Martynas Sajus (208-C-1996) is a 26 year old 208cm center playing his first season in Germany with medi Bayreuth. He began his basketball career with BC Zalgiris. He also has found experience playing in Poland and last season played in the Spanish ACB with BAXI Manresa averaging 6.2ppg, 3.1rpg, FGP: 62.7%, FT: 78.7%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career.
Thanks Martynas for talking to germanhoops.com. Your playing your first season in Germany for medi Bayreuth. What have you enjoyed most about the style of play and culture?
I like how are fans are really involved during games. I enjoy playing in the BBL. It is a very good level with many very good teams and players. It has been a real pleasure.
It has been a tough season for everyone in Covid times, but do you sometimes wonder how medi Bayreuth would have played together without all the Covid interruptions?
This is a big topic. We have had a tough season with everything that has happened. We had a bad losing streak. We want to finish the season with wins and not loses.
There were games where the team played only with a very slim rotation. Do you feel like head coach Raoul Korner got the most out of this season?
There was no choice. You just try to do the best you can with the rotations that you had in each game. We never knew how it would look like with Covid before each game. We had to learn to adapt. At the start of the season everything was easier. But with time with many Covid cases and injuries, it became harder because players had to find new roles and positions. It was as if we were starting all over again. It was never easy with the short rotations.
How crazy was the 92-91 loss in OT to BG Goettingen? You didn’t play. Sometimes adrenaline blinds the pain of the bones.
I think that was the case. We switched defenses a lot and they weren’t ready for it. Our aggressive play helped us all through out the game. In the end we were a bit unlucky as a three pointer was given as a two pointer. It was a tough loss, but it was nice to see how much we fought. We came back and almost won. It was crazy.
How vital was a guy like German center Andreas Seiferth in you being able to come to terms well with the style of the easyCredit BBL?
Andreas is a great guy. I learned a lot from him in the low post. It also helped my game a lot that I was always defending him. I saw some of the moves he had and took them into my game. In general he taught me a lot about how to play in the BBL.
Which Lithuanian players were your role models growing up and to what player would you compare your game too?
Robertas Javtokas who was a Lithuanian national player and Marc Gasol. My goal was always to become like Marc Gasol as a player.
You are playing your best personal season. Do you feel Covid played a big part this season for your success? You got a bigger role because of many injuries and Covid problems.
Coach had no option. With injuries I had a chance to play longer. I felt great with the minutes I got and didn’t feel any pressure. I took the opportunity for more minutes and did the best that I could. I thought my personal season was good, but as a team we had a tough season. We need to finish strong. It is not about us, but it’s about the fans and finishing strong for them.
You are still very young for the age of 26. How have you seen your development with Raoul Korner and where do you still want to go as a player?
I think my post moves got better. In Spain I played more pick and roll. Coach Korner trusted me and got me more shots. I also feel that my left hand has gotten better. I feel more confidence using it.
You have had some big offensive scoring games. Do you feel like you could become a big man that can average 13-15 points per season?
It is hard to say if that could happen. You find a different role with each team you play for. When you play for good team with good players then it is harder to score. I don’t know, but time will show. Of course I hope that it will happen.
Last season you played with BAXI Manresa (Spain-Liga Endesa): 30 games: 6.2ppg, 3.1rpg, FGP: 62.7%, FT: 78.7%. What did you learn from this season? It was up and down with playing time. In your last five games you played combined only 15 minutes.
I think key last season was using the practice time to my advantage. We had a very strict coach, but he taught me a lot about the pick and roll. The play in Spain is a lot quicker than in the BBL and I had to adapt to that. I’m big and heavy and had to run a lot more. I feel all the practices I had in Spain with my team helped me a lot and prepared me for the BBL.
You battled in practice every day with ex BBL veteran Scot Eatherton. What memories will you always have of him and did his stories of the BBL help you chose to come to Germany?
We were both very competitive each day in practice. He told me a lot about the BBL. I felt that from his talks that it could be my style and I could fit into that league. He made some impact in helping me make my decision to come to Germany.
You had a very strong game against FC Barcelona with 12/6 in a 23 point loss. What do you feel is still missing from your game to be able to play like that against top teams?
I think to be able to reach the next level, I need to work harder and get more confidence and keep working on my skills. I need to add more details to my moves, read the defense better and the rest will come with experience.
