Club profile: Zalgiris Kaunas

Aug 20, 2019 by Print
Club profile: Zalgiris Kaunas

Zalgiris Kaunas comes off another strong season in which it cemented its status as one of the best teams in European basketball. The club relied on Coach Sarunas Jasikevicius and added a handful of new players while keeping stars Paulius Jankunas, Brandon Davies, Edgaras Ulanovas and Aaron White. Zalgiris struggled early in the regular season and dropped six of its first nine games, but bounced back by winning four of the next five. The rollercoaster continued as Zalgiris suffered seven more losses in its next nine contests. By Round 24, Zalgiris ranked 13th with a 9-15 record, three wins outside the playoffs zone. Just when reaching the playoffs seemed impossible, Zalgiris reeled off six victories in a row, the last against Real Madrid in the Spanish capital, and qualified to the next round against all odds from eighth place with a 15-15 record. Once in the playoffs, Zalgiris stole home-court advantage from Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, but back-to-back losses at Zalgirio Arena eliminated the Lithuanian champs from the competition. Davies was chosen to the All-EuroLeague First Team. In domestic competitions, Zalgiris lost against archrivals Rytas Vilnius in the Lithuanian Cup final, but bounced back in the Lithuanian League to capture its ninth consecutive title with authority.


2018-19 EuroLeague 16-18 Playoffs
2017-18 EuroLeague 22-14 Final Four, Semifinals
2016-17 EuroLeague 14-16 Regular Season
2015-16 EuroLeague 7-17 Top 16
2014-15 EuroLeague 10-14 Top 16
2013-14 EuroLeague 7-17 Top 16
2012-13 EuroLeague 14-10 Top 16
2011-12 EuroLeague 4-12 Top 16
2010-11 EuroLeague 6-10 Top 16
2009-10 EuroLeague 5-11 Top 16
2008-09 EuroLeague 2-8 Regular Season
2007-08 EuroLeague 9-11 Top 16
2006-07 EuroLeague 2-12 Regular Season
2005-06 EuroLeague 9-11 Top 16
2004-05 EuroLeague 8-12 Top 16
2003-04 EuroLeague 9-11 Top 16
2002-03 EuroLeague 5-9 Regular Season
2001-02 EuroLeague 5-9 Regular Season
2000-01 EuroLeague 6-6 Playoffs
TOTAL: 388 160-228

Zalgiris is a synonym for basketball in a country that lives and breathes the sport. Zalgiris was founded in 1944 by the best basketball players in Kaunas and the club needed just three years to win its first Soviet title. It became Soviet champion four other times – in 1951 and from 1985 to 1987, with 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 twice came within a victory of a European trophy, but lost the 1984 Saporta Cup final to Barcelona and came up short in the 1986 EuroLeague championship game against Cibona Zagreb and Drazen Petrovic. Following independence for Lithuania in 1990, Zalgiris gave its basketball-loving fans plenty to cheer about. While the club won the first nine Lithuanian League championships, thus creating a dynasty, it also lifted its first-ever European trophy, the Saporta Cup in 1998, by downing Adecco Milan in the title game behind 35 points from Saulius Stombergas. A year later, Zalgiris shocked the continent by winning the 1999 EuroLeague title. With a fun-to-watch offensive style, the cast of stars including Tyus Edney, Stombergas, Anthony Bowie, Eurelijus Zukauskas and Jiri Zidek was led by Coach Jonas Kazlauskas to Europe's top. Zalgiris has competed in the EuroLeague every year since and was close to glory again in 2004 – Sabonis’s retirement season – when it lost a do-or-die Top 16 finale in overtime in epic fashion against eventual champ Maccabi Tel Aviv. The club continued its dominance at home and also lifted the Baltic League crown in that competition’s inaugural 2005 season and won triple crowns – Baltic League, Lithuanian League and Lithuanian Cup – in 2008, 2011 and 2012. Zalgiris brought in Coach Sarunas Jasikevicius and started another golden age. In the 2017-18 season, Zalgiris made it to the playoffs and downed Olympiacos Piraeus to make it to the Final Four for the first time since 1999. Paulius Jankunas and Brandon Davies earned monthly MVP honors in December and April, respectively, and Jankunas and Kevin Pangos were named to the All-EuroLeague Second Team. Last season, Zalgiris used a late six-game winning streak to return to the playoffs where it lost to Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul. The club finished the season strong with a ninth consecutive Lithuanian League title and Davies made it to the All-EuroLeague First Team. Zalgiris will be competitive again this season as the team to beat in Lithuania and a strong contender in the EuroLeague.

Trophy Case

Euroleague: 1999
Saporta Cup: 1998
Intercontinental Cup: 1986
Baltic League: 2005, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012
NEBL: 1999
Lithuanian National League: 31 titles, 21 in Lithuanian LKL League champions (1994–present)
1949-50, 1951-52, 1952-53, 1953-54, 1954-55, 1956-57, 1957-58, 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, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19
Lithuanian Federation Cup: 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2018
Lithuanian Supercup: 2012
Soviet Union National League: 1946-47, 1950-51, 1984-85, 1985-86, 1986-87