Euroleague classic Ramunas Siskauskas retires from basketball

May 21, 2012 by Print
Euroleague classic Ramunas Siskauskas retires from basketball
Ramunas Siskauskas - CSKA Moscow
One of the Euroleague's greatest players and gentlemen this century, CSKA Moscow forward Ramunas Siskauskas, formally announced his retirement from professional basketball on Monday. The announcement made by CSKA came two days after Siskauskas helped win the club's 10th consecutive Russian League title and one week after the team's runner-up finish in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague title game. Siskauskas, 33, was one of the few players ever to win back-to-back Euroleague titles with different teams. In 2007, his third Euroleague season, he joined Panathinaikos and took the trophy in Athens as the team's highest scorer at the Final Four. One year later, he was in a CSKA uniform and again lifting the trophy as that season's Euroleague MVP.

"It was not a sudden decision," Siskauskas told CSKA's official website on Monday. "I made my choice in the middle of the season. It was not connected with anything specific – I just feel I should stop. I can only be excited about my career. God led me to numerous accomplishments though I started playing basketball late and I don’t have any basketball school behind my back. I was happy to play for several great teams, to win a number of titles. I am glad I was able to quit as a significant player, playing for such great team and organization as CSKA Moscow."

His journey from a small village in Lithuania to a two-time Euroleague champion, an MVP and a member of the All-Decade Team were hardly what Siskauskas expected when he fell in love with basketball. In fact, he was a teenage streetballer with no plans for a pro career when a coach in his small Lithuanian village asked him to join a team. "I didn't go to any sports school when I was a kid. I was just playing outside with my friends," he told Euroleague.TV before this season. "I can say that I came from nowhere. Let's say from outside, from the field, I came to basketball. And I reached a lot of things."

Siskauskas started winning Lithuanian League titles with Lietuvos Rytas of Vilnius in 2000 and 2001, in the middle of six seasons with the club. His next move, to Benetton Treviso from 2004 to 2006, saw Siskauskas win both an Italian Cup and national title.

His next stop was Panathinaikos, where he was named for the first of four times to the All-Euroleague team and proved that his career-long scoring prowess as a shooter and one-on-one player were ready for the big time. His season was crowned in spectacular fashion as the Greens won the title at home in Athens.

"The atmosphere the fans created before the games and during the games was unbelievable," Siskauskas said. "For me, it was the first Final Four and we won the title right away. So I cannot forget this, and I will not."

The next year, Siskauskas outdid himself with Euroleague career highs of 14 points and 57% two-point shooting as he was voted by fans and media as the 2007-08 MVP. When CSKA lifted the trophy, while he scored 14.5 points per game in Madrid, Siskauskas became one of two other players this century, along with Dejan Bodiroga and Sarunas Jasikevicius, to win consecutive Euroleague titles with different teams.

Siskauskas helped CSKA reach three of the next four Final Fours as well. In Berlin, in 2009, his 29-point performance in a semifinal victory over Barcelona was his career best, the highest-scoring performance at any Final Four game this century and the fourth-most scored in a Final Four game since 1989. In the title game, he led CSKA on a 22-point comeback after halftime before his final shot to win the game on the buzzer rimmed out. Last week, Siskauskas and CSKA returned to the title game, but lost in the final second after Siskauskas missed 2 free throws with 9.7 seconds remaining.

Siskauskas finished his eight-season Euroleague career with 1,655 points to rank 17th on the all-time list of scorers in the competition. He played in five Final Fours, winning two and losing two other finals by a total of 3 points. Among 13 players who appeared in 10 or more Final Four games this century, Siskauskas had the highest scoring average, 14.7 points per game.

Siskauskas was a 41.92% career three-point shooter and downed 44 of 80 (55%) in the 2009-10 season. Siskauskas was named the 2006-07 and 2007-08 Euroleague April MVP, was chosen to the All-Euroleague First Team in 2007-08 and made it to the second team in 2005-06, 2008-09 and 2009-10. He helped Lithuania win EuroBasket 2003 and get respective bronze medals at the 2000 Olympic Games and EuroBasket 2007. Siskauskas also lifted nine league trophies in four different countries - Lithuania, Italy, Greece and Russia.

"Everything I wanted was to play to play the highest level," he said before the season. "And my dream came true."