By Eurohoops Team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
His father being active in multiple Olympic Games back in his playing days is another accomplishment Domantas Sabonis wishes to achieve for himself. Arvydas Sabonis’ legendary career is a tough example to follow for anyone. However, the 23-year-old big of the Indiana Pacers seemed determined ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games while discussing Lithuania’s path to Tokyo, FIBA relays.
“The link between my family and the Olympic Games is huge,” admits Sabonis referring to his father’s three Olympic medals, “My dad did compete in some of them, and won medals, so it’s something that is very important for the Sabonises, that’s for sure.”
Domantas averaged 5.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in the 2016 Olympic Games, aims to get to the 2020 Olympics as well. Lithuania will take part in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament as a host of one out of the four groups and top-seeded in the draw set to take place on November 27th.
“We’re all looking forward to it,” mentioned Sabonis, “It’s going to be a very intense tournament as every team dreams about competing in Tokyo 2020. It’s what we have to go through to qualify for the next Olympics, and we’re going to battle to win the tournament and get a ticket for Japan.”
“Playing at the Olympics is very, very important,” he added, “It was one of our goals last summer, and despite having to go through to the qualifying tournament, we know we have the talent to qualify for Tokyo. We don’t want to miss that tournament, we want to keep playing on the biggest stage every time there is an international tournament.”
“I always love to represent my country and I’d like to help it play on this fantastic stage that is the Olympics,” he said commenting on the importance of advancing to the Olympics, “We have to go through an extra tournament to reach that goal, but we’ll embrace this opportunity and try to make the most of it to seal a spot for the Olympic games.”
Looking back on the 2019 FIBA World Cup and the missed opportunity for a direct Olympic ticket, Sabonis touched on the costly details that separated his national team from its goal. “We had a very good game against France, but we had some mistakes in the last couple of minutes that were fatal to us” he remembered.
“We needed to win to keep our hopes alive to go to the next round,” the young forward/center pointed out, “At this level of competitiveness, making very small mistakes can make a big difference and France did punish us in the money time with some brilliant plays.”
“We were a bit unlucky in some situations, too, in my opinion, but that game did hurt,” he added, “It’s the kind of game where it is a ‘do or die’ and we got beat, so we were put in the most frustrating situation. We are going to learn from this game, and we will come back better next year for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.”
“We showed our unity and our chemistry, which is one of the keys of our competitiveness,” he took out from the tournament at China, “Despite the losses to Australia and France, we played very well during most of the game, so we need to build on this. We know how to play, we know how to play as a team and we just need a tiny bit more luck on our side and to keep working hard to win medals and titles in my opinion.”
“The level of competitiveness is getting higher and higher,” Sabonis mentioned in conclusion, “but we know that we can compete and win against a lot of teams. We want medals and titles, and I am sure that it will happen very soon. We are a team that is united, very solid and we love to play with each other and represent our country.”