With all the excitement of the Olympics, it wouldn’t be a surprise if you didn’t notice one of Australia’s finest talents outside of that Boomers team recently who has signed to play for a Lithuanian powerhouse in 2017/17.
— BC Lietkabelis (@BCLietkabelis) August 18, 2016
Former Sydney Kings captain Ben Madgen signed with Panevezys Lietkabelis this week after playing last season for VOO Verviers-Pepinster Wolves in Belguim. “Madge” had an incredible “rookie” season in Europe, finishing the season as the Polish leagues leading scorer (19.6 points per game). That was done at a remarkable clip with Madegn shooting 43.3% from the three-point line, he also had 4.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 steals during that campaign. as well as contributing 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists to the Wolves.
Stepping up into the Lithuanian league will be a good move for Ben, the league is a higher standard and due to last season’s top three finish this season they will also compete in the Eurocup this season.
The Eurocup is second-tier international basketball competition in Europe. It would be the third toughest basketball league in the world after the NBA and Euroleague.
The 31-year-old Madgen who was a member of the Australian national team in 2013 and 2014 says he still has goals of playing for the Boomers with the upcoming FIBA World Cup being perhaps his last opportunity to do so.
“Playing for a Australia is a huge goal of mine.” said Madgen on the Aussie Hoopla podcast.
“There’s a lot of great talent Australia’s got at the moment and it’s a hard team to crack at the moment but with more experience you never know, you just have to keep working hard”.
The Lithuanian league (LKL) is a very competitive league and the countries recent Olympic success demonstrates that. Many Australian’s and former NBL stars have spent time on the courts across Lithuania in what is still a very young league, it was started in 1993 by NBA legend Sarūnas Marčiulionis.
Brock Motum was a member of the Zalgiris Kaunas which won the championship last season and former NBL import Derrick Low was the league’s leading scorer last year.
Madgen had considered returning to the NBL and listed his name on the league’s free agent list recently. Rumours that a return to Sydney or even seeing him return to his hometown Adelaide 36ers could be on the cards until Panevezys Lietkabelis approached him with an offer to good to refuse.
“I always wanted to help the Kings win a championship, when I come back that’s still one of my major goals”.
Until then the Kings will have to be content in cheering “Madge” on from Lithuania.