The Craziest Olympic Events, Part 2/5 – Lithuania’s Break With the Past27th Jul 2016 |
In present day Lithuania, basketball is considered by most sports fans to be a second religion. In a country with a history of great religious diversity, it seems everyone can at least agree about this second religion.
It all started when the country represented the Soviet Union, one of the greatest Olympic nations in the history of the games. In Seoul, 1988, the Soviet basketball team won the gold medal. All of the four top scorers of the team was of Lithuanian nationality, and they were widely accepted as the team’s top performers.
In 1992, things had changed. Lithuania now had an independent basketball team to go with their own country, and they had shocked the world by defeating previous silver medallists, Italy, by a very large margin in the European Championship the year before. They lost very clearly to the USA in the semi-final of the Olympics, but that only meant that they were ready for the sporting event of the century for Lithuania: A bronze final against The United Team of Independent States. This team consisted of all the former Soviet Republics, sans Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The time had come for Lithuania to show the world that they were the new force to reckoned with in international basketball, and they ended up beating their former teammates in a very tight game.
Today the Lithuanian men’s basketball team holds 3rd place on the FIBA Ranking.