With an 82-70 win over Zalgiris Kaunas this Monday, Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius has won the Lithuanian championship for the fourth time, adding the 2009 title to those of 2000, 2002 and 2006. Against a Zalgiris team that had seen its roster reduced like ice in the sunshine during the season, the win of the team built around Chuck Eidson did not really come as a surprise. The main information for Euroleague fans, though, is that the victory opens the door for another wild card spot in the Euroleague.
In fact, as a winner of the Eurocup this season, Lietuvos Rytas had already earned a so-called C-License which gives them the right to play in the Euroleague for one season. The latest Euroleague competition system being discussed also includes a B-License for the Lithuanian champion.
Lietuvos Rytas now has the opportunity to play in the Euroleague under a B-License, which would not normally make any change for them (except if major surprises occur in nearly all European leagues and the fact that this B-License does not give right to a direct regular-season spot) and therefore the C-License will be redistributed through a wildcard determiner or by the Euroleague.
This wildcard will only be decided once all national champions are known, the Euroleague confirmed to BallinEurope.com today. So this license will probably be used for one of the top teams that is currently a B-License candidate due to a national championship but won’t win the supreme title. This could be the case in Germany if ALBA Berlin does not win the Bundesliga title, for example, and I think that the wildcard would go to ALBA in that case. Another possibility is provided by Serbia or Slovenia, but the chances of Partizan or Olimpija not winning the title are probably smaller that ALBA’s in Germany.