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  • Writer's pictureMāris Noviks

Like father, like daughter: welcome Šiauliai Vilmers!

Updated: Nov 9, 2022

Šiauliai-Vilmers is the fourth club from Lithuania, which will play in the European Women`s Basketball league.

Kibirkštis Vilnius played at the EWBL from 2015 until 2022.

The Sparks reached the playoffs four times (2017, 2018, 2021, 2022) and earned their first Final Four apperance in 2022.

Hoptrans Sirenos made its lone apperance at 2017-2018.

Kaunas team, coached by Mantas Šernius, qualified for the postseason and won its first playoff game against Horizont Minsk 83-81.

Sirenos suffered a 54-62 defeat at Minsk and lost the series with an aggregate score of 137-143.

Neptūnas Klaipeda debuted in the EWBL on October 28, 2022, with a 68-49 win against Latvian vice champion Rīga Stradiņš University.

Martynas Airošius team started the 2023 season with a 5-0 record across all competitions before suffering defeats at the hands of Polonia Warszawa and Levharti Chomutov.

Now it`s Šiauliai`s turn.

The Sun City last year debuted in the European North Basketball league.

Šiauliai men`s team, coached by a EuroBasket 2003 champion Antanas Sireika, reached the 2022 ENBL final.

Women`s team represented the Šiauliai University until 2019.

Two important developments followed.

Sun City girls joined the basketball club Šiauliai, while Romualdas Petronis took the coaching reins.

Petronis won the silver medal at the 2005 European U20 championship with Lithuanian young men.

He worked for many years at Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

Petronis led Astana Tigers to the bronze medal at the inaugural EWBL season in 2016.

He was a Virginijus Šeškus assistant at Prienai men`s team in 2018-2019.

Petronis new team kicked off the second Women`s Baltic Basketball league campaign with five straight losses, until posting its first ever WBBL win on November 30, 2019, at the Tallinn University 83-77.

Šiauliai added two more wins over Tartu University and RSU to finish the 2020 season with a 3-11 record.

The next WBBL season was cancelled and Šiauliai played at the Lithuanian Women`s basketball league only.

Last year Petronis shortly moved abroad, while Šiauliai returned to the WBBL with Tomas Keršis at helm.

This offseason Keršis moved to Valmiera and Petronis returned to the Sun City.

Former Šiauliai guards Dominyka Paliulytė and Katrīna Trankale this season play for TTT Rīga, while forwards Evelina Razgute and Justina Oficerovaitė transferred to Aistes LSMU Kaunas.

Šiauliai back court was formed around two young Lithuanins – guard Danguolė Pupkevičiūtė (born in 2004) and small forward Brigita Rimkevičiūtė (2005).

Pupkevičiūtė shares the ball with American guard Morgan Lenahan.

Lenahan played for the NCAA Division One team Wagner College (2016-2020).

She served the redshirt season (2016-2017) and missed the 2018-2019 season at the Big Apple due to injury.

Lenahan extended her NCAA career, by playing for the Division Two team Midwestern State University.

She was in the starting lineup of the Mustangs for all 27 games in the 2021-2022 season.

Šiauliai front court is cemented by a Latvian power forward Rūta Stiprā (Veidere).

Stiprā is a 2016 EWBL champion and a five time Latvian champion (2014-2018) with TTT Rīga.

She took maternity leave in 2021 and returned in a good form.

Stiprā gets help from Enrika Matiukaitė and Kamilė Berenytė.

Petronis is the father of Lithuania National team captain Gintarė Petronytė.

Center returned to Lithuania this summer after 13 seasons abroad.

Petronytė led Kibirkštis Vilnius to its first EuroCup Women win at Ankara Botaš two weeks ago.


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