In 2019-2020 you returned back to your home land after a year in Poland to play for Panevezys Lietkabelis (Lithuania-LKL) averaging 9.2ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.2apg, Blocks-2 (1.3bpg), FGP: 62.4%, FT: 79.4%. How did you return back home as a player after a season in Poland?
It was nice to come back to Lithuania. We did well as a team. We reached the top 16 of the Basketball Champions League. For the budget we had it was a success. We had great players and head coach Nenad Canak liked me and allowed me to express myself.
How do you remember playing against BC Zalgiris? You scored 17 points. Was your motivation at an all-time high?
Of course I remember that game. I used my chance and scored a lot. But we lost so something was missing from that experience.
There you were reunited with Tomas Dimsa. He left BC Zalgiris in 2015 and played a season in Frankfurt where I saw him play on a regular basis. Is it fair to say he has taken on a slow development, but has continued to grow as a player?
He made a great progress there. And since has shown great results in his career. He also has played for the national team. Good things are happening to him. He will play in the Euroleague soon.
In 2018-2019 you played with King Szczecin (Poland-EBL) averaging 12.1ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.0apg, 1.2bpg, FGP: 57.6%, FT: 80.4%. Is it fair to say that this was your break out season? You had some good games and lost a tough playoff series to Polski Cukier.
I used the minutes I got and showed good results. The adjustment was easier, because I knew the coach. I got a lot of plays and had a good connection to the guards. We had a good season despite losing in the playoffs.
In 2017-2018 you returned back to B.C. Zalgiris Kaunas (LKL) averaging 3.4ppg, 2.1rpg. You played a lot for the second team putting up good stats and some Euroleague games. How disappointed were you of this season? Did the team give up on you?
It is hard to say. I had an injury at the start of the season and missed three months. When I came back, I was the third center. We reached the Final 4 of the Euroleague. Coach didn’t want to confuse the players by changing line ups. I used the chance in practice and gained valuable experience.
In 2016-2017 you played your first time away from home with Polpharma Starogard Gdanski (Poland-TBL) averaging 9.9ppg, 6.3rpg, Blocks-4 (1.2bpg), FGP: 59.0%, FT: 68.7%. What do you remember being your wake up call to being away from home where you knew that you were very far away from home?
I was scared a bit. I had never been in Poland before. But the coach was also Lithuanian. I knew it would be easier even if I did mistakes. He showed me from the start that he was prepared to help me. Also there was another Lithuanian player there that helped. I enjoyed my time there and was able to get good minutes.
You began your basketball career with BC Zalgiris. How important were your early years with his organization? How do you feel did your game grow further there?
The club gave young guys almost everything you need to be successful. The conditions were excellent. We even lived in the gym. It couldn’t be better. I can’t say anything bad about the experience. It was a great level of preparation for young players. There were great coaches there and they gave great advice and the level of practice was good. I could use all that experience when I left.
You played twice against Real Madrid and once against Luka Doncic in 2015. Did you know anything about him? He didn’t score in the game. Could you see something special in his game?
Probably not. That game is hard to remember. When he began to dominate in Europe everybody began to look at him. Now the whole world is looking at him.
Almost 6 years ago you played a U-20 game against Germany losing 78-77. In that game Kostja Mushidi had 21 points. He thought he was going to the NBA. He then had many lows and is back in the easyCredit BBL again with MBC. Was it strange playing against him again?
To be honest, I don’t remember him. I only remember that we lost that game. It was an important game, but we still went to the final and lost to Spain. I play against many players, so it is difficult to remember every player. I usually remember the centers.
You recently played a World Cup qualifying game. What is the state of Lithuanian basketball heading into the 2022 Euro Championships. Lithuania has always had talented big men. Will there ever be hope for you when you have guys like Sabonis and Valanciunas?
You never know which players will be there with COVID and what happens during the summer. If I get chosen, I go. It is always nice to play for your country.
Who was the toughest player that you ever faced on the court that made the NBA?
I would say Brandon Davies who was my teammate at Zalgiris. Now he plays for FC Barcelona. It never looked like he could do much, but he could always score. He was tough to defend as was Eddie Tavares.
Please name your five best teammates of all-time?
The Euroleague Final 4 team of BC Zalgiris.
Please name your NBA Mount Rushmore?
Hakeem, Gasol brothers, Lebron, Jokic and Luka Doncic
Is Luka Doncic a top 5 NBA player now and will he be the best one day?
Yes and he just needs time.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The office. I like comedy.
Thanks Martynas for the chat.