Interview: Former national team manager dreams to bring Chinese basketball players to Lithuania

Xinhua News Agency

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VILNIUS, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- Former manager of the Lithuanian basketball team Antanas Guoga told Xinhua during an interview on Wednesday that he plans to bring Chinese basketballers to play in Lithuania.

"My dream is to bring Chinese players to play in Lithuania," said the former vice president of the Lithuanian basketball federation (LBF) and now a major sponsor.

"Ideally they are young players who want to develop," he added, calling up any Chinese players who get interested in playing in Lithuania to contact via his twitter account (@tonyguoga).

"I hope to have two players from China playing and living in Vilnius, capital city of Lithuania and we have three teams in Vilnius, 1st, 2nd and 3rd division," said Guoga, a member of European Parliament, former world poker star and philanthropist.

The national basketball manager in 2010-2012 and vice president of the LBF until 2016, who's seeking for cooperation in China, is mostly known by the nickname Tony G and recently bought the major share of the famous Lithuanian club Lietuvos Rytas.

In Guoga's opinion, China and Lithuania can enjoy a good partnership by doing more and more games, friendlies and tournaments.

"I want to take my team to China, maybe bring a Chinese team here, and I think that can be good competition," he said. "We can bring some Chinese players to play here, maybe more Lithuanian players can play in China. I think that will be a very good idea."

As a country with a population of less than 3 million, Lithuania ranked the 5th in the latest FIBA world rankings, trailing the United States, Spain, Serbia and France. China was the 14th.

He also expected China to develop a high level basketball league that can compete against the U.S. in 10 years, and probably to become a world-class powerhouse standing the same level with the U.S. in 20 years.

Guoga deemed that China "can have the best league in the world" with the big population and market potential. "Keep improving the league, let it become the place where everybody wants to play, then you will do it," he said.

By bringing in more players, more coaches, more technologies and investment as well, China can manage to reach the goal, added the former boss of Lithuanian basketball.

Concerning the Lithuanian national basketball team's performance in the coming Eurobasket 2017, Guoga was optimistic and confident.

"We expect to win, of course, if for second place, third place, we are not happy, we are only happy with number one, we expect win."

EuroBasket 2017 starts on 31st August. The Lithuanian men's national basketball team won the silver medal at the 2015 edition.

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