Iz daleke Litvanije o Evroligi, karijeri i Večitima!

Imali smo tu čast da intervjuišemo video analitičara sa basketnews.com Augustasa Šuliauskasa, koji je jedan vrhunski poznavalac igre pod obručima. Sada već bivši košarkaš, govorio je o svojoj košarkaškoj karijeri, o upoznavanju sa kolegama, svom mišljenju o Evroligi i njenom formatu. Takođe, pohvalio se i Fantazi učinkom i ispričao nam ko mu je omiljeni igrač u Evroligi. Konačno, prokomentarisao je svoje interesovanje za Večite i potkrepio komentare o Partizanu.

Nakon dela na srpskom jeziku, nalazi se tekst na engleskom. After the interview in Serbian there is the english version for our foreign readers.

Možeš li nam reći nešto o svojoj karijeri u košarci?

Imam 28 godina, tako da se može reći da je moja karijera bila prilično kratka. Najveći uticaj imala je činjenica da nisam uspeo da dostignem najviši nivo, te sam odlučio da je bolje da se posvetim drugim stvarima. Najviše što sam postigao jeste prva liga Letonije, gde sam igrao za Jeglavu u sezoni 2015/2016. Imao sam tada prosek od sedam poena na provedenih 19 minuta na parketu. Ostatak karijere, najveći njen deo, sam nastupao u drugoj ligi Litvanije (NKL) i u nižim rangovima u Italiji. Prošle godine sam istovremeno radio za Basketnews i igrao u NKL. Imajući u vidu da smatram da je liga poluprofesionalnog tipa, mogao sam i da treniram uveče i uživam igrajući mečeve.

Najveći uspeh/ draga uspomena?

Rekao bih da je to bilo kada sam nosio dres reprezentacije na U18 evropskom prvenstvu 2013. godine. To je definitivno moja omiljena uspomena. Domantas Sabonis je tada bio moj saigrač, a na kraju smo bili na petom mestu. U četvrtfinalu nas je porazila Letonija Kristapsa Porzingisa. Takođe, oni su igrali kod kuće, tako da možete da zamislite tu atmosferu. Toga se rado sećam.

Jedan si od najkvalitetnijih košarkaških novinara. Kako si započeo i kako se razvijala tvoja novinarska karijera?

Nikad zapravo nisam planirao da budem na ovoj strani što se košarke tiče. Moj rad se bazira na analitici i zaista uživam u tome. Sve je započelo kada me je Donatas (Urbonas) pitao da li bih želeo da radim skenere utakmica Žalgirisa u Evroligi. Prihvatio sam i bilo je sve u svemu dobro. Onda, kada se dogodila pandemija COVID, imao sam više slobodnog vremena tokom leta i počeo sam da pravim video analize za svoj kanal. To je bio septembar 2020. Pregledi su se nizali, i malo po malo, u julu 2021. Jonas Miklovas je odlučio da započne projekat po imenu Basketnews.com. Bio sam jedan od ljudi koji su bili pozvani da se pridruže i proizvode sadržaj za njih.

Kako si upoznao Donatasa i ostatak ekipe, na poslu ili pre toga?

Uponzao sam Donatasa davne 2013. godine kada sam prvi put zaigrao profesionalno. Bilo je to za Trakai u drugoj ligi Litvanije. On je bio predstavnik za medije u tom klubu. Nismo odmah postali tako bliski prijatelji. Tek par godina kasnije kada sam igrao na drugom mestu, počeli smo češće da pričamo o košarci i to se nastavilo do dan danas. Sve ostale sam upoznao na poslu, pre godinu ili dve.

Gde vidiš prostor za napredak evropske košarke, i sa takmičarske strane kao i sa strane rukovodstva? Da li smatraš da Evroligi manjka transparentnosti?

Smatram da evropska košarka treba da radi na načinu na koji ‘prodajemo’ proizvod. Čini mi se da Evroliga ide u pravom smeru što se tiče marketinga u poslednjih par godina. Ali put je dug. Jedan od problema je i raspored, kao i format i plejof. Želeo bih da gledam serije sve do finala umesto Final 4 formata. Što se drugog dela pitanja tiče, želeo bih da klubovi daju sposobnost da se razgovara sa igračima bilo kad, kao što se radi u NBA. Neki i dalje gledaju na medije kao na prepreke, koji navodno čine da igrači igraju lošije 24 sata nakon razgovora sa njima. To je tako zastareli način razmišljanja.

Imajući u vidu da dosta spominješ srpske timove u podkastu (URBONUS podcast), želeli bismo da saznamo više o tvom interesovanju kada su u pitanju Partizan i Crvena zvezda.

Kako se mi na Basketnews-u trudimo da pokrijemo sve ekipe u Evroligi, ne samo Žalgiris, zanimaju me i srpski timovi. Tako se isto interesujem i za grčke, turske, španske i italijanske i tako dalje. Očigledno, veliki broj navijača čine lakšim da mi ova dva tima privuku pažnju. Utakmice su zaista drugačije kada igraju kod kuće, čak i ako samo gledate preko malih ekrana. Kada čujem kako oba tima pevaju svoje himne prosto se samo naježim.

Ko je tvoj omiljeni igrač u Evroligi trenutno?

Moj omiljeni igrač u Evroligi…hm. Bio je to zasigurno Vezenkov prošle godine. Njegovo kretanje od lopte je bio spektakularno. Ove godine, borba je između Pantera, Džejmsa i Kampaca. Obožavam da gledam veštinu postizanaj poena prve dvojice i pas igru Argentinca.

Kako stojiš u fantazi Evroligi? Koji su tvoji favoriti od igrača?

