2018-19 Team Profile: Rytas Vilnius

Aug 30, 2018 by Eurocupbasketball.com Print
2018-19 Team Profile: Rytas Vilnius

Rytas Vilnius comes off an important season in which the team lived up to the expectations, being competitive everywhere and giving young talents plenty of quality playing time. Rytas struggled early in the 7DAYS EuroCup Regular Season, losing three of its opening four games. Chris Kramer, who was the regular season assist leader, and Rokas Giedraitis stepped up for Rytas, which went on to win five of the next six games to qualify for the Top 16 second in its group with a 6-4 record. Two narrow losses – at home against Zenit St. Petersburg and on the road against Fiat Turin – to start the Top 16 doomed the team, which finished the phase with a 1-5 record. Rytas was also strong in domestic competitions; it reached the Lithuanian Cup title game and returned to the Lithuanian League finals after a two-year absence. Zalgiris Kaunas, in its strongest season this century, prevented Rytas from winning a domestic title this season. Zalgiris downed Rytas 81-62 in the Lithuanian Cup final and 4-1 in the best-of-seven Lithuanian League finals. Now, Rytas hopes to keep growing in its 11th EuroCup season.


2013-14 EuroLeague 1-9 Regular Season
2012-13 EuroLeague 2-8 Regular Season
2010-11 EuroLeague 7-9 Top 16
2009-10 EuroLeague 4-6 Regular Season
2007-08 EuroLeague 13-7 Top 16
2005-06 EuroLeague 11-9 Top 16
TOTAL: 38-48


2017-18 EuroCup 7-9 Top 16
2016-17 EuroCup 6-8 Top 16
2015-16 EuroCup 2-8 Regular Season
2014-15 EuroCup 11-6-1 Eighthfinal
2013-14 EuroCup 5-3 Eighthfinal
2011-12 EuroCup 12-4 Semifinal
2008-09 EuroCup 10-5 Champion
2006-07 ULEB Cup 10-7 Final
2004-05 ULEB Cup 13-4 Champion
2003-04 ULEB Cup 11-3 Quarterfinal
TOTAL: 87-57-1


This season will be Rytas Vilnius's sixth straight in the EuroCup and 11th overall. During that time, the club has made a name for itself by winning the competition twice and getting to at least the semifinals on two other occasions. The club was founded in 1964 as Vilnius Statyba, with founder Antanas Paulauskas serving as head coach for more than a decade, leading the team towards prominence from the start. Statyba needed only two years to win second place in the Lithuanian championship and in 1967 earned promotion to the former USSR's second division. By 1971, still under Paulauskas, Statyba was making its debut in USSR basketball's top tier, where it would stay for good after 1974. From the start, the club built a reputation for developing talented Lithuanian players. In 1979, Statyba surprised many when – led by Jonas Kazlauskas, Rimas Girskis and Aligmantas Pavilionis – it won the third place in the Soviet championship. The team followed Sarunas Marciulionis to the sixth place in 1986. Following the country's independence in 1990, Rytas finished second in the first two Lithuanian League seasons. Statyba remained one of country's leading clubs until 1998, when it changed its name to Lietuvos Rytas and quickly earned a reputation as a hard-to-beat squad at any level. Rytas made history in 2000 when it won the Lithuanian League to break a decade of domination by Zalgiris Kaunas, and also reached Saporta Cup semifinals as well as the Northern Europe Basketball League (NEBL) final that season. After another domestic crown in 2002, Rytas made a successful ULEB Cup debut in the 2003-04 campaign by advancing to the quarterfinals. The club truly made the big time by lifting the EuroCup trophy in 2005 after beating Makedonikos in the championship game behind Tyrone Nesby, Simas Jasaitis and finals MVP Robertas Javtokas. The win earned Rytas a ticket to the 2005-06 EuroLeague, and in its debut, the team reached the Top 16 of Europe's marquee competition. Rytas also lifted the Baltic League and the Lithuanian League trophies that season. Rytas was back in the ULEB Cup Final in 2007, and though it lost to Real Madrid, earned its way back to the EuroLeague and successfully defended the Baltic League title. The team reached the EuroLeague Top 16 in the 2007-08 season, but on the home front lost three domestic finals, all against Zalgiris. Rytas bounced back with its best season ever and lifted five trophies in 2008-09. Chuck Eidson was the 2008-09 EuroCup MVP and Marijonas Petravicius earned Final Eight MVP honors as Rytas rallied past Khimki Moscow Region in unbelievable fashion to win its second continental trophy. Rytas added all four possible domestic titles for a true dream season. In 2009-10, Rytas won the double in Lithuania and returned to the EuroLeague Top 16 in 2010-11. A year later the club lost in the EuroCup semifinals to Valencia Basket. Over the last four years, Rytas has not advanced past the EuroCup eighthfinals and came up short of winning trophies, with the exception of its 2016 Lithuanian Cup victory over Zalgiris behind Antanas Kavaliauskas. After missing them for a couple of years, Rytas returned to the Lithuanian League finals last season and made the Lithuanian Cup title game. Once again Zalgiris stood in its way to success, but Rytas is back on track with a combination of young talent, dedicated management and diehard fans that could pay off well in the 2018-19 season.

Trophy Case

Eurocup: 2004-05, 2008-09
NEBL: 2002
Baltic League: 2006, 2007, 2009
Lithuanian National League: 1999-00, 2001-2, 2005-06, 2008-09, 2009-10
Lithuanian National Cup: 1998, 2009, 2010, 2016