This season will be the 20th in the history of Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius basketball club. Since the foundation of the club in 1997 Lietuvos Rytas has celebrated a number of remarkable victories.
The most memorable moment in international competition was the triumph in the 2005 ULEB cup competition. Lietuvos Rytas won the trophy in a brilliant final game against Greece’s Makedonikos, 78:74. In 2007 Lietuvos rytas had another successful year when the team reached the ULEB cup final for the second time in three years. Despite the loss in the championship game to Real Madrid, the Lithuanian powerhouse earned a spot in the men’s elite tournament, Euroleague.
There, in the 2007-2008 season, Lietuvos Rytas played remarkable basketball and won the group stage of the competition. The Vilnius team was stopped just before the quarterfinals. That was Lietuvos Rytas' second successful year in Euroleague. The team silenced all the sceptics by advancing to the Top 16 stage of the tournament also in 2006. In 2008-2009 season Lietuvos Rytas became the first club to win the Eurocup twice.
Lietuvos Rytas made its debut in the top European competition back in 2000 when the tournament was called the Suproleague. For a young team the season started slowly. However, Lietuvos Rytas then engineered a great turnaround and catapulted into the playoffs.
One of the most significant years in the club's history was the season of 2005-2006. The Vilnius team took the Baltic Basketball League (BBL) champions crown as well as swept their deadly rivals Zalgiris Kaunas in the finals of the Lithuanian Basketball League (LKL).
It was the third time that Lietuvos Rytas was crowned the Lithuanian champions. The first championship came to the capital of Lithuania in the franchise’s third year of existence in 2000. Lietuvos Rytas broke through and won their first LKL Championship in four games over Zalgiris Kaunas which had been undefeated for 7 years.
In 2002 Lietuvos Rytas again left no chance for Zalgiris Kaunas in the finals of the LKL. It was one of the most memorable moments in the history of Lietuvos Rytas because the team also triumphed in the Northern European Basketball League (NEBL) when they beat the strongest Russian club Ural Great Perm.
The Lietuvos Rytas trophy case also contains the Lithuanian basketball federation Cup of 1998 and the 2007 BBL champions title, as well as seven silver and one bronze medal in the Lithuanian league.
“If you had to describe the Lietuvos Rytas team in just a few words I would say that it is a winning team”, Lietuvos rytas president Gedvydas Vainauskas said. “There are so many teams in Europe that exist for ten, thirty or fifty years but they have not won a title. Lietuvos rytas is a story of success”.
Who could have guessed that now more than 10 thousand fans would attend every game in Vilnius when the club was launched and played in a tiny arena eleven years ago?
Lietuvos Rytas is a privately owned organization that has a number of sponsors. People believed that Vilnius should have a strong basketball team and Lietuvos Rytas management proved that it was possible to build a new and successful franchise. It was not done by investing huge amounts of money and getting the best players. Step by step Lietuvos Rytas was looking for young talents of Lithuania and was mixing them with experienced internationals.
Lietuvos Rytas has produced some of the most recognizable athletes of European basketball who have left to play in some of the best teams in Europe. It was hard to say good bye to such basketball stars as Sarunas Jasikevicius, Arvydas Macijauskas, Ramunas Siskauskas and Robertas Javtokas.
Still, Lietuvos Rytas has kept its basketball at the highest level. Great players come and go but their achievements, victories and the aura of their beautiful game stay with the team. Lithuania is a small country and not very well known to the world, but basketball produces some of the world's most exceptional talents.
Lietuvos Rytas victories prove that. With the help of players, coaches, fans and sponsors Lietuvos rytas has become one of the enduring symbols of Lithuanian basketball. This year Lietuvos Rytas is ready for another impressive season and will look to continue their history-making legacy.