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Lithuanian Basketball League Odds

Who wins the Lithuanian Basketball League 2017/2018?

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In Lithuania, basketball is the elite sport. This country is a true land of basketball, and the Lithuanian national team has been among the best teams in the world since this country was given independence from Soviet Union. The first season of the league started on 1993/94 season, and this league was the first professional sport league established in the country since its independence.

Even when they were part of Soviet Union, Lithuania had some elite players, and they brought their knowledge of the international and even NBA basketball into new national league.  Šarūnas Marčiulionis, one of the best players outside of USA of all time, used his experience in NBA, as he was one of the first international players to play in NBA. He was founder and the first president of Lithuanian basketball league, and he applied some of the principles of the NBA to domestic league. For example, the league introduced draft system in Europe basketball, which was the first time in sports history that some league outside the USA has that practice. Although draft system remained only for the first season, the league’s financial terms and conditions ensured that only the most capable teams participate.

The league gathers 10 teams, and considering that basketball is absolute number one sport in the country, arenas are nicely filled with crowd. Average arena capacity of the league is 5,560 seats, and average attendance was 2,287 in the last season, which is 12,6% increase from the season before.  Every city has its own basketball team, a thing also inherited from NBA. This helps the country and basketball federation to bring the game in every part of the country, making more and more base for future talents.

However, with all the efforts to build a competitive league, one team absolutely became a synonym for the league. BC Zalgiris won first six championships played, and only one team managed to win the title beside them in the league history – Lietuvos Ritas. Zalgiris with 19 and Ritas with 5 titles are the only two teams that were crowned as national champions to this day.

Format

Lietuvos krepšinio lyga, as the official name of the league goes, gathers 10 teams. The league is closed, meaning there are no relegation and promotion from lower leagues. Every team plays two home and away games, which makes total of 36 fixtures in the regular season.

After regular season, eight best teams head into playoffs. Quarterfinals and semifinals are played in best-of-five series, and the champion is decided in best-of-seven series in the finals. Also, since the establishment of the league, bronze medal series are played. Only on three occasions there were no third-place series. Those games are played in best-of-five series and the winner of the series is rewarded with bronze medal.

Last season

2016/17 season was another completely in mark of Zalgiris. Team from Kaunas finished regular season with overall record 33-3, and point differential +609, meaning they were beating opponents by 17 points in average. Rytas and Liektabells were behind champions with 26-10 and 25-10 overall score.

 In playoffs, Zalgiris went 10-2 and won final series against Liektabells, winning their seventh consecutive title. Liektabells made their firs final appearance in club history and the first medal also, and Rytas won the bronze medal series against Neptunas in five games, and by this extending the streak of 20 consecutive seasons with a medal.

Next season the champions will be…

Sort and simple – Zalgiris. This team is a synonym for Lithuanian club basketball, since the foundation of the league. They are A-license carriers for Euroleague, stable financially and with huge fan base in the country. Zalgiris have won their seventh consecutive title this season, and other teams are simply no match for them, and that will probably remain that way for years to come.

As always, Rytas and Nptunas are expected to be among the top teams next season also, and other teams don’t have enough tradition or pedigree of front runners to build a stable core of players and be competitive for more than one year.

The season has not even begun, but the champion is already known. That is practically a certainty, and it would be a huge surprise if someone overthrows Zalgiris from throne in foreseeable future.