Jasikevicius: “At Barcelona it seemed that we were not all united” | Basketball | Sports

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Jasikevicius, before last year’s League playoff final.Juanjo Martín (EFE)

His Barça fell in the semi-final of the last Euroleague with Madrid, in a duel to forget, but managed to recompose the locker room to win the League, a resounding and expressive 3-0 in the final series against the same white team. Days later, however, the Barça club decided to dispense with Sarunas Jasikevicius (Kaunas, Lithuania; 48 years old), who choked on the resolution, but did not say a word, dismayed because the entity did not accept his requests nor pretend to listen to them. tied as it was economically. The coach chose to take some time off, to go to the NBA to watch games. But he received an offer from Fenerbahçe at the last minute and he packed his bags, even though his family stayed in Barcelona. And after beating Madrid in the WiZink a week ago, he went to Movistar to get even. “Like any big club, it is a complicated club. I was very disappointed with my bosses because of how I treated them. I have suffered a lot internally and sometimes it seemed that we were not all together,” the coach resolves, while Barça prefers not to enter the fray. It is not, in any case, the first time that Saras leaves the Palau angry.

After three seasons as a Barça player and after winning the Euroleague in 2003, a team led by Dejan Bodiroga along with Juan Carlos Navarro – now manager of the club’s basketball area, one of its bosses along with Mario Bruno Fernández–, Jasikevicius did not accept the lower offer from Barça, who in the previous days decided not to unilaterally execute his renewal and did sign, for example, Roger Grimau, his now replacement on the Barça bench . The decision not to pay him what he demanded, however, was indigestible to the then Lithuanian point guard, who went through Israel and the NBA to, at the end of his career, return to the Palau in 2012 for a course. He won the Cup and reached the Final Four European, always applauded by the fans. Saras, idol of the orange ball, wanted to continue. Not Barça, so the player returned to Lithuania, where he scored his last points and gave his first orders from the technical area. Already trained, in 2020 he signed as Barça coach.

With Josep Maria Bartomeu as president – ​​he came to office after being Joan Laporta’s strong man in basketball – the area gained color and momentum, a team that had to dominate Europe with the cherry on top of Nikola Mirotic, the highest paid player in history with close to 11 million gross and a contract that would increase in the following two years. Too much for Barça, which at the end of last season was financially limited since the sections, that did not generate enough resources to amortize the investments, had to reduce the wage bill by 20%, condemning the club for the guarantees it had to face and, above all, for the fair play financial required by LaLiga. Mirotic’s departure was announced ahead of time and Jasikevicius grimaced. “Doing that at that time was not serious, it was not for a big club,” Saras summarizes for Movistar. But neither with him nor with Mirotic nor with anyone else, Barça could renew the laurel of the Euroleague. And that weighed on the sports management as well, which was not satisfied with the two cups and two Leagues, in addition to three steps in the Final Four European with Saras on the bench. “We played wonderful basketball if you don’t take into account that we didn’t win the Euroleague, which was everyone’s dream. I think we should be proud,” the Lithuanian clarifies.

It turns out that Jasikevicius earned 3.5 million annually, a figure that was far from the million that the entity had budgeted for the position. “I rejected the first offer and they didn’t make the second one. Thank you and see you to the best of times,” the technician says. “Renewing it was a priority for us, we thought that he was the ideal technician to continue with this project,” they now clarify from the hallways of the Palau; “but no agreement was reached.” Although there was fine print to read. More than anything because Jasikevicius was not satisfied with the economic, but he also wanted to act as sports director, which is why he collided head-on with Juan Carlos Navarro, who lamented that the coach wanted to dominate all areas. “I wanted to sign,” slips a Barça source; “being above the sports structure in these types of decisions.” And Barça did not go through there, which is why they did not present him with the second offer. “I didn’t like the project,” Jasikevicius accepts; “But one of the things that hurt is that these people I worked with put things out to the press, held meetings with journalists… That hurt me a lot and it’s not serious,” laments the coach, while the club denies that those alleged leaks or meetings with the media occurred.

“The disappointment is enormous, without a doubt. The bad treatment continues right now, these days it has continued, on my family… One day I will speak clearly, but I don’t want to do more damage,” added the coach, without going into details, from WiZink. He was referring, it is understood, to the treatment received by his son, a player in the club’s youth ranks. His version is categorically rejected in the club; and they explain that his son’s captaincy on the Children’s team has not been taken away from him, as some of the press reported. “On the contrary, he is helped in every way possible,” they say from Barça. In the absence of further explanations from Saras, the coach closed on Movistar: “Now there are fewer options than ever to return. I never say no in life, but…” At the moment, Jasikevicius and Barça do not understand each other any more than they did at the end of last year, when they invited him to leave, when the decision felt like a shot.

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