After a back-and-forth first half, the blue-and-white once again used a big third quarter to pull away for good. Deni Avdija dominated the game for Israel with 16 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals, Raz Adam scored 17 points and Eidan Alber checked in with 16 points in the win. Lucas Uleckas led Lithuania with 23 points in the loss.
Former American players say the rural Lithuanian town where the two teens have signed to play is like living on a farm.
No restaurants, no malls, but hey, no traffic congestion. It's the ultimate life of going to practice and back to the hotel. Seskus, also the unofficial general manager of the Balls' new team, Prienai Vytautas, has almost free rein to run the club as he sees fit. He took the club from the Lithuanian minor league to the major domestic league, the LKL, and "he's like a God out there," according to one prominent European agent.
Seskus sports an unpredictable temper, according to his former players. He ditches practices early, sometimes has his teams play soccer instead of training and has pulled his players off the court mid-game, a tactic LaVar Ball used in an AAU game over the summer. I don't care if you're a rookie or a vet, he's hard to play for.
He was always yelling and cursing for no reason, even at the locals.
If he coaches the same, those boys LiAngelo and LaMelo will be home within a month. Some players actually bought that stuff from him. In October, he got ejected and took his team off the floor, forfeiting the game. Just like LaVar. Ball boys will fit right in.
He doesn't speak English, and his former players noted he doesn't make any attempts.
The club's sports director, Adomas Kubilius, is not concerned. After talking to more than a dozen people who have come in contact with the club, an even more troubling picture of the team takes shape. It's been behind on multiple checks and salaries to agents and players both this season and many before.
This past offseason, former Vanderbilt guard Bradley Tinsley became Vytautas' first American signing in over a decade, but he was out a month into the season after averaging just 7. Money issues may not be a concern for the Balls, say sources, who believe the brothers signed for free, without earning players' salaries.
Didn't watch videos. The deal, signed through June, includes a mutual out clause in February, one month after the Balls' arrival, should either side feel necessary to end the partnership.
Kubilius made clear that signing the Balls has less to do with basketball than marketing. Teammates also see "off-court" opportunities with the arrival of the Balls. Tomas Dimsa, a 6'6" forward, is auctioning off his season membership to games on his Facebook page.
His 6'8" teammate in the frontcourt, Justas Sinica, responded to the post, saying the auction begins Dec. What awaits them in Lithuania is an experience somewhat similar to a college atmosphere, assuming they live among their teammates.
At their residence, players each have their own " junior apartments " that are provided free of charge thanks to a partnership agreement between the team and the resort.
Meals aren't free, however.
And winning over their teammates may not be as easy as walking into the locker room with a famous name. Maybe I'll change my mind once I see them, but at the moment, I'm not really thinking about them.
I saw LaMelo's videos, but I haven't seen him playing against men. He will get an opportunity here to show us his worth.
When LaMelo gets hit with one of those screens, he might not be able to stand up. Those guys are bangers, Lithuanians play like it's a UFC match. If Vegas put a line on the Balls' over-under in Lithuania, I think they'd break it off after a month.
Maybe it does work, I'm not hating on the kids, but the odds are stacked against them. David Pick is a veteran pro basketball reporter covering overseas hoops and American players abroad since Facebook Logo.