While the VTB League is doing its best to wriggle itself into mainstream European basketball, there might be a strictly Lithuanian changeover of power in the league’s office, as Sarunas Marciulionis seems like the most likely candidate to replace Tomas Pacesas, who is bound to step down as the Executive Director of the league.
Sources close to the situation have informed LithuaniaBasketball.com that the Lithuanian legend Marciulionis is the front-runner to take over from Pacesas, who is already looking for a way out after only three months in office.
Pacesas started work as the Executive Director of the VTB League after ending his long tenure at Asseco Prokom, which started in 2007 and lasted for five seasons, before ending in March. However, it is said that he is already waiting for offers to get back into coaching.
Most likely to take over is a fellow Lithuanian Sarunas Marciulionis, who has had a fair share of experience of running a league from the days as the Commissioner of the North European Basketball League (NEBL).
It is reported, that amongst the factors, which could lead to Marciulionis taking over the Executive Director chair, is the fact that he has a good relationship with Sergei Ivanov, the President of the VTB League.
It is, perhaps, also worth noting that Marciulionis has clashed heads with the Lithuanian Basketball Federation (LKF) on multiple occasions in the past.
The VTB League’s importance has been on the rise, as it has officially announced a co-operation deal with Euroleague and will replace PBL, which is awaiting termination, as the platform for the Russian championship.
Sarunas Marciulionis was quick to answer the news about the possibility of taking the new position and, in an interview with 15min.lt, denied that he has already been approached by Sergei Ivanov and the VTB League.
Would you be interested in the position in the VTB League?
When I will be approached, then I’ll be able to comment something. Now it’s only other people’s words. There’s nothing to comment.
How are the VTB League and NEBL similar, is the vision of the league similar?
They’re both regional projects. That’s how they’re similar. Of course, we had much smaller financial capabilities. We worked in a different way, trying to give more benefits to the clubs. Obviously, that is fixable if that vision is to be part of European highest-level basketball. In that perspective, the vision is very clear. But when it’s only a third tier competition, it doesn’t suit neither the clubs, the organisers, nor the fans.
VTB League is trying to diminish the importance of national championships. Do you agree with the view that regional leagues should be more important than domestic competitions?
There’s no single cure for basketball in different coutnries. Each country has its specifics and their domestic leagues are developed differently. Of course, there’s no point of destroying what has already been built. But there are teams that need stronger competition. The fans need that. I think the leagues have to find a consensus. Maybe playing only part of the domestic championship. A compromise is needed, because teams like Zalgiris and Lietuvos Rytas would end up playing 80 games per season. It’s not good for the fans, the players, the popularity and the overall basketball value.