Donatas Zavackas is a 31 year old 203cm forward from Lithuania that recently played for EnBW Ludwigsburg. He is a hard nosed and very versatile player, with good on 1-on-1 offensive skills; excels in game without the ball, and runs the court very well; shoots well from the distance, and defense well, thanks to a strong body can play in the two forward positions. He played at Pittsburgh (NCAA) from 1998-2003 reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2002 and 2003. He has played in countries like Italy, France, Spain, Lithuania and Poland. He played for Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius from 2008-2010 winning Lithuanian League Champion and the cup twice in 2009 and 2010 and also winning the Eurocup in 2010. Last season for EnBW Ludwigsburg, he played 27 games: 12.5ppg, 5.7rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 41.7%, 3PT-2(49.5%), FT-3(88.5%). He spoke to German Hoops about basketball before he left EnBW Ludwigsburg..
Is it possible to stop a Jermareo Davidson without double teaming him?
It is always possible to stop any player on any night. There will be some nights where one player is better than another. We were unable to control him in the first half, but he didn´t do much in the second half. It is always good to keep a strong player under his average.
EnBW Ludwigsburg started off well winning three of the first four games including big wins at home against Oldenburg and Bremerhaven. Then the team sustained a big losing streak. What were the reasons for this?
We have good players and a good coaching staff and we won games with a good advantage, but the games we lost were very close and winnable. We tend to lose confidence in tight situations when things aren´t going right.
Was Markus Jochum unable to reach his players at the end?
When a team wins then the players win and when a team loses then the coach loses. Last season, we started slow, but finished strong and almost reached the playoffs. It would be unfair to give him the blame for the loses. Basketball is a team sport. We played and lost the games and the coach is there to help us. It was a tough situation and management decided to make a move.
What is a strength of head coach Steven Key?
He has his own basketball philosophy. I hope that he can bring us back to a winning streak.
Why did you like playing in Ludwigsburg.
I like the weather and we don’t get too much snow. We have great fans who support us and I like the town.
You are a very good one on one player and move well without the ball. How did you learn these qualities?
I have to be thankful for all the coaches I have had in my career. My first coach in Lithuania and my coach at Pittsburgh really helped me. Basketball is always a learning process and you never stop to learn the game of basketball.
How many three point shots do you take a day in practice?
I take about 150-200 shots in the morning and another 50-60 at night.
What is the most amazing thing that you have seen Mark Dorris do on the court?
He is a very special young player and competiting is in his nature. He does so many amazing things.
At the start of the season, you were playing with Terrell Harris and now he is playing with Lebron James in the NBA. Can he stick in the NBA?
If he is in the NBA, then he surely can play at that level. Every player dreams to play in the NBA and going from Ludwigsburg to Miami is like a dream. But these things happen in the NBA. He is a special talented kid and I wish him the best.
What was your childhood like in Lithuania?
It was a normal childhood where I started to play basketball at age eight or nine. Basketball is number one in my country so it was only natural I would play basketball since we love basketball.
Who were your basketball idols?
The famous players from Lithuania.
You played at Pittsburgh from 1998-2003. Was this a difficult decision for you to make?
It wasn´t easy, because it is never easy to leave your home town and family. But my parents and I made the decision that it would be best for me to go and play basketball and get an education.
What do you remember from going to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2002 and 2003?
Just experiencing the atmosphere at March Madness is something you see once in a lifetime. The media coverage was great and the fans supported us so much. Something like 5,000-6,000 fans came to one game to support us.
You have played in countries like France, Italy, Poland, Spain and Lithuania. Where have you liked it most?
It is always best when you play at home and can play in front of family and friends.
You played together with Chevon Troutman at Pittsburgh. Do you have a funny story about him?
He was always funny and just a great kid. However, I don’t remember any story from back then.
You played together with Chuck Eidson who is playing with FC Barcelona. Why isn´t he in the NBA?
That is hard to say. He is very talented, but I am no NBA general manager. He has had injuries and maybe teams have been scared away by that.
What were the most number of free throws that you have made in a row in practice?
We usually have to take 50 free throws each practice and last week I went 50/50.
What was the most crazy shot that you made in a game?
In high school, there were a few seconds to play and I got a rebound and just threw a shot from the other three point line and it went in.
What would you like to do after your basketball career?
After playing basketball for 15-20 years, you want to stay close to basketball. Basketball has been close to my heart and I would like to stay close to basketball.
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
I read a lot and the last book I read was Breaking Point from Sandra Brown.
Thanks Donatas for the chat.