|07 May 2013|
|Jonas Valanciunaswill be part of the Lithuanian team this summer, announced Jonas Kazlauskas on Tuesday.|
The Lithuanian national team head coach, Jonas Kazlauskas, confirmed on Tuesday that Jonas Valanciunas will be on his 12-man squad that will travel to Slovenia for EuroBasket 2013.
Speaking at a press conference in the capital Vilnius, Kazlauskas explained that the 21-year-old center will miss the start of preparations, on 15 July, but will join the national team's training camp at a later stage.
Valanciunas, who just completed his rookie NBA season with the Toronto Raptors, will play in the NBA's summer league in July.
"The delay will not be so long that we should start to panic," Kazlauskas commented.
The coach also revealed that the outlook for shooting guard Martynas Pocius, who underwent surgery for a stress fracture in his right ankle in March, is optimistic.
The 26-year-old Pocius should be able to join preparations at an early stage, if not already in mid-July.
Kazlaukas however admitted he is doubtful whether the rehabilitation of Zalgiris Kaunas captain Paulius Jankunas will also conclude in time.
"[The esitimate is] that Pocius will manage to make it while with Jankunas there are more uncertainties," he said.
"It will depend on the players themselves and the medical stuff."
Another pending issue for Lithuania is the state of health of star player Linas Kleiza but Kazlauskas hinted that the Toronto Raptors forward will be on the team.
"At the time that I visited Toronto and we spoke there was no problem," the coach said.
"[Kleiza] has still not returned to Lithuania but I do not think anything has changed in the meantime."
The charismatic forward only played in 20 games with the Toronto Raptors this season, with his last appearance coming on 28 December.
Kazlauskas explained that he is working with a preliminary list of 18 players, which he did not however reveal, as long as there are still health-related doubts.
The coach also confirmed that there are veteran players who have expressed their wish to not report for national duty this summer, without naming them.
In an interview with fibaeurope.com in March, Rimantas Kaukenas had stated that he was considering taking a rest this summer and that it was maybe time for the national team to introduce more young players.
Following almost 20 days of training camp on home soil, Lithuania will play two back-to-back warm-up games against Belgium on 5 and 6 August and then against Sweden, on 12 and 14 August.
Lithuania will then face F.Y.R. Of Macedonia, who are also their opponents in the First Round of the EuroBasket, in Skopje, before returning home to play host to Russia, Finland, Italy and the Czech Republic.
The Baltic nation's team will then participate in a tournament in Athens where they will measure forces against another of their First Round opponents, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as against hosts Greece and Italy.
They will conclude their friendly games with an encounter in Vilnius against Georgia on 1 September, three days before the EuroBasket tips off.
Lithuania were drawn in Group B in Slovenia, along with their neighbours Latvia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and F.Y.R. Of Macedonia.