On Friday, Kazys Maksvytis, at the helm of the Lithuanian national basketball team, shared insights into his plans, upcoming responsibilities, and shed light on his relationship with Giedrius Žibėnas during an official press conference. This comes after Maksvytis was officially entrusted with coaching the national team during the designated “windows” on December 11. However, the dynamics shifted following his departure from Žalgiris, the Lithuanian professional basketball club.
Maksvytis began by acknowledging the unique situation where Giedrius Žibėnas, who was involved in both club and national team responsibilities, would have found himself stretched too thin. “The situation changed, and it would probably have been funny if Giedrius, working in both the club and the national team, had torn himself in two places, and the head coach would have observed everything from the sidelines,” remarked Maksvytis. He emphasized that, with the newfound free time, he intends to dedicate himself to the national team’s selection process, the Olympic selection, as well as engaging in calls, meetings with players, and his personal preparation. This decision, Maksvytis believes, will ultimately benefit the national team.
While the Lithuanian strategist is set to return to guide the national team during the European Championship qualification starting in the summer, he is currently preparing for an internship in the USA. Maksvytis touched upon these future plans during the press conference, addressing various aspects of the national team’s affairs.
One significant topic discussed was Maksvytis’s stance on potentially coaching both a club and the national team simultaneously. He expressed his inclination to focus solely on the national team for the remaining part of the current season. However, he hinted at the possibility of different plans in the upcoming season, post-Olympics, and emphasized the need to make decisions after the current season concludes.
When asked about his relationship with Giedrius Žibėnas, Maksvytis spoke positively about their history, highlighting a long-standing connection dating back to their days working in youth basketball. He expressed respect for Žibėnas’s journey in the basketball world and hinted that their paths might cross again in the future. However, he refrained from making definitive statements about Žibėnas’s potential role in the national team.
Maksvytis discussed his upcoming trip to the USA, where he plans to meet with key national team candidates. He outlined the main objectives of the trip, including discussions with players and personal improvement. Additionally, he expressed the hope of having face-to-face conversations with the national team leaders during this visit.
The article touched upon the potential participation of EuroLeague players in the national team, the criteria for selecting players during the summer “window,” and Maksvytis’s acknowledgment of the progress of players like Deividas Sirvydis. The coach also discussed his observations of Žalgiris games, expressing congratulations on their successes.
Maksvytis provided insights into his mindset, emphasizing the importance of rest, personal improvement, and the need for players to balance workload and recovery. The article highlighted Maksvytis’s dedication to strengthening the national team and his commitment to navigating the complexities of coaching both at the national and club levels.
- Is there a possibility that you will go to a club, and you will have to coordinate two jobs again?
- For the remaining part of this season, I am inclined to focus only on the national team. From the new season, after the qualification window, perhaps after the Olympics, there may be different plans, but this half-year I will work only in one job – with the national team.
- After the Olympics, your contract with the federation will expire. Would you like to stay at the coaching helm, coordinate work with the club, or prepare for something else?
- There are still many variables. There is the qualification, then possibly the Olympics, and then the federation elections, possibly the selection of a new coach. It’s too early to think about it.
- Have you already talked to the key national team players about the European Championship qualification?
- Those conversations have started; the whole situation is fresh. A couple of weeks ago, it was different. I started communicating with the players. As far as I know, the first opponent, the Polish national team, is preparing to gather a quite strong lineup; even a few EuroLeague players promise to participate. We also hope that probably not everyone, but some of our EuroLeague players will participate.
- After leaving Žalgiris, did you talk to fellow coaches, and did you receive their support?
- With coaches, relationships are always good, collegial. Who else to talk to if not with your colleagues? In club basketball, coaches become very vulnerable, the first target that teams change. Of course, we maintain contact, understand our situation, and help each other.
- You will travel to the USA to meet with the main national team candidates. What will be the main highlights of the trip, and will you catch up with Mārtiņš Buzelis?
- The situation is such that there is free time, and I will dedicate it to both my improvement, national team affairs, communication with players. I hope to have a face-to-face conversation with the national team leaders.
