Rimas and Juan check in: welcome BC Wolves!
BC Wolves Vilnius is the second club from Lithuania which will play in the European North Basketball league.
The Vilnius club will replace CBET Jonava in the Group B.
Group A: Budivelnyk Kyiv (Ukraine), Dunav (Serbia) separate announcement incoming in one hour, Kalev/Cramo (Estonia), Prishtina Sigal (Kosovo), Start Lublin (Poland), Šiauliai (Lithuania), TalTech Optibet (Estonia), Zastal Zielona Gora (Poland).
Group B: Basket Brno (Czechia), BM Stal Ostrow (Poland), Ironi Ness Ziona (Israel), King Szczecin (Poland), Tartu Ulikool (Estonia), Trefl Sopot (Poland), Valmiera Glass (Latvia), Wolves Vilnius (Lithuania).
The official schedule will be published in a few days – after finalizing the dates for the Final 4.
BC Wolves is a new club in the world of basketball, playing its first-ever season in 2022-2023.
The name Wolves refers to the Iron Wolf from the founding legend of the Vilnius city.
Once upon a time the Grand Duke of Lithuania Gediminas was hunting in the holy woods of the Valley of Šventaragis.
Tired after the successful day hunt the Grand Duke settled for night there.
He fell asleep soundly and had a dream.
A huge iron wolf was standing on top of a hill and the sound of hundreds of other wolves inside it filled all surrounding fields and woods.
Upon wakeup, the Duke asked the pagan priest Lizdeika to reveal the secret of the dream.
And he told: “What is destined for the ruler and the state of Lithuania, let it be: the iron wolf means a castle and a town which will be established by the ruler on this site. The town will be the capital of the Lithuanian lands and the dwelling of rulers the and glory of their deeds shall echo throughout the world”.
Kaunas is the capital of basketball, while Vilnius has emerged as its main competitor.
The great race started in 1997 when Lietuvos Rytas was founded on the base of its predecessor – Statyba Vilnius.
The new team won six Lithuanian league titles (2000, 2002, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2022) and two EuroCup titles (2005, 2009) during the next 25 years.
From now on, there will be two top level teams in Vilnius.
However, due to ongoing reconstruction of Vilnius Avia Solutions Group Arena – formerly Siemens arena, the Wolves play their home matches at Alytus arena.
BC Wolves long-term ambition is to compete in the strongest European basketball tournaments regularly, which, in return, would create value for both the country of Lithuania and its fanbase around the world.
Alytus was previously represented by local club Dzūkija.
Dzūkija reached the 2022 LKL playoffs.
They lost the quarterfinal series against Rytas 1-3, however, the lone win was their first victory over Vilnius club for the first time ever.
The head coach of the Wolves is Rimas Kurtinaitis.
A 1988 Olympic champion continued his playing career until the age of 46.
Kurtinaitis was a player-coach of Gala Baku 2002-2006 and also the head coach of Azerbaijan National team.
His first big successes were registered in 2009 when Kurtinaitis won EuroCup, LKL and Baltic league titles with Lietuvos Rytas.
After two seasons in Vilnius he moved up North to coach at VEF Rīga – a legendary club restarted in 2007 by EuroBasket 1981 MVP Valdis Valters.
Kurtinaitis didn`t stayed in Rīga as he got a big offer from Khimki Moscow region but VEF won the first three Latvian titles with Ramūnas Butautas at helm (2011, 2012, 2013).
Lithuanian coach added a VTB league title in 2011 and two more EuroCup titles (2012, 2015).
Kurtinaitis, however, couldn`t end the CSKA Moscow dominance in a domestic arena during his next seven seasons at Khimki (2011-2016 and 2019-2021).
He returned to Lietuvos rytas in 2017-2018 before his second spell at Khimki.
This year Kurtinaitis took the reins of the Wolves.
The Wolves lineup includes two Lithuania national team players – a 30 year old power forward Eigirdas Žukauskas and a 26 years old shooting guard Kristupas Žemaitis.
There are three more well known Lithuanian players – experienced guard Adas Juškevičius, a 1979 born forward Mindaugas Lukauskis and center Regimantas Miniotas.
Kurtinaitis added four foreigners – American guard Ahmad Caver, French forward Hugo Invernizzi, Argentinian center Marcos Delia and a 22 years old Filipino guard Juan Gomez de Liano.
The last signing made waves as the Phillipines are the Asian hotbed of basketball with large and dedicated fan base.
The Philippines capital Manila will host the playoffs of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
Liano is the first homegrown made player from the Philippines to join a European basketball club according to Randolph B. Leongson from spin.ph.
He made his debut on Wednesday, October 26.
Liano played six minutes and grabbed four rebounds as the Wolves defeated Labas Gas Prienai 95-70 at the Group A game of the King Mindaugas Cup.