|Artūras Jomantas and Lietuvos Rytas are regular contenders in the Euroleague|
Lietuvos Rytas is a professional basketball club based in Vilnius playing in the Lithuanian Basketball League, the Baltic Basketball League, and the Euroleague.
The team now known as Lietuvos Rytas began play as Statyba in 1964. Jonas Kazlauskas, Rimas Girskis, and then head coach Rimantas Endrijaitis led Statyba to win third place in the 1979 Soviet Union Championship. Three years later, Šarūnas Marčiulionis joined the team and became the leader. In 1987, Artūras Karnišovas joined the team at the age of 16. In 1997, the team was renamed to Lietuvos Rytas Statyba, then just Lietuvos Rytas as the club was bought by the Lithuanian newspaper Lietuvos Rytas. The newspaper's investment helped establish the club as one of the two best in Lithuania.
BC Lietuvos rytas are counting their thirteenth season. The yearbook of the club, founded in 1997, has since been filled with pages of triumph.
Lietuvos rytas has achieved its brightest victory in the international arena in 2005, when it won the second most prestigious European basketball trophy - ULEB Cup, which is now called the Eurocup. In 2007 the men from Vilnius reached the final of this tournament once again, where they were submitted to Madrid Real, but gained a pass to Euroleague.
The Vilnius team showed impressive results in elite competitions of the continent last season: they reached the Top 16 and were only a step short of the quarterfinal. That was the second most successful season of Lietuvos rytas in Euroleague: in 2005-2006 the Vilnius club had already reached the Top 16 of this tournament.
By the way, the young club Lietuvos rytas made its debut in the company of the strongest European teams - the Superleague - as far back as 2000. That year the basketball players from Vilnius had a hard time gathering momentum, but managed to beat through into the eight-finals.
This season of 2005-2006 is also exceptional in the yearbook of the team. Not only did Lietuvos rytas shine on all fronts - won the LKL champion title over from Žalgiris - but it also triumphed in the Baltic league tournament.
Throughout its history Lietuvos rytas has become the national champion three times. The Vilnius team gained this honourable title for the first time in the 1999-2000 season, when it overthrew the crowned champions of Lithuania - Žalgiris Kaunas. In the 2001-2002 season the men from Vilnius won the LKL tournament for the second time, and in the final of the open NEBL tournament broke the strongest Russian club Perm Ural Great.
Lietuvos rytas won the second champions' cup of the Baltic States in 2007. The trophy shelf includes the Lithuanian cup won in 1998.
There is no lack for other awards in the club's collection as well: the Vilnius team finished second in the tournaments of 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2008, and in 1998 they were third.
Lietuvos rytas is a private club, the cornerstone of its existence is donations of private sponsors. People believed in the idea of a powerful team in Vilnius. This is a merit of both Lietuvos rytas company as well as other supporters. They believed, and the club managers proved, that with smart work it is possible to build a powerful team. It is not done by throwing out large amounts of money at once and buying the best players, but by working gradually, by gold plating young Lithuanian talents with experienced foreign players.
It is difficult to count how many former players from Lietuvos rytas moved to the best teams of the world. Even though was really difficult to say goodbye to such stars as Arvydas Macijauskas, Šarūnas Jasikevičius, Ramūnas Šiškauskas, Robertas Javtokas and other brilliant basketball players, the Vilnius club maintained its high level. Excellent atmosphere formed in the team, which grew in spirit and energy. Good players can play and move to other teams, however all that they have achieved stays in the club as aura of victories and beautiful play.