Prilično sam dobar u fantaziju. Tim mi vredi skoro 120 kredita posle 19. kola i nalazim se na 1347. mestu na generalnoj tabeli. To što imam Timana od prvog kola pomaže dosta, Džejms kao kapiten me je spasao u par navrata. Šengelija/Sedekerskis/Moneke skoro od starta. Dinos Mitoglu je imao velikog uticaja na moj tim.

I konačno, rekao si da će Partizan konačno da uspe da se trgne. Objasni nam zašto.

U početku, bilo je očigledno da Partizanu nedostaje zaštita obruča, skok, i sposobnost preuzimanja od strane visokih igrača. To je ključno u Evroligi, ako žeiš uspeh. Kaboklo rešava sve probleme. Zato smatram da bi sa njim Partizan izgledao mnogo bolje. To i jeste slučaj. Željkovi timovi takođe igraju bolje kako sezona odmiče zato što ispoštuju sve detalje koje on od njih i traži. Atmosfera kod kuće je paklena. Imajući u vidu sve ovo smatram da će Partizan biti u prve četiri ekipe na kraju regularne sezone. A kada imate prednost domaćeg terena, imate mnogo u Evroligi.

We had the honor to interview the video analyst from basketnews.com Augustas Šuliauskas, a great basketball enthusiast. Now an ex player, he spoke about his career in basketball, also as a journalist, meeting his colleagues, his opinion about Euroleague and its format. He also bragged about his Fantasy score and told us his favourite player in Euroleague. Finally he said why he is interested in the eternal rivals, and expanded his comments about Partizan.

Can you tell us something about your basketball career? How you started playing and how did it progress?

Im 28 right now. So I could say that my basketball career was pretty short. Mostly, it is due to the fact that I wasn’t able to reach super high-level so I decided it was better to invest my time in other areas. Top level I reached is Latvian 1st league, played for team Jelgava in 2015/16 season, averaged 7pts in 19 minutes per game. Otherwise, I spend the majority of the time in the 2nd league in Lithuania (NKL) and Italy’s lower-tier levels. I even played last year in NKL while working at Basketnews full-time. Since it’s semi-pro league in my opinion, I was able to practice in the evenings and have fun playing in games. Biggest achievements/memories? I’d say wearing national team jersey for U18 European Championship in 2013 is the best memory. Had Domantas Sabonis as my teammate as we finished 5th, losing to Kristaps Porzingis’ Latvia in the quarterfinals. They also played at home, so you can imagine the crowd. Fun times to remember.

You’re a highly regarded basketball journalist. Could you describe the start and the progress until you started working with Basketnews?

I never actually planned to be on this side of basketball. Most of my work is analytical and I’m loving that. It all started when Donatas asked if I’d be interested to write reviews about Zalgiris’ EuroLeague games. I agreed to try and it went pretty fine. Then, after COVID hit, I had more free time in the summer and started making video breakdowns for my own channel. This was September 2020. Views started growing, and long story short, on July 2021, Jonas Miklovas decided to launch Basketnews.com project and I was one of the people invited to join over and create content for them.

How did you meet Donatas and rest od the crew, on the job or before that?

I met Donatas way back in 2013 in the first professional team I played for. It was called Trakai in 2nd division in Lithuania. He was a press officer there. We didn’t become close friends immediately. Only a couple of years later when I was playing somewhere else, we started talking more often about basketball and we do until now. All the other guys I met on the job, just one or two years ago.

What room for improvement do you see in European basketball, both competiton wise as well as operative side of things? Do you feel like Euroleague lacks transparency?

My biggest room for improvement for European basketball is definitely how we are selling the product. I feel like EL is going in the right direction in the last year or two marketing wise. But long road is ahead. Scheduling is another pain point, as well as competition format and playoffs. Would love to see best-of series all the way to the final. Would love to see teams give the ability to talk to the players at any time, just like NBA does. Some of them are still treating media as obstacles, who are making players play worse 24 hours after talking to them. That’s such an outdated way of thinking.

Since you talk a lot about Serbian teams in your podcasts (URBONUS podcast), we would want to know more about your interest in Partizan and Crvena zvezda.

Since we at basketnews are trying to cover all EuroLeague teams, not only Žalgiris, I’m interested in Serbian teams, too, just like I’m interested in Greek, Turkish, Spanish, Italian teams and so on. Obviously, huge fan bases makes it easier for these two teams to attract my attention. The games just feel different when these two teams play at home, even if you watch on TV. Goosebumps seeing both fan bases sings their anthems right before the game.

Who is your favorite player in the Euroleague right now?

My favourite player in the EuroLeague – hm.. It was definitely Vezenkov last year. His off-ball movement was so spectacular. This year, it’s between Punter, James, and Campazzo. Enjoy watching the skill of scoring the first two and the passing of the Argentinian.

How are you doing in Fantasy Euroleague? What are your top picks?

I’m actually doing pretty good in EL Fantasy. Team is worth almost 120 credits after Round 19 and I’m 1347 in the general table. Having Thiemann from Round 1 helped a lot, James as a captain has saved me multiple times, Shengelia/Sedekerskis/Moneke from early on. Dinos Mitoglou also played a huge role in my fantasy team.

And finally, you said that Partizan would ‘figure it out’ eventually. Explain us why.

In the beginning, it was obvious Partizan missed rim protection, rebounding, and the ability to switch from the bigs. That’s crucial in EuroLeague, if you wanna be successful. Caboclo covers all the areas. That’s why I thought with him, Partizan would look much better. Željko teams also use to play much better in the 2nd part of the season because played start to get all the details he’s asking from them. The home court atmosphere is always lit. Combining these three things is why I think Partizan will end up in the top 4 in the regular season. And having home court advantage in the playoffs is huge in EL.

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