IT will be a big day for Lithuanian native Greta Tamasanskaite when she lines out with Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell in the Hula Hoops Paudie O’Connor National Cup final against Pyrobel Killester on Sunday evening.
Everyone in the sport expected Sunday’s final to be between Glanmire and DCU Mercy, but Killester and Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell never read the script and knocked the two heavyweights out of the competition.
Brunell are now in the cup final for the second year in a row and hope to go one better than last year when they underperformed in the final and lost.
This is Greta’s first time playing basketball overseas. However, it's not her first time playing professional basketball, as she have played pro ball in her own country for the last seven years.
Greta comes from a small town in Lithuania called Mariyampole, and started playing basketball at a early age at fourth grade at the Mariyampole School.
She fell in love with the sport straight away, and with hard work and dedication she progressed to represent her national team at U16, U18, U19 and U20 level.
She also went on to play professionally with numerous national league teams.
Greta was about to give up playing last summer as her boyfriend Mantvydas Staselis (who also plays professional basketball with Italian Team Molfeta for the last two years) are about to get married this July, and wanted to spend more time together.
However, that all changed when Brunell came calling, and the temptation to play overseas was a opportunity that she couldn’t refuse.
Brunell getting to the cup final against all odds, and was a major shock for most pundits, but Greta and her team always had the believe that if they would play to their potential that they would always have a chance to win and knock out cup favourites DCU Mercy in the semi-final.
Greta spoke to the Echo this week to tell us her story.
“It was a unexpected phone call I got in August from my agent asking me would I be interested in playing basketball overseas, and that took me by surprise.
“I was in a situation where I decided not to play basketball professionally anymore that summer, however, with more time to relax and clear my mind I decided to make a call to play again. The opportunity to get to play and coach overseas was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down,” Greta explains.
“I have a degree in coaching basketball from my country and it’s gives me the opportunity to pass on my skills, and the knowledge.
“I have passed this on to the students at St Vincent’s schools, both secondary and primary as a assistant coach.
“This also give me a chance to learn from the head coach Dommie Mullins, who has coached for many years.
“I didn’t have any real expectations about the standard of the league when I arrived here, but I was pleasantly surprised as the standard was high with some very good teams.
“I was also very impressed with the standard of the Irish players on my team, that most of them have played internationally at different levels, and we have two very good American players in Aryn McClure and Treyanna Clay.
“I didn’t find it hard to settle in at first because everyone at the club was so friendly and supportive to me in ever situation, and give me all support I needed when I got homesick after a few weeks.
“Then my friend came over to visit with me for a week which was really nice.
“I was home for Christmas, and soon settled back into the routine of practices and games.
“I’m also getting used to living in Cork, especially the hills and knowing when to use the buses," she said with a grin. "And it's great to see the others cities when our team are on the road.
“People didn’t give our team much of a chance in our semi-final win against DCU Mercy, but as a team we knew if we played hard and to our potential that we would always be in a position to win the game.
“Our league record does not make good reading, however, the margins by which we lost most games were very small.
“We play Killester on Sunday in the final and after losing to them twice in the league, we are confident that if we can play with the same intensity and passion as we played in the semi-final win over DCU, we can bring the cup back to Cork.”