Only in Lithuania? In what is surely perceived of by fans of Lithuanian teams such as Pieno žvaigždės, KK Baltai, Kėdainiai and Juventus as (an unwelcome slap in the face) a controversial decision, LKL officials have decided today (!) to reduce the league’s playoff tournament from eight to six teams.
Yesterday, league commissioner Mindaugas Balčiūnas announced today’s meeting, all but stating then the surprise chance would take place. The move is designed to shorten the season out of deference to Team Lithuania players, who will in theory get more time to prepare for the 2012 Olympic qualifying tournament. Further, Balčiūnas noted that the Russian PBL also shortened its post-season with this motivation – though not nearly at this late state of the season.
It remains to be seen whether some clubs will in fact “understand the whole situation,” particularly the teams listed above, the current no. 5 through 8 seeds, respectively, who suddenly find themselves in the thick of a race for which they hadn’t expected two weeks ago. Five games separate the four teams with 2-6 games left to play.
The top three seeds – Euroleague’s Zalgiris Kaunas, plus Eurocup teams Lietuvos Rytas, Rudupis – will presumably snag the top three spots. No. 2 Zalgiris is undefeated and two games up on no. 3 Rudupis on the LKL table at present. VTB United/Baltic League side KK Šiauliai has a 1½-game advantage on Pieno žvaigždės. In the new system, the top two teams would get first-round byes in the Lithuanian tournament.