Sirvydis keeps etching his name in annals of Rytas history

Jan 24, 2018 by David Hein, Print
Sirvydis keeps etching his name in annals of Rytas history

Deividas Sirvydis has already etched his name in the annals of Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius history. But the star talent can add another mark as the first player to lead the U18 team to the title at the Euroleague Basketball ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT Kaunas, which he did as the captain and MVP. Sirvydis led Rytas in scoring with 17.0 points a game to go with 3.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.0 steals as Rytas knocked off U18 Stellazzurra Rome in the ANGT Kaunas final to book its ticket to the ANGT Finals in Belgrade in May.

"It's an amazing feeling," said Sirvydis, who recorded 16 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals in the final against Stellazzurra. As was winning the MVP trophy: "It means a lot. A lot of great players from throughout Europe have played here and won the MVP title. It's the best thing I've ever had."

It was Sirvydis's third time playing in the ANGT after the 2016 ANGT Finals in Berlin and ANGT Kaunas last year, where he played just one game and then returned home because he was sick. So, he was extra excited to play and win the title this time.

"We wanted to win the tournament and we won the tournament and now we are going to Belgrade. And we will have the same goal," Sirvydis exclaimed.

The goal will be to help Rytas to its second-ever ANGT continental title following the crown in 2012 in Istanbul. And a championship would give Sirvydis a leg up on one of the club's biggest names - Jonas Valanciunas. The star center came up just short of winning the ANGT title in 2009 at the Final Four in Berlin, where Rytas lost to U18 FMP in the ANGT championship game.

Sirvydis has already eclipsed Valanciunas in two other aspects. The 2.00-meter guard made his Lithuanian LKL league debut on May 29, 2017, days before his 17th birthday, surpassing Valanciunas as the youngest player in Rytas history to play in the LKL. And on December 5, 2017, Sirvydis got into Rytas's 7DAYS EuroCup game against Partizan NIS Belgrade, which saw him overtake Valanciunas as the club's youngest debutant in the EuroCup.

The personable Sirvydis laughs when those facts are brought up. "I feel good. Valanciunas is a big star in the NBA and I was younger than him."

While many see a bright future for the youngster, Sirvydis's past was spent as a young globetrotter around Europe with his basketball-playing father. Virginijus Sirvydis was playing in Vilnius for Sakalai when Deividas was born in 2000. But the wingman father spent Deividas's young days bouncing around Europe, playing three years in Russia, two years in Germany and one season each in Cyprus and the Czech Republic.

"It was kind of fun," Deividas recalls of his time in other countries. But the younger Sirvydis really can't remember much specifically. And what about watching his father play? "Not really. I was a little boy and was sleeping during the games. After the games I could dribble and shoot on the court though," said Sirvydis, who would do the same at his father's practices.

It was those practices and after-game settings that brought Deividas into the game, which he began to play in earnest at around 7 years of age. And there was always his father to talk about the game. After retiring in 2012, Virginijus became a coach and is currently the assistant coach at LKL team Pieno Zvaigzdes Pasvalys.

"He gives me some advice. He watches every game and after each game, he talks to me and tells me what I did wrong," Deividas said.

What definitely was not wrong in Sirvydis's eyes was signing a long-term contract with Rytas. "It's everything. I was born in Vilnius and I want to play in Vilnius," he said.

And Sirvydis is already steeped in the tradition of Lithuanian basketball and talks of Zalgiris Kaunas as the archrivals, making it all the better to win the club's first ANGT qualifying tournament title since ANGT Siauliai 2013.

"It's the best feeling. All the time it's like the clasico, Rytas and Zalgiris. And we won the championship in Kaunas."

Just another mark for Sirvydis in the annals of Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius history.