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Lebanon coach Butautas preaches effort, discipline and desire

BEIRUT (FIBA Asia Cup 2017) - Ambition and enthusiasm are not in short supply for Ramunas Butautas, the veteran coach trying to lead his new team Lebanon to glory this summer at the FIBA Asia Cup.

The former Lithuania boss is, however, also realistic. Getting to the podium for the Cedars is going to be extremely difficult. That's true even with Lebanon serving as the host nation of the 16-team tournament.

14 Jasmon Jovan Youngblood (LBN) - 6 Mohamad Ali Haidar (LBN) - Chinese Taipei v Lebanon, 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, Changsha - CSWC Dayun (People's Republic of China), Preliminary Round, 23 September 2015
"I am very happy to be part of the Lebanese national basketball team," Butautas said to FIBA.basketball. "I am well aware of how much basketball is loved in the country and I know how dedicated players and fans are for this sport around here.

"I'm striving for my best to pass on to the players all of my knowledge, experience and my heart. I hope that numerous injuries and a rather short preparation period will not influence our plans for the Asian Cup 2017 and will allow us to show a quality game and bring pride to our fans.

"I have always been optimistic in my career and I continue having a positive attitude while being a head coach of the Lebanese national team."

One of the attractions to Butautas for Lebanon was that he had been at the helm of one of the most famous national teams in the world, Lithuania. He steered the Baltic side to a third-place finish at FIBA EuroBasket 2007 and a fourth-place finish at the 2008 Olympics. His time in charge of Lithuania ended after a disappointing FIBA EuroBasket 2009 campaign

Butautas is not expecting any easy games in Asia. The Cedars will play in Group C against Kazakhstan, Korea and one of the new teams of Asia, the New Zealand Tall Blacks.

Both Asia newcomers Australia and New Zealand have pedigree. The former, who are in Group D, had a team that nearly captured the bronze medal at last year's Olympics. New Zealand reached the Round of 16 at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup and also played well at last year's FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila.

"There is no doubt that the national teams of Australia and New Zealand will strengthen the Asian Cup and create a big competition for every opponent," Butautas said. "It's obvious that our group is very strong. We respect every opponent that we are going to face. However, we'll fight to the maximum in every game and only time will show how the teams will end up in the final standings."

Perhaps more important than the results will be the impact that Butautas has on helping shape Lebanese basketball now and for the immediate future.

"I always tell my players that victories will be reached if the team is disciplined, that there is a strong team spirit and players fight on the court until the last drop (of sweat). Only when you leave everything you have on the court can you expect that fortune will be on your side."

What kind of basketball will Lebanon play under Butautas? When he coached Lithuania, he used a lot of players and had an up-tempo style.

"It is true that I like fast and aggressive basketball on both sides of the floor, along with a disciplined tactical team game," he said. "Since I can conclude that I am fond of Lebanese basketball and its qualities, we only have to add some small details of my experience of European basketball.

"In order to play fast-paced, aggressive basketball, you must use a long bench. It's a dream of every coach to be able to use every single one of the 12 players and I am no different. However, as of today, our team is limited with injuries and it's difficult to predict how many players will be able to recover and reach the necessary form to compete in the Asian Cup. We are hoping for the best and expect every single player to play a significant role in our team."

Source: http://www.fiba.com/asiacup/2017/news/lebanon-coach-butautas-preaches-effort-discipline-and-desire

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