Hello, Coach! As a warm-hearted Olympiacos fan, I would like to ask you if this team was built for future success. Will it be a failure if we do not manage to qualify for the Final Four nor win the Greek League, or is this team's goal to get to know each other so that we should expect great things in years to come?
Alex - Aberdeen, Scotland
"For sure, this season we tried to build a team for now. But what happened was that we didn't find some key players whom we were thinking about. So we made the next step, which was signing some young boys who can have success in the future. I think now those same young guys are playing very well, so maybe we can have success this season, too. Maybe that won't happen, but we can certainly try this season, too."
Hi, Mr. Kazlauskas. Many newspapers in Greece support the idea that a defensive basketball style is more effective than your offensive one. What do you think? Can Olympiacos successfully play your offensive basketball style? Wishing you the best!
George Toutouzas - Athens, Greece
"I don't like to say that my style is offensive. Every time, I simply try to find the best style for the players I have on that team. Sometimes, when you have very talented players, you can play very hard defense. Sometimes you have, let's say, players who excel on offense. Whatever the case, I think success is a balance between the two. If you can play defense and offense together, you will definitely have more success."
Mr. Jonas, You have coached both Zalgiris and Lietuvos Rytas during your career. What do you think about which team can do better this season in the Euroleague? Regards,
Andrius Kudarauskas - Lithuania
"Both teams have been really big surprises in Europe this season. Both are playing very well, for sure. The bigger surprise is Lietuvos Rytas, of course, because this is its first season in the Euroleague. I think both have built good teams, with experienced players and at the same time young ones who perform at a really high level. From those things come success. Now, it's only half a season, and they have to keep going the same way to continue to be successful."
At the Olympics in Athens, Chinese national team coach Del Harris said that to be ready for the Beijing Olympics in 208, Chinese players need to play in the Euroleague. As the assistant coach of that Chinese team, do you agree?
Manolo Montero - Spain
"Yes, I agree with this. I think that if China wants to make a better team for the Beijing Olympics, some of their players need to play in other leagues, and the best opportunity for them is the Euroleague."
Hey Coach, what are you doing different this year that will improve your defense from last year?
Klemen K. - Ljubljana, Slovenia
"Defense is about hard work. Sometimes players want a little rest on defense. I don't like this, so during practice and during games, I explain to them that all of us make mistakes and miss shots, but if somebody rests on defense, I will change him and he won't be on my team. You can play better or worse, but you have to try to do the best you can do. If you can play individual defense and team defense, you can have a successful team."
Mr. Jonas, it has been quite a long time after you left Lithuania and Lithuanian teams. Have you burnt all your bridges with Lithuanian basketball, or do you still have some willingness left to represent a Lithuanian national or club team? Thank you,
BRRokas - Lithuania
"It's difficult to answer this question. Everything is going OK now for the Lithuanian clubs and the national team is also going very well. Those things show that they don't need changes. As for me, it's a big event to work outside of Lithuania. I am happy that I can work in Greece with Olympiacos or with the Chinese national team, in order to check my ideas in other countries and to found out how good or not those ideas are. But I never want to say no for Lithuanian clubs and teams. You never know what the future brings, but with what I am doing now, I am happy."
What most important thing for young players when we talk about technique?
Marko Vuckovic - Serbia and Montenegro
"I think we have a lot of good young talent playing in all countries in Europe now, in Serbia, in Lithuania, in Greece, even on our club, Olympiacos. For me, it's most important that a young player needs to have more character to stay after practice and work on simple things. Maybe some young players think they are ready right now and don't like to stay after a hard practices to improve. This is not good. Every coach on high-level teams works on things to benefit the team, and that is not enough for young players. They have to stay after practice and repeat some things: two or three days this, then another thing, then go back and check on the first thing again. They need to be hungry for basketball. That is most important."
Dear Jonas, Given your deep experience in the Lithuanian and international basketball, how difficult or easy is it, in your opinion, to implement the particular principles and philosophies of the Lithuanian basketball school in countries such as Greece or China, especially when you have to deal with the mature players, not youngsters? Is this adaptation more difficult on the professional club level in Greece or on the national team level in China? Thank you,
Giedrius - Kaunas, Lithuania
"For sure, it's not easy. It is somewhat difficult, because those players in China, let's say, or in Greece, were coached and formed by different coaches with different ideas. Sometimes I can change those ideas, but players have habits from their past, and it's not so easy to change those habits. The second thing is that every one of them has a different mentality and a different style of practicing. And, for sure, those things make for more problems. But if something catches on and you have success, that makes it easier."
Hello, Coach. I'm an Olympiacos fan, one of the 14,000 lucky ones at the arena for the game against Panathinaikos. We're all very happy after that win. Congratulations for your great coaching in this game. Are the goals of our team become bigger now after this win? And are we getting any player to replace the losses of Zukauskas and Rancik? Keep up the good work,
Akis Sinis - Greece
"This is good that we beat Panathinaikos. It was a big event for us, because Panathinaikos is a strong team, and it was big for our fans. But if we stop after that and say this is enough, it would be worth nothing. We always look to the future. For us, the goals remain the same ones we talked of at the beginning of the season: to try to beat Panathinaikos in the playoffs and to have success in the Euroleague. Our position in the Euroleague is not good enough yet. Second, about replacing players, I don't think you can find someone to replace Zukauskas. I hope he'll be back at the end of February or early March. But for now, our other two centers, Zizic and Schortsanitis, are playing good, so there is no reason to try to find somebody."
Hello, Jonas. Considering that your contribution to offensive basketball is beyond dispute, I have two questions. First, is your offensive basketball philosophy influenced by any style you experienced during your playing career, and in particular by the Vilnius Statyba team that shook USSR basketball in the 1978-1980 period? Second, what trends do your foresee in European basketball over the next five years after a EuroBasket 2005 where defense was the key to success, in my opinion? With great respect,
Kazys Preiksas - Lithuania
"For sure, my ideas as a coach I have taken from somebody. I had big success with coaches who coached me as a player. And I had the luck to work with some of best in Lithuania and in the Soviet Union. That gave me very good preparation for my future. After that I was an assistant to Coach Vladas Garastas on the Lithuanian national team, and then with Del Harris on the Chinese national team. And at every step along the way you add something, change something, and find answers to some questions. This is the way I get my philosophy of basketball. As to your second question, once again I say that the teams who win championships do not play only defense or offense. Just being good at one or the other, it is difficult to have success. It may look like teams are playing a lot of defense, but at the same time, your offense usually improves with good defense. You are trying to find ways to beat good defenses. So it may look that way because of fewer points, but I think the way to winning basketball is by doing both together. It is impossible to play just offense or defense and have success."