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Discovering the second Lithuanian official religion: Basketball’s faith.

Despite the fact that is passed almost one week from the end of the Basketball World Cup, the feelings that I felt while watching Lithuania’s National team most crucial matches are still etched in my mind.

Everyone probably knows that basketball is considered the national sport in Lithuania, nevertheless as far as you are not here and you don’t spent a night watching a match with some real supporters you cannot understand why this sport is said to be a sort of second religion in this country.

Suddenly when a match is about to begin you notice that the streets around you get quickly empty and streams of people flock into the pubs in order to capture a good seat in front of the screens.

Having the opportunity to be in Stars and Legends Bar in Vilnius, that is meant to be a real temple for sports, gave a clue of Lithuanians’ passion for this sport.

While nervous fans were taking place at their respective tables, I had the chance to give a look around. I realized that I was walking in a sort of national museum of sport. Each wall had sweaters, T-shirts, socks, wristbands within a glass case, as well as all-time top Lithuanian players’ shoes preserved as veritable relics.

But the real show starts as the first player tosses the ball. In that moment every eye is focused on the ball and you hear just screams of joy and happiness for each basket marked and even more loud shouts of support when the point is not scored. In that atmosphere even an atheist would be converted into this religion.

According to statistics in Lithuania more than 24.000 people are actively playing this sport.

The 16th of September when the National team came back from Spain, which hosts the 2014 Basketball World Cup, in front of the Vilnius Town Hall there were thousand of jubilant fans waiting for their idols, even if this time they did not reach the podium. Anyhow they gained a respectful 4th position that keeps making anyone proud of the team performance. 

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