This is my third trip to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. I’ve blogged about it before and each time I come, I learn a bit more about this tiny country. Vilnius and the Lithuanians have a nice, cozy, vibe and I had a delightful visit. The photo above shows a still snowy March afternoon sunset of Vilnius. I took the photo while walking from the school to my hotel.
On this particular trip, the focus was basketball. The 3 million Lithuanians are obsessed with the sport so it was a perfect country to host a high school basketball championship. I blogged about the tournament on my Principal’s blog,
The games were held at the Sarunas Marciulionis Basketball Academy. Marciulionis was one of the first European players to star in the NBA in the late 1980’s. He is most famous for the 1992 Lithuanian Olympic Basketball Team and their affiliation with the Grateful Dead. We watched the powerful documentary, “The Other Dream Team” that portrayed the story of the forming of that team and the independence movement of Lithuania from the Soviet Union. I thought that basketball was a way for them to express their independence and “fight” against the far more powerful Soviet army. Their defeat of the former USSR team in the bronze medal game in those ’92 Barcelona Olympics, must have been an amazing experience for the players and citizens of Lithuania. To this day, basketball is an obsession for the country.
We watched hundreds of players of all ages play in the Marciulionis Academy during the three days we were there. All of the teams were super organized with uniforms, and precision and fast-paced basketball. I noticed the proto-type Lithuanian “big” is lean and long-limbed, with short-cropped hair and a pointy head. Most of them can really play the game! Below is a photo of one of Marciulionio’s teams playing against the other Lithuanian great, Arvydas Sabonis‘s team.
It was a great trip and I hope to come back and visit again!