Every week, fibaeurope.com collaborator Mark Woods talks to players with a single travel destination in mind this summer, Lithuania.
Last but by no means least in the series is the hosts' talisman, Sarunas Jasikevicius.
Mark Woods writes on basketball for a number of British newspapers as well as broadcasting for the BBC and Sky Sports. He is also assistant editor of mvp247.com and can be found on Twitter @markbritball.
Surrounded by a throng of journalists hanging on his every word, Sarunas Jasikevicius pondered the gravity of the situation.
Why, when Lithuania's accomplished veteran could have been resting at the hotel, playing cards, watching TV, chilling out, was he here in the gym, shooting ball after ball, doing extra work when so much had already been put in?
"I wanted to get out of the house," he grinned.
"I'm not sure what the others are up to. Maybe they were building tents or just making a mess."
|Sarunas Jasikevicius and his Lithuania team-mates are carrying an enormous load on their shoulders, the great expectations of a basketball-mad nation|
Perhaps, you felt, it was to escape the cocoon which often is built around players at major tournaments to shield them from the outside world. But there is no hiding place in this country.
Basketball is everywhere, an alternative religion. And EuroBasket 2011 will be an all-consuming presence over the next 18 days as the continent's very best players do battle for the right to be champion.
Expectations remain elevated despite a line-up which will be weakened by the absence of Linas Kleiza and Jonas Macilulis through injury.
Not because Lithuania was third in last year's FIBA world championship in Turkey. Nor because they still retain an exciting mix of young and old.
But because, on home soil, the Lithuanians desperately crave victory. Flags sit atop cars, banners hang in stores, the country's TV is treating the event like a state occasion and there is a buzz which is, in truth, unimaginable anywhere else.
"I feel great support," Jasikevicius, now aged 35, confessed. "People want us to succeed." Badly and overwhelmingly so.
Home advantage can be a blessing and a curse. The Turks - who join the hosts, plus Spain, Great Britain, Portugal and Poland in a first round group in Panevezys - rode the wave of intense fervour last summer to the world championship final in Istanbul.
Two years ago, the Poles over-achieved on home soil. Sometimes, the pressure and scrutiny can cause a team to buckle under its weight. Not since 1993 in Germany have the home side savoured triumph but it has happened eight times in EuroBasket history, including the last time the tournament came here in 1939.
Millions will be watching on television and hoping that there is no repeat of EuroBasket 1999 when Lithuania, with a young Jasikevicius in its ranks, were stunned by the Czech Republic in their opening game.
With a build-up that has delivered mixed results, the hosts will want to avoid any repeat in their initial game against the British.
"Everything is new," Jasikevicius underlines. "You feel nervous. Losing would be bad. The first game is never easy. We need to concentrate for 40 (minutes) to make sure we get a positive result."
An upset victory would be Britain's biggest in their history. A defeat for Lithuania - who last won the European title in 2003 - could send the country into despair.
They will need to improve from their last tune-up when Slovenia ran riot. "We have to step up our defence and if we can stop our rivals from scoring more than 70 points, we've got a chance," coach Kestutis Kemzura said.
This tournament will be a celebration of basketball. The players are eager to do what they can to spark the mother of all parties if they should end up claiming gold in Kaunas on September 18.
"We've worked hard," Jasikevicius adds. "We have really good players, a great coach." But for his team, the enjoyment and the fervour will only be truly experienced if they deliver on the court. "It could be fun after," he smiles.
A nation holds its breath and expects.