Sunday, 24 March 2013

USA Lithuanian All Star Basketball team in Australia 1964


The idea of the American Lithuanian team was born in 1962 during the Sports festival by J Bačiunas (President of the World Lithuanian Communities) who was touring Australia at that time. Early in 1963 the Lithuanian Athletic Union of North America contacted the Federation of Australian Sports Clubs and these two bodies began planning a tour.  

The Manager of the USA team was Mr Vladas Adamkavičius (Adamkus, recent President of Lithuania) who had led them on a successful South American tour in 1959.  Adamkus was an all round sportsman but his successes were in athletics.  In 1949 he migrated to the USA and partook in Lithuanian community sports events.  He retired from sports in 1954 and turned his interests to sporting administration.  

The coach, Vytautas Grybauskas grew up playing basketball in Lithuanian and while he attended Vilnius University.  While in exile in Germany he was selected for a Lithuanian All Star Basketball Team that toured France in 1948.  He played exceedingly well and was given an opportunity to stay in France to play and coach.  In 1953 he moved to the USA and participated in basketball, tennis, table tennis and soccer.  He coached the South American tour of 1959.

Eleven players formed the All Star team, ageing from 18 to 28 years.  The tour to Australia lasted for a month with matches played in Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth and Tasmania.  

The Adelaide organising committee consisted of Jonas Jonavičius (Chairman), S. Urnevičius (Vice-Chairman), J. Pyragius (Vice-Chairman), Viktoras Baltutis (Secretary), and Robertas Sidabras (Treasurer).  Members were: A. Šliužas, G. Rakauskas, Balys Nemeika, A. Merūnas, Mrs Bronė Lapšys, Juozas Doniela, Juozas Lapšys, J. Jaunutis, Petras Andrijaitis, S. Milaknis, P. Lukošiunas, V. Jankauskas. 

To be continued.....

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