Mantas Montvila started playing basketball at LCC International University in 2012 when he was still in high school. The desire to receive a high quality education and continue his basketball career led Mantas to choose LCC. Now, a senior majoring in Business Administration and captain of the LCC Moose Basketball team, Mantas is looking forward to trying a career in basketball.
How did you get to know about LCC and started playing for the LCC Moose basketball team?
Since I am from Klaipėda, choosing LCC as a university was not a tough decision. Some people might not know this, but I have been playing for the LCC Moose Basketball team since high school, so I have been with the team for 7 or 8 seasons already. Marius Tamolis, our basketball coach, invited me to play with the team at LCC. Even though I was still a kid, Marius might have seen potential in me and wanted me to try and play in a more mature team. After I finished high school, I was still considering some other universities as well as an upper division basketball team, but with my parents we decided that LCC offers a high quality education and it was great that I already knew the coach. It was a win-win situation for everyone.
How do you combine studies and basketball?
The most important things currently are my thesis and basketball games. I am the type of person who does everything in advance. Even with my thesis, I am working on it every day, trying to complete various tasks and keep writing. In a way it is quite challenging because it is the most important work I have done since entering LCC. At the same time, I feel I am doing pretty well in combining studies and basketball.
How often do you practice?
Basketball players like to say that after the season ends, the other season starts, since pre-season is actually the most important part. When you are working individually or with a conditioning coach, you are preparing your body and your skill set, and improving yourself before the next season starts. You practice with a team and get to know new team players. Closer to the end of a season we are practicing four or five times during the week, and we have almost no days off. Sometimes we get one day off, but I do not remember the last time that happened. The main aim of practices is to keep us fresh and ready for the game.
As you have been playing since 2012, you have seen players come and go. Would you say that change of teammates plays a role in the team’s success, and how does the adjustment process for new players happen?
I have quite a different role in the basketball team because I am a second-year team captain. Part of my job is enrollment, meaning that I am a bridge between the players and the coach. I know how the team feels inside, and it really helps everyone to understand the general atmosphere and dynamics. Looking at the last two years we had different kinds of players, with different characters, and it was a bit difficult to be friends on and off the court. This year all of us are different, but there was some kind of click in the beginning where we became good friends. I think it is also my responsibility to make sure that everyone is in the same place. Another responsibility is that I give motivational speeches before the game. Since I am the most experienced on the team, and most of the times I know the opposing team, I am trying to motivate our team and make sure they understand that each game is important.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a basketball player?
I guess it is a challenge of not having enough free time. Sometimes you just want to go somewhere or your friends invite you out, but you know that there is a game the next day. I am both a student and athlete, and I remember that the first few years were pretty challenging in terms of managing studies, basketball, and social life.
Do you have any future plans regarding basketball career?
Definitely. My initial plan after graduation was to at least try and become a basketball player and live off that. But I know how basketball really is. One day you can get injured, you are out for 3 or 6 months, and you have no idea what to do during that time. I am happy that I am getting my degree from LCC. I will receive a diploma soon and I believe it will be helpful in the future. After I graduate I will try to be a basketball player and we will see how it goes. I am a pretty realistic person so if it does not go as planned, I will use the education and diploma that I have received.
How important is it for the basketball team to feel the support of their fans?
The support of our fans is a huge part of our success. When I entered LCC there was a huge audience that came to our games and they were crazy. They would come with drums, they painted their faces and I thought that it was a perfect place. It is an amazing thing to play the game and stay motivated by our fans. However, the generation changed, we lost some good players, and we were struggling a bit, so there were some losses during the games. The amount of fans that came to the games was low and it was somewhat depressing for us. However, this year, Lėja, our marketing manager, did a good job creating events to attract more fans and our coach is encouraging us to invite our classmates to the games. It really has changed and this year has been pretty amazing for us. We attract a lot of fans and we started winning, so the fans are happy that we win, we are happy that our fans support us. It is motivating to see the crowd shouting for you and supporting you no matter what.