3X3 - Kaunas and Kalvelis enjoying finishing on top

14 Jun 2013

KAUNAS (3x3) - When it looked like Mindaugas Kalvelis would once again have to settle for second place, he forced destiny and won the Snickers Virus Final, a 3x3 tournament staged in Kaunas which qualifies for the FIBA 3x3 World Tour.

The Lithuanian big man (2,05m) can remember every moment of a thrilling final.

"We reached overtime and they scored first," he said.

"We tied the game. Then they had a free-throw which could have won the game for them. They missed. I picked up the rebound, rushed outside the arc, faked then scored on a penetration."

Winning meant the world to the 32-year-old who had a history of falling short in finals.

"I always took second place in those tournaments," he admitted.

"So it was a big pride to win this one. It was amazing. I had goosebumps and it was a good feeling too to get the support of my wife and my friends."

It was no small achievement for Team Kaunas - which also features Mindaugas Kaselis, Tautvydas Zioba and Karolis Abramavicius - who in the final beat a team from Vilnius - which had four players from the Lithuanian second division side Statyba Vilnius, including centre Vitalijs Luksa who reached the FIBA 3x3 World Tour final last season and is the 14th best 3x3 player in the world.

"We played a very strong team in the final," he acknowledged.

"But I think we played a little smarter with a lot of pick and roll. I play with an old friend of mine plus two younger guys so it as a good mix between experience and youth."

The 10-year veteran has travelled all over Europe during his career yet he admits it will be his first time playing basketball in the Czech Republic when he goes there for the Prague Masters this summer.

"I have played in Denmark, in France and in Hungary," Kalvelis said.

"But I have only been to Prague for sightseeing."

With the best teams in Eastern Europe gathered at the Masters event, the weekend of 24-25 August might not look like another holiday for Mindaugas Kalvelis.