Kisielius had an outstanding month, as his statistical numbers grew exponentially. He doubled his scoring, rebounding and assist averages, while increasing all his shooting percentages.
Throughout the month, the Lithuanian averaged 21.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists, while shooting 65% from two-point, 56% from three-point range and 80% of his free-throws.
BBL.net spoke to Laimonas about what this award means to him, his off-season routine, the upcoming match-up against Tarvas and his recent rise in form.
Laimonas, first of all, I’d like to congratulate you on becoming the MVP of January. What does an award like this mean to you?
Thank you for the recognition. Honestly, I don’t take these awards too personally any more. At the start of my career, I used to think it was an individual award, but as times moved on, I started viewing these more like a reference to the whole team’s play.
How would you rate Pieno Zvaigzdes’ season until now? Where do you see the biggest strengths of the club and what does the team need to add to become a powerhouse in the playoffs?
Right now we’re playing solid basketball and we’re a team that doesn’t rely solely on one or two players. We’ve got a well-balanced roster and anyone can come in and have a great game. That is definitely our biggest strength as a team. Perhaps one of the weaker points of our team is the experience – we’re a young squad and we could really use a big game or two.
Your opponent in the Eighth-finals is Tarvas. What do you know about this Estonian team and what can the fans expect from this series?
The Rakvere team will surely be a tough opponent. We‘ll have to stay focused going into the away game if we hope to have a good game. They‘ve got some heavy foreign firepower and the way we take care of them might decide the outcome of this series.
The Pasvalys side is often mentioned among the handful of teams that have got all the chances to take the trophy. In your opinion, what are some of the teams that pose the biggest threat to your run?
Right now, the only team that poses a threat is Tarvas. We‘ll think of the others only after this series is over.
Up until the end of the year, you were averaging 10 points, while in January, your averages skyrocketed and reached 21.7. Did something change in the coach‘s gameplan or did you simply get on a roll?
I had to miss the start of the season due to injuries and it took some time to get my rhythm back. This month we played some great basketball and it was successful both for me personally and team-wise.
Although you‘re not a fresh face on the basketball court, do you still feel that you‘re improving? Which aspect of your game has developed most throughout the year and during the summer?
I believe that this season, my biggest improvement was from the psychological side of the game. It is often an undervalued, yet a very important part of basketball. I‘m always trying to motivate my teammates, prepare them mentally for the upcoming big matches. Each and every one of us tries to give a positive kick in the behind to the others to push them to try even harder. During practices, we usually look to improve the team‘s decision-making. I spend most of my summers getting physically ready for the season and making sure I prevent any possible injuries. During the season it‘s more a tactical approach, therefore it‘s really important to set a good foundation prior to the season.
You‘ve played most of your career in Lithuania. Do you see yourself returning to the foreign market? Or is it more fun to play back home?
It‘s always nice to play in your home country – my friends, family are all here, but nevertheless, I would suggest trying out playing in a foreign country to everyone. It‘s an priceless life, culture, language experience and basketball is the perfect tool to try it all out.
And finally... Just recently you celebrated your thirtieth birthday – how did you celebrate your first step into your forties? Did your teammates remember to congratulate you?
We celebrated my birthday with a lot of work! My teammates were really wonderful – they came to my place before the practice with a great gift! And the following day, I received another gift – an important victory in LKL.