Sarunas Vasiliauskas was finally able to provide quality back up minutes for Janavicius in this European Championship, after being left off the Lithuanian U-19 squad. And just as he did a couple of years ago at the U-16 stage and this past season with Zalgiris, he proved once again to be an excellent player to bring off the bench, not as creative as his countryman, but more under control and with better perimeter shooting ability. Still, he was pretty erratic in this championship (particularly in the two final and decisive games), but hes a decent gunner out to the three-point line while enjoying off the dribble skills on his release. Also a nice ball-handler, he can attack both ways and finish with floaters near the basket in order to overcome his limited size. The Lithuanian point guard stands only 6-2, hes not a great leaper and hes physically underdeveloped.
Sabonis Basketball School lined up four players from last years U16 European Championship, where Lithuania finished one step away from the medals. The hosts maintained a deep roster, from which Sarunas Vasiliauskas had the most significant role during the Sabonis Cup and earned himself MVP honors for his efforts. He also tied for being the best scorer with 19.6 points per game.
The first glance at Vasiliauskas creates an image that a player with his body couldnt do much on the floor. Listed at 6-2, Sarunas doesnt look that tall, because of his small frame and skinny arms. However, since he enters the court the picture starts changing significantly. Vasiliauskas is a steady point guard with nice ball-handling skills. It is hard to remember any turnovers in dribble-drive situations as he controls the ball equally well with his either hand. He is lightning quick and looks like a fish in the water in fast-breaks. Sarunas basketball IQ is extremely high. He has good court-vision and even showed nifty stuff such as a full-court bounce pass for an easy 2 points on a few occasions.
Anyway, we cant call Vasiliauskas a classic pass-first point guard as he is at his best with the ball in his hands. That for sure isnt the sign of selfishness or poor playmaking, Sarunas always has his teammates in mind and controls the game well, but he is the most effective slashing to the basket. His poor frame doesnt stop him from driving in and its quite a sight to see him finish in traffic. It might be a coincidence, but despite being right-handed he seemed to prefer going to his left more often, always creating turmoil for opponents in the paint. Vasiliauskas has the willingness to go all the way to the basket and uses the glass well, attacking with either hand from close distances. His shot isnt a weakness either. Sarunas can score from midrange by pulling up off the dribble as well as from beyond the arc. He showed superb efficiency from the free throw line, and without a doubt he was the most often guest there.
As you can imagine for a guy with such a frame, defense is sometimes a concern. Vasiliauskas tried to pick his position cleverly, but a few times fighting through screens was difficult for him. We also could notice that on the final day Sarunas had an off night (probably being tired after having such a large amount of minutes playing 6 games in 4 days) and sometimes that frustrated him, resulting in a few bad decisions. Looking towards the future, the biggest question relates to how the strengths he showed in the Sabonis Cup will translate into mens basketball with opponents being tougher and more mature.