Gilvydas Biruta from Jonava town, returned to his homeland Lithuania after nine years of travelling around the world (Sweden, Spain, USA), and since this week he has been toiling away with “Neptūnas” basketball players. “I am trying to remember the way to “Švyturys” arena, stadium, and training hall. Everything is new for me”, the 23-year-old basketballer says.
More than a month ago, in the summer league of NBA, representing the “Denver Nuggets’ team, competing G. Biruta was not too much distressed for not getting to NBA; however, he does not intend to refuse this dream.
“Things happened as it is. To get to NBA – is the dream of each basketballer. It is the top of the basketball player’s career. I am young, I have life in front of me. I will refuse this dream only when I will not be able to throw a ball into a basket and to run on my feet. As far as I can, I will be working hard, trying to improve and rise up”, the ambitious player spoke.
G. Biruta emphasized that it is not important that he is not from Klaipėda; nevertheless, his heart is with Klaipėda, and he will give it for the basketball fans of this city.
“I promise that I will fight for Klaipėda as if a real citizen of this city, as if born and grown up next to the lighthouse", a 203-cm-tall player told.
What is your impression after first training of “Neptūnas”?
So far we haven’t taken the ball into hands, instead we have worked hard in the training hall and central stadium of Klaipėda. The first impression is really positive. I like the work of physical training coach of “Neptūnas” club, Benas Kentra.
Have you already talked to the coach, Darius Adomaitis, what position you will be assigned in the team?
No, we haven’t had a possibility to talk about it. Now we do physical workout during training.
Which players of "Neptūnas" do you communicate more often? Whom have you made a closer relationship with?
From the youth national team times I know Arnas Butkevičius, so we have communicated more during recent days. Also, with the "Neptūnas" legionnaire Jerai Grant. He has arrived from Washington, and I spent much time during recent summers there. So there are many common topics to talk.
Where have you settled yourself in Klaipėda? What impression does the city makes on you?
In the center of the city, next to Klaipėda Marriage Palace. Klaipėda is a nice city. It’s convenient – everything is rather close. I don’t know Klaipėda well so far; I happened to stay here only when we had training with youth national teams. I need more time to get to know streets, roads, etc. On weekend I am planning to move to Smiltynė with by ferry. I need to explore beautiful places of the seaside. Food in Lithuania is very tasty. It is hard to reject Cepelinai, Samogitian pancakes and other traditional Lithuanian dishes. However, I cannot taste too much, I need to fend for myself, to keep good physical condition, so I have to say “no” for such food more and more often.
You spent recent seven years in the USA. Remember, how did you steer to the USA?
For many America has always been the country of dreams, on the other hand, I always liked new languages, cultures, experience. In the beginning we came to Sweden with my mother. I was just 14 then. But basketball in this country was not the sports number one; so I turned my way to Spain, and later went to study to the USA.
What studies did you complete there?
I have acquired to Bachelor degrees: public relations and rhetoric, and writing. I have no problems with the English language really. Now sometimes I have to force myself to remember one or another more difficult Lithuanian phrase, sometimes I want to pronounce it in English, but nevertheless, I will get used.
I learned many true-life things in America, and it opened my eyes. I have never been of those who surrender. Life beyond the Atlantic Ocean has taught lessons that I would never replace into anything else. Also, I got acquainted with people who became a great part of my life.
I’ve heard that some teams have been interested in you; why have you chosen namely “Neptūnas”?
It is a high level club, which will compete not only in the championship of the Lithuanian Basketball League, but also European Cup tournament. For me, who completed the studies recently, it is an excellent chance to reveal myself.
I’ve heard many good opinions about the coach of “Neptūnas”, Dainius Adomaitis, also, nine year have passed since I was in Lithuania. Finally, my close people will have opportunities to watch matches from a tribune, instead of watching in the morning how I play.
I have also been interested in the Lithuanian Basketball League. Sometimes I watched which NCAA players, the Lithuanian clubs made contracts with, how my friends are doing. Next season I will have to compete against teams which I supported when I was a kid. It will be funny.
This summer you tried yourself at training of the NBA teams, Denver “Nuggets” and Washington “Wizards”. What is your impression about that?
“Nuggets” camp shall remain in my memories for the rest of my life. I am fascinated both with work of coaches and guys who might be more arrogant. But they are real professionals and kept good atmosphere during the whole work. Although I had not contract with “Nuggets”, I spent quite a lot of minutes during matches when I did what I could. I am content with myself – summer league gave much confidence in myself. HQ of coaches made a great impression on me. I haven’t seen so many professionally working coaches.
Gilvydas Biruta won bronze medals with the Lithuanian cadet (up to 16 years) national team of the European Championship in 2007, in 2008 he became a vice-champion of the European youth (up to 18 years). Later the basketballer who came from Jonava, studied in America and represented the "Rhode Island Rams" team of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Last season he spent 20.8 minutes on the ground, scored 8.1 points, and made 4.6 rebounds per match on average. During the season of 2013-2014, time spent on the ground was almost 26 min., average score of 10.6 points, 7 rebounds. The player graduated from Rhode Island University this year.
This summer he participated in NBA summer league representing the "Denver Nuggets" team.
Author of the article - Paulius Matulevičius