Zalgiris Kaunas announced Tuesday that it has exercised its options to extend the contracts of two key players from last season’s squad, veteran guard Marko Popovic and forward Vytenis Lipkevicius, for the 2012-13 season. Popovic (1.85 meters, 30 years old) was the team’s top weapon off the bench last season with 12.5 points and 2.1 assists in 14 Turkish Airlines Euroleague games off the bench. He also put forth 10.3 points and 3.8 assists in the Lithuanian League in helping Zalgiris to a splendid season in which it won the Lithuanian Cup and League titles plus the Batlic League. Popovic previously spent two seasons with the club between 2006 and 2008. In between he played three seasons for Unics Kazan and was chosen the 2011 Eurocup Finals MVP after scoring 18 points and dishing a Eurocup title game record 11 assists in leading that team to the title. Popovic grew up with Zadar in his native Croatia and has also played for Valencia in Spain, Efes Pilsen in Turkey and Cibona in Croatia during his impressive career. Among Popovic’s list of titles are winning the Eurocup, Adriatic League, and Croatian League crowns once each as well as the Baltic League twice and the Lithuanian League on three occasions. He has also collected cups in Turkey, Lithuanian, Croatia and Russia. Popovic has represented the Croatian national team at the world’s most important events, including the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey.
Lipkevicius (1.95 meters, 23 years old) is a product of the Zalgiris youth system, who joined the club’s senior squad in November of last season. He proceeded to start seven of the next 12 Euroleague games and made most of his impact on the defensive end. Lipkevicius averaged 4 points and 3.2 rebounds in 21 Lithuanian League games for Zalgiris. He started the season with KK Baltai Kaunas before moving to Zalgiris. Lipkevicius previously suited up for Aisciai Kaunas and Rudupis Prienai.