Bank of Lithuania
Commemorative coin

Celebrating 100 years of Basketball in Lithuania

Proginė moneta

The year 2000 is the year marking the centenary of basketball in Lithuania. The first basketball competition in Lithuania and the beginning of the national basketball in general is considered to be the match between the Lithuanian Union of Physical Education (LUPT) and the team of the Provisional Capital (Kaunas) on 23 April 1922, and won by the LUPT at a score 8:6. What is more, Lithuania is closely associated with an even earlier period in the history of basketball. Basketball was invented in the late 19th century by an American physical educator, physician, James Naismith, and was soon adapted to be played by women. On 22 March 1893 in the US, the first game of women’s basketball was played between the first- and second-year students at the Smith College in Boston. The game was organised and its rules were adapted to suit women by Senda Valvrojenski Berenson Abbott, who was born in Butrimonys, Alytus region, and retreated to the USA with her family when still a child. Senda Berenson Abbott’s elder brother, Bernard Berenson, is one of the most famous art historians of all time.

Proginė moneta

This story illustrates that Lithuanian basketball played an important role in the development of the type of sport, throughout its existence. Lithuanian players contributed to the laying the foundations for a national success on the basketball court in several countries. In Lithuania basketball was always an important part of culture, a specific social phenomena and part of politics. Right before the World War II, Lithuanian basketball men teams became European champions twice (1937 and 1939), in 1938, the Lithuanian women’s basketball teams were second in the continent. In the displaced persons’ camps for World War II refugees basketball was a way of retaining the memories of the homeland, Lithuania. Valdas Adamkus, who later became the second President of Lithuania when its Independence was reinstated was also staying in one of those camps.

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During the Soviet times, being a Lithuanian was also inseparable from basketball. Although Lithuanian talents weren’t able to play under their own flag, eventually basketball became one of the reasons for the national revival, when Kaunas Žalgiris victories against CSKA Moscow in 1980s were perceived by the nation as the victories achieved by Lithuania itself.

Proginė moneta

During in the Soviet times Lithuania managed to retain its identity despite the oppression, and finally reinstated its independence. As an independent state it pursued a mission to make Lithuania’s name known again worldwide. In 1992 in Barcelona, in the first Olympic Games after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Lithuania men’s national basketball team received international praise, won one of the two Olympic medals, and was dubbed the Other Dream Team. Lithuanian basketball players that who were already famous worldwide for successful careers while playing for the Soviet Union’s team, were doing much more than just showing off their talents on the basketball court. The bronze medal that they won playing against the Unified Team, made up of the post-Soviet states, acted as a declaration to the world that Lithuania was back on the map.

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Subsequently Lithuanian basketball team won two additional Olympic medals, one medal in the Basketball World Cup and five in the European Basketball Championships. Lithuanian women’s national basketball team became the Eurobasket winners in 1997, and the men’s team won the EuroBasket for the third time in 2003. Lithuania’s basketball clubs have also, and for a number of times, shown the country’s exceptional basketball skills in international tournaments. The outstanding achievements of national basketball teams go hand in hand with the special place basketball holds in the hearts of people of all walks of life.

Proginė moneta

Ignas Grinevičius
Illustrated by Aurimas Simanavičius

 

Coin celebrating 100 years of Basketball in Lithuania

Denomination:
€2
Composition:
outer part: CuNi, inner part: CuZnNi/Ni/CuZnNi
Diameter:
25.75 mm
Weight:
8.50 g
Designed by
Egidijus Rapolis (national side), Luc Luycx (common side)
On the edge of the coin
LAISVĖ * VIENYBĖ * GEROVĖ (FREEDOM * UNITY * WELL-BEING)
Proginė moneta
Release date
21 April 2022
Mintage
750,000 pcs, including 7,500 BU-quality coins in a numismatic package
Coin price
BU quality – EUR 9.00 (inclusive of VAT), UNC quality – exchanged according to denomination
Minted at
the Lithuanian Mint

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