After making it to the BKT EuroCup Playoffs in each of the last two seasons, 7Bet-Lietkabelis Panevezys starts a new era with a new head coach who knows the competition well. Roberts Stelmahers helped the then-called Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius lift its first EuroCup trophy in 2005, and also took that team to the 2007 Finals. Lietkabelis boats a returning core of local players and has added a few pieces to try to make the team even more competitive than before. Stelmahers has a lot of character and a high basketball IQ, which is a good start to make sure Lietkabelis fights in every game.
2023-24 Roster Rundown: 7Bet-Lietkabelis Panevezys
Playmaker Jon Davis is Lietkabelis's marquee backcourt addition. He is an electric player with good penetration skills and court vision, which is ideal for his role as the team's floor general. Davis can use his quickness to attack the rim and draw many fouls, too. His short experience in Lithuania (13 games last season) should help him adjust quickly. Dovis Bickauskis and combo guard Nikas Stuknys should be Davis's backups, giving Coach Stelmahers good options at the point guard spot. Bickauskis is a well-rounded player, perfect to play a key role off the bench.
Martynas Varnas and Liutaras Lelevicius should split minutes at shooting guard. Varnas is a scorer with deep shooting range who comes off a strong season with Lithuanian side BC Siauliai, where he averaged a career-high 13.8 points on 41.2% three-point shooting in 25 games. Considered one of the best young guards in Europe, Lelevicius is an interesting signing due to his great upside. He proved his value at the 2023 U20 European Championship by leading the Lithuanian offense with 17.8 points per night. Testing his scoring skills at a higher level will be the next challenge for him.
Vytenis Lipkevicius is back for a sixth consecutive season to do a little bit of everything on the floor: rebound, play defense, make three-pointers, play with high intensity and show off his court sense. He has a great feel for steals and rarely makes mistakes. Deividas Sirvydis has developed his game overseas over the last three years. He is a tall swingman able to use his size, ballhandling ability and deep shooting range to find a lot of advantages on offense. At age 23, Sirvydis is a young veteran who could surprise fans and experts alike this season.
Gediminas Orelik is in his second stint with Lietkabelis and is expected to be the team's main frontcourt reference. Lietkabelis is deep at power forward, as it also signed Alen Hadzibegovic, an accomplished rebounder and shot blocker. Hadzibegovic is a versatile player who can play alongside Orelik or stretch the floor as a center. Nikola Popovic joined Lietkabelis midway through last season and showed what he is capable of, thrilling fans with his post skills and overall effectiveness. Hadzibegovic and Popovic should see playing time at center along with Gabrelius Maldunas, an old school big man with good post skills, highlighted by a jump hook.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Lietkabelis relies on Orelik to make the difference on offense. He is a stretch power forward with unlimited shooting range, able to knock down three-pointers one after another in a good day. He has an off-the-charts basketball IQ which he uses to make up for his lack of athleticism, by reading defenders and finding advantages, as Orelik is equally effective around the basket. Above all, Orelik is never afraid to take important shots and is a reliable clutch player. He rebounds really well at both ends, especially on the defensive end. Right at the prime of his career, Orelik should be on all EuroCup coaches' game plan when they face his team.
Lietkabelis finished fifth in its group two years ago and was fourth last season, earning the home-court advantage in the eighthfinals. The team did not go past this stage, losing against Virtus Segafredo Bologna in 2022 and Paris Basketball in 2023. Taking one game at a time has worked well for Lietkabelis in the past and this is what Coach Stelmahers's team should do this season. It has to battle hard to advance in a tougher regular season, as only six teams advance. But Lietkabelis can use its playoff experience to try to go further than ever.