As for Mārtiņš Buzelis – of course. For now, we plan our trip to the USA, and if there is an opportunity, I would definitely like to see him and chat.
- Will priority be given to players who agree to help the national team during the “window” when it comes to the summer?
- I don’t think so. If someone like Eimantas Bendžius cannot help during the windows due to injury, it doesn’t mean that doors will be closed during the summer.
- What about Žalgiris players?
- Here, players have more choice. The club cannot prohibit according to all the rules; it is a player’s decision. We will need to talk to the players. I don’t think it will be binding.
- Have you already rested after all the events at Žalgiris, and how much was that rest necessary?
- I rested, will rest a bit more, recharge, improve. I will return with new strength, stronger. Like everyone, I needed rest. When there is a lack of rest, the quality suffers.
- Did you manage to somewhat clarify why the season at Žalgiris was not very successful?
- I wouldn’t want to talk about it. I don’t think it was very unsuccessful.
- What is your relationship with Žibėnas, and could you see him in the national team as your successor?
- Anything can happen, maybe from the next cycle. We have an old connection; both of us went a similar path. We have known each other since the times when we worked in youth basketball. I worked at the Kaunas Basketball School, Giedrius at the “Tornado” Basketball School, also in Kaunas. We have known each other for a long time, and in recent years, we have become colleagues. He has gone a long, difficult path and carved out a place under the sun. I think this is definitely not the end of the road for Giedrius.
- Do you plan to attend tomorrow’s derby, and will you buy tickets?
- I won’t visit tomorrow unless Giedrius invites me for free (laughs). Of course, now I will devote more time to local league games, especially those where national team candidates play. And I will watch tomorrow’s match on television.
- Do you also watch Žalgiris games?
- I watch; they play well and win. Congratulations.
- Do many new faces emerge on the list of national team candidates?
- First of all, we need to form the core of the national team. But it was fun last year to watch a more innovative project, a reserve team, with many young and talented players; they played beautifully. There will be a mix of veterans and youth. As far as I know, the Federation plans to do something similar this year. If there is a player or coach who could strengthen the national team, we will definitely invite them.
- Do you plan any trials with Kasparas Jakubčionis?
- Kasparas, it seems, is still a member of the U-20 national team, but, of course, at least in the reserve team, we would like to try him.
- Deividas Sirvydis was part of that reserve team, and now he is the top scorer in the EuroCup. Are you happy with his progress, and is there any player from the reserve team who could make a similar step forward?
- I don’t know if I could name one name now, but last year it was fun to watch both Deividas, Jogėlas, and Marčiulionis, Tubelis. He is currently pleasantly surprising, I didn’t think he would return and play so successfully in men’s basketball right away. He just trusts himself, dominates, I hope he will not give up and will continue to move confidently forward.
- Are there chances that we will see EuroLeague players in the “window”?
- Theoretically, there are, because this year the EuroLeague schedule does not overlap with the national teams, which was a problem before. Now, according to the agreement between the EuroLeague and FIBA, there is a window left, and theoretically, teams should release players, and if they are healthy, they will come to play for the national team.
- Last year, Edgaras Ulanovas’ refusal caused a huge reaction. How are his moods this year?
- I haven’t talked about this year’s national team yet, and last year he had his opinion that he wanted to rest. The season, like mine, was long for him. 106 games are a lot. The season is long, and the workload is significant, so I somewhat understand the players.
- What did he say this year?
- He hasn’t said anything this year yet.
- Remembering that workload, would you plan to coach both the team and the national team at the same time in the future?
- No, I don’t plan to. If someone asked me, for example, Giedrius, I would advise him to have one path – either the national team or the club. But, of course, I went that way myself and can say that sometimes it is difficult or even impossible to do two jobs qualitatively.
- Is it financially challenging to be only the national team coach?
- This season will end, and we will see. Everyone is free to choose a club or a national team, where the financial reward is lower, but there is more time. This will need to be decided after the season.
- Although you said that this season you will only coach the national team, have you not received calls from clubs?
- No, not yet. I can admit it boldly. Neither from “Rytas” nor from the “wolves” (laughs).