit up for Sireika will be the next big name. However, which we watch, all of them will be steadily improving under their coach’s watchful eye and trying hard to lift Siauliai to new heights at home and in the Eurocup.
In its relatively short history, Siauliai has without a doubt become the third team in Lithuania behind powerhouses Zalgiris and Lietuvos Rytas. Founded in 1994, it has already been the launching pad of future stars Mindaugas Zukauskas, Donatas Slanina, Robertas Javtokas and Andrius Slezas as well as coaches Antanas Sireika and Robertas Giedraitis. Moreover, it has become a force to reckoned with at home, in the Baltic and in Europe every year. The team found instant success in the Lithuanian League, finishing fourth in 1995, 1997 and 1999. Siauliai made its European competitions debut in the 1996 Korac Cup, reached the Korac Cup first elimination rounds in 1998 and the eighthfinals the following season. The club reached new heights in 2000, when it finished third in the Lithuanian League behind only L. Rytas and Zalgiris. In fact, Siauliai has reached the Lithuanian League semifinals every year since 1999 and has ranked third for most of the past decade. In 2000, Siauliai and its all-Lithuanian lineup led by Giedrius Peciulionis and Vaidas Pauliukenas reached the Korac Cup elimination rounds. Arturas Jomantas, Zydrunas Urbonas and Darius Pakamanis helped Siauliai to reach high in the 2005 FIBA EuroCup Challenge, finishing third in Conference North. Siauliai also found success in the Baltic League, placing third in 2005, 2006 and again last season. Siauliai missed out on a spot in the 2008 ULEB Cup elimination rounds due to its tiebreak disadvantage against Alba Berlin and Bosna, but did host the Baltic League and Lithuanian Cup final fours. Last season, behind the high-scoring duo of Arvydas Siksnius and Derrick Low, Siauliai again matched its regular results: A spot in the Eurocup regular season, third place in the Baltic League and third place in the Lithuanian League. This season Siauliai is reloaded and eager to prove it is as tough as ever, hoping to go one step higher and finally reach the Eurocup Last 16.