Zalgiris Kaunas faces yet another Turkish Airlines Euroleague season with high hopes and ambitions. Last season, Zalgiris brought together some of the best Lithuanian players this century – Sarunas Jasikevicius, Paulius Jankunas and Robertas Javtokas – and added Justin Dentmon, who ended up being the second-best scorer in the 2012-13 Turkish Airlines Euroleague. They took Zalgiris back to the Top 16, but finished that phase with a 2-12 record. Zalgiris cycled through three different coaches – Ilias Zouros, Saulius Stombergas and Gintaras Krapikas – the last of whom led the team to its fourth consecutive Lithuanian League title. This season will be a special one in Kaunas as Zalgiris celebrates its 70th anniversary. Founded in 1944 by the best basketball players in Kaunas, Zalgiris needed just three years to win its first Soviet title. It became Soviet champion four other times – in 1951 and from 1985 to 1987, the latter period going down as the team’s first golden age. With legends Arvydas Sabonis, Sergejus Jovaisa, Rimas Kurtinaitis and Valdemaras Chomicius taking charge, Zalgiris reached the Saporta Cup final in 1984, but lost to Barcelona. Zalgiris did even better in 1986 when it advanced to the Euroleague title game only to lose the crown to Cibona and Drazen Petrovic. Following independence for Lithuania in 1990, Zalgiris won the first nine Lithuanian League championships, thus creating a dynasty. In 1998, the team lifted its first-ever European trophy, the Saporta Cup, by downing Adecco Milano 82-67 in the title game behind 35 points from Stombergas. A year later, Zalgiris shocked the continent by winning the 1999 Euroleague title with a fun-to-watch offensive style that influenced the sport heading into a new century. A cast of stars including Tyus Edney, Stombergas, Anthony Bowie, Eurelijus Zukauskas, Jiri Zidek and Coach Jonas Kazlauskas helped Zalgiris show that up-tempo basketball could also win titles. Zalgiris came within a shot of the Euroleague Final Four in 2004 – Sabonis’s retirement season – before eventual champion Maccabi Tel Aviv won their do-or-die Top 16 finale in overtime in epic fashion. Zalgiris continued to win Lithuanian League titles from 2003 to 2005, the year in which the club also became the first to win the Baltic League. With Sabonis backing the team as president, Zalgiris's success extended to its junior team, which won the 2007 Nike International Junior Tournament at the Final Four in Athens. Zalgiris lifted three trophies – the Baltic League, Lithuanian League and Lithuanian Cup – in 2008, 2011 and 2012. In the 2012-13 season, with Joan Plaza as head coach and signature players Marko Popovic, the Lavrinovic twins and Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Zalgiris successfully defended its Lithuanian League crown and won its VTB League and Euroleague regular season groups, collecting prestigious road wins against Olympiacos Piraeus, CSKA Moscow, Anadolu Efes Istanbul and Laboral Kutxa Vitoria. Zalgiris did not advance past the Euroleague Top 16 despite a respectable 6-8 record, but did reach the VTB League semifinals. This year look for Zalgiris to follow the same model – the best Lithuanian players with a few strategic imports – playing in front of fantastic crowds at Zalgiris Arena to compete at the highest levels.
Saporta Cup: 1998
Baltic League: 2005, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012
Lithuanian National League: 1949-50, 1951-52, 1952-53, 1953-54, 1954-55, 1956-57, 1957-58, 1989-90, 1990-91, 1991-92, 1992-93, 1993-94, 1994-95, 1995-96, 1996-97, 1997-98, 1998-99, 2000-01, 2002-03, 2003-04, 2004-05, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14
Lithuanian Federation Cup: 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012
Lithuanian Supercup: 2012
Soviet Union National League: 1946-47, 1950-51, 1984-85, 1985-86, 1986-87
Intercontinental Cup: 1986