There are special personalities in the world of sports, people with charisma, with strength, capable of involving anyone in a common project and transmitting unique feelings. It is the case of Sarunas Jasikevicius, Lithuanian basketball legend and benchmark in Europe first as a player and, recently, as a coach. He led some of the best European teams from his base position, displaying a unique balance between intelligence and claw, which he has managed to transfer to the bench. His signing with the FC Barcelona It involves the return of the prodigal son, reconciliation with a team that gave him everything and with whom he did not understand himself in recent times.
And it is that the Catalan club opted for Jasikevicius when he was just a promising young man and with Svetislac Pesic on the bench. He landed in Spain at the age of 24, after having competed with Lietuvos Rytas and Union Olimpija. There were already many eyes on him, but the Catalan club knew how to move well and recruited a player who was more than that. His winning hunger thrilled at the Palau and in his third year there, he was proclaimed Euroleague champion and MVP of the competition. Shared court with Pau Gasol in the hatching of the Sant Boi, offering a show rarely seen between base and center in Europe, which perhaps could be resumed this season, with one on the bench and another on the court.
He militated in many other mythical teams, such as Maccabi Tel Aviv and Panathinaikos, in which he was also a Euroleague champion, or Fenerbahce and Lietuvos Rytas, but in his head he was always going back to what he considered his home. He did it in 2012/13, already far from his level, and he promised himself to resume his relationship with the Catalan club from another perspective. After a little prolific passage through the NBA, with Indiana PacersSarunas acquired a new vision of basketball that he has been able to apply in his career as a coach. Just a few months after retiring at Zalgiris Kaunas, the team from all over Lithuania signed on as an assistant.
Humility, daily work and ambition were the aspects that led him to assume the reins of the team in 2016, when he was in a deep sport and economic crisis. In four seasons, he has demonstrated his rationality as an economic manager, ability to get talents out of the quarry and a good eye for detecting young talents that he can incorporate at a low price and that have increased in value under his tutelage. Qualified for Euroleague playoffs in 2016/17, 2017/18 to a team whose budget was one of the lowest in the entire competition, reconnected all the fans and was competitive even when the team was depleted after each season.
Kevin Pangos or Brandon Davies They lived their best moments under his tutelage and now he will meet them in Barcelona. Both will have to explain to their peers what a man who inspires respect and demands discipline is like. In a set full of stars such as FC Barcelona, there is nothing better than a legend who considers daily work and generosity in effort non-negotiable, and who has no qualms about setting great stars if they are not giving their best. Obsessed with defense as an element that allows running and finding open positions, Jasikevicius ensures a vibrant basketball whose show is only the consequence of lowering the ass in the own basket.
Protest as the most with the refereesHe knows that his winning aura gives him more licenses than others. The Blaugrana team’s directive will have to step aside and give full powers to a man who gave up coaching the team two seasons ago because he had no guarantees of this and did not like the culé directive. « Weird things happen in that club, I don’t understand who makes the decisions. They have talked to me, but not everyone was convinced of my signing, » he said in words collected by Gigantes.
On this occasion, all the circumstances have been given to once again enjoy a unique personality such as his own. He considers his players as family, and as such he treats them. Alternating affection and recognition with fights that only mutual trust can bear. It will take patience from the direction and generosity on the part of the players, who must put aside their ego and be willing to change things in their routines for the common good. It will be Saras’ biggest challenge; transferring his management from a humble team to a plethora of stars. Sarunas Jasikevicius returns as the prodigal son called to wake up FC Barcelona.