Lietkabelis Panevezys is competing in its fourth 7DAYS EuroCup season, fresh and polished and with lots of tricks hiding up Coach Nenad Canak’s sleeves. The Lithuanian team underwent an “extreme makeover” this offseason with many departures and additions, which raised questions about Lietkabelis’s chances to withstand the strongest EuroCup season to date.
The odds have been in the team’s favor so far. Lietkabelis has a 2-2 record in Group A with victories against Slask Wroclaw and MoraBanc Andorra. It also looked Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar’s super squad in the eye in a game that was decided in the final seconds in Panevezys.
What makes this Lietkabelis squad interesting though is a key addition that was made over the summer, Gediminas Orelik. The 31-year-old forward is no stranger to the EuroCup. He’s already had several seasons averaging double figures in points scored and this one marks his seventh overall campaign. Despite going M.I.A. for six years, he is now re-introducing himself in the best way possible, after stints with Banvit, Umana Reyer Venice, Siauliai and Spars.
Orelik leads all Lietkabelis scorers with 16.8 points per game, which places him in the ninth overall spot among the scoring leaders for the 2021-22 campaign. The Siauliai native has proved to be a real threat from the three-point line, which he showcased in a tough game against Hamburg Towers in Round 4.
He made 7 out of 14 threes in scoring a career-high 31 points. Although Lietkabelis lost this one down the final stretch, Orelik climbed up the list of three-point scorers to second place, trailing only Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana’s Jacob Pullen.
The otherwise young Lietkabelis squad has relied on his experience and leadership and figures to do so even more as the season progresses.
For now, Lietkabelis and Orelik will be tested on the road against title-contender Partizan NIS Belgrade on Wednesday. Although by the looks of it you may think the Serbian side has a clear advantage, the story is slightly different in this case.
Stats don’t always tell the full story, though we cannot overlook the fact that the Lithuanian side has a clear advantage when it comes to the offensive end – it scores more points (81.3 as opposed to Partizan’s 79.8), ranks fourth overall in the competition with 38.8 rebounds per game and in this match-up, they also have a clear edge in assists (18.3-14.3).
Adding these intriguing stats, Coach Canak will be also reunited with his former club after two stints in Belgrade – first as an assistant coach to Aleksandar Dzikic (2016-17) and then as Partizan’s head coach in 2017-18 amid financial struggles for the club.
A victory in this one is not the be-all and end-all for Lietkabelis, but it does have a chance to emerge and so far, it remains perfect on the road.