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Alvark Tokyo’s new commander, Danius Admitis’ coach philosophy “Play smart with discipline and passion”-Basketball Count |

Now off, Alvark Tokyo has been in command for five seasons, with two-time league champion Luka Pavićević retired. At the end of a cycle, a lot of attention was paid to who would take the lead in the new era, and Lithuanian-born 48-year-old Danius Admitis became the new head coach. When he was active, he won the bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics as a representative of Lithuania, and as a leader, he also served as the head coach of his home country at the 2019 World Cup. I asked him what kind of team he would like to build in Lithuania before coming to Japan.

“Alvark Tokyo is a team with great potential, so I’m not worried.”

――Please tell us the reason why you chose A Tokyo as a new world while you have a solid track record in Europe. Also, how much did you know about the B League before this offer came?

First of all, I chose Alvark Tokyo because it is a team with great ambitions and a very good reputation. The B League is seen around me as the league is evolving year by year. For two years, I’ve been talking about the B League with European officials. At the time, they signed high-priced contracts with players who were playing in the EuroLeague and the Eurocup, which made more people interested. I also followed some players playing in the B League. It is a league with great potential.

–A Did you know anything about Tokyo?

A Tokyo team name, Luka (Pavićević) is the head coach. I also know players who have played in the past, such as (Milco) Bjelica. And with the offer, I was able to get more detailed information, all of which was great. He is of the same generation as Luka, and has fought many games during his active career. Also, when he became a coach and led the second team of Lithuania, he also coached the second team of the national team and met many times. I’m not a friend, but I have acquaintance.

――Are you worried about leaving Europe and moving to Japan, which has a very different environment than before?

A Tokyo is a team with great potential, so I’m not worried. And by gaining a different experience, I think I can be a better basketball coach and a human being. I once visited Japan at the 1995 Universiade Fukuoka Convention. At that time, Lithuania had been independent of the Soviet Union for about five years, and we were still a young country. Japan was very different from us, and many things were shocking. The tournament was well organized and everything was on time and perfect. The staff were very enthusiastic about their work and were impressed with their willingness to help us even if they didn’t speak much English. Also, although I wasn’t the main player on the team, I got the attention of the people in the city. When four or five athletes around 200 cm were acting, I was asked to take a picture. I was very surprised because no one in Lithuania does that. Of course, I was also impressed that the people were very kind.

――A The hometown of Tokyo is Tokyo. What kind of image do you have?

Lithuania is a country with a population of 2.8 million, but I hear that there are 30 million in Tokyo and surrounding cities alone. I talked to a friend who had been to Tokyo a few years ago and found that it’s a very big city and it’s a completely different place in Tokyo and Lithuania. There are many wonderful museums and historic sites, and a friend said, “You can get anything in Tokyo.” I like to go to new lands and learn the country and language. The place where I work is still the gymnasium. There are times when I can’t go out even on off days, but I’m looking forward to living in a beautiful and big city like Tokyo.

Danius Admitis

“The important thing is to take pressure as a challenge and motivate yourself.”

――Please tell us what you value in team building and your own basketball philosophy when you lead A Tokyo from now on.

Basketball is both simple and difficult. All coaches must adjust to take advantage of their individual characteristics. The important thing is to use our advantage. It’s not easy to put it into practice as a team, but players can enjoy playing if they know what to do. And my philosophy is to play smartly on the court with discipline and passion.

――What is your impression of Japanese basketball?

When I was playing for the national team, I fought several friendly matches with the Japanese national team. I remember well that many players scored 3-point shots. Lithuania at that time was a team with little speed, so I had a hard time when I played against Japan, which has speed and hits many 3-point shots. I have seen some Japanese players through international competitions such as the World Cup and friendly matches. There are very talented players, and I think the representative is a team with potential.

–A Daiki Tanaka, the main pillar of Tokyo, has been playing for a long time as a representative of Japan. Do you remember seeing his play?

I don’t remember exactly which tournament it was, but I’ve seen Daiki play for the national team. He is an all-rounder and makes good decisions to make good shots. He is a player who can do various things such as being energetic and able to play smartly. So it’s no surprise that he’s been playing at A Tokyo for nine years and I think he’s a big part of the team. He needs to communicate well with all the players, of course. However, first of all, I think it is important to get information on what kind of team A Tokyo has formed from Daiki and Alex (Kirk) who have been enrolled for a long time.

–The other day, Sebastian Size played for Spain in Window 3 of the World Cup qualifying.

I was watching his play. I made a mistake in the match against Ukraine (winning 77-76), but Spain won by scoring a block in the final play. It was a very big play. He demonstrates energy in both offense and defense. He has extensive experience in international competitions, is physically good and can bring something different to the team from other players.

――A Tokyo is a big club that is nominated for victory every season. Is there any pressure to lead a team that is expected to achieve great results from the first year in office?

Until now, as a player and coach, I have been on a team that is always taking on big challenges to win the championship. My basketball life has always been a journey towards the pinnacle, and I think that’s what it should be. You need to set big goals instead of small ones, and even if you can’t reach them, your experience of aiming for heights will help you in the next season. The season is long, and there are many ups and downs, such as when a disabled player or a sick player comes out and needs patience. In order to overcome that, it is important to have a vision for fighting. And, as I said earlier, one of the reasons I chose Alvark is because I have great ambitions.

When it comes to pressure, I don’t think professional basketball is a big pressure job. There are other jobs that are under greater pressure, such as those who work in hospitals. There is pressure from fans, owners and other people involved in the team to win the league and the cup, but this is normal. The important thing is to take pressure as a challenge and motivate yourself.

――Finally, do you have a message for your fans?

I think it is important for the players to play with passion, not only for me but also for the fans. I like teams that play with their feelings in the foreground, and I have to be very determined in the match. We promise to our fans for 40 minutes to create a team that will put out all of their strength on the court. I hope everyone will enjoy it.

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