Marius Grigonis: 'Everything was very good until the war broke out'

2022-07-23 10:54
Credit: BNS
Credit BNS

Marius Grigonis was the marquee signing for Panathinaikos OPAP Athens this offseason.

The Lithuanian guard comes to Greece after leaving CSKA Moscow. According to reports, Panathinaikos paid €350,000 buyout fee for the Russian club in order to lure the player to their side.

"There was this problem and concern. And this is because my matter had gone to BAT," Grigonis explained the situation in an interview to "Panathinaikos offered to help me and proceed with the negotiations with CSKA Moscow. They really helped me a lot to solve the issue and come to the team."

Points this season

Points made: 74,4
Accuracy: 45,7%
Place in standings: 13
Record max: 95
Record min: 48
Best scorer: Nemanja Nedovic

Grigonis will have to play numerous times against his former teammate at Zalgiris Kaunas, Thomas Walkup, who will wear the Olympiacos Piraeus jersey for the second year in a row next season.

"The truth is that we already exchanged some bad things with each other," the Lithuanian said while laughing about facing his friend in the eternal rivalry. "We are friends with Thomas but when we get on the court we will be rivals. However, it's fun to know players from the big rival well because you can trash talk more comfortably. We already started the derby early."

There is a number of Lithuanians that have played for Panathinaikos throughout the club's history but Grigonis only needed the advice of just one of them.

"To tell the truth, I only talked a little with [Jonas] Maciulis and he gave me some tips regarding the team and life in Greece. He told me that he enjoyed life in Athens with his family and that it is very good for someone to be there with his family. So I also got some information," the newly-signed Panathinaikos guard told. "From then on, I didn't talk to anyone else."

Grigonis will not be the only Lithuanian on the roster. Panathinaikos recently announced the addition of Lithuanian big man Arturas Gudaitis. The two have known each other since their very early days.

"Basically, we had communication with Arturas before I even signed with Panathinaikos," the Lithuanian guard recalled. "In fact, I had told him that I would go to the team and after my agreement with Panathinaikos, I told him that I was waiting for him in Athens. And he replied: 'Great, I'm coming'."

Before joining the Lithuanian national team, Grigonis' last-played official game was on February 18th in the VTB United League, his last EuroLeague game - a February 10th clash against Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv. Up until June, he had to train individually.

"It was different and difficult. Let me say at this point that Zalgiris helped me significantly because they let me use the arena to do individual training," Grigonis commended his former team. "From then on, for the first three weeks after the outbreak of the war, I had no appetite or desire to watch any games. I was very pissed off. But as time went by, all you had in your mind was the next day and what would be better for you in the future."

"Everything was very good until the war broke out. But I am happy with the team. The people there are excellent, they treated me perfectly and I have absolutely no complaints. But I had to leave because of the events with the war," Grigonis explained.

Grigonis will face his former coach Dimitris Itoudis in the 2022 EuroBasket in the upcoming September. Although the case with CSKA went to court and was only salvaged by Panathinaikos, the player's relationship with the coach is in excellent condition, Grigonis says.

"As for coach Itoudis, we had a normal, formal and nice relationship between player and coach. So if and when we happen to work together again in the future, all is well between us," the shooting guard told. "I always try to have a good relationship with all the players and coaches in my career because you never know what tomorrow brings. Our world is very small. So our paths may find each other again."

"Ever since we were at CSKA Moscow, there were rumors that he would take over the Greek national team and he was trash-talking me in a 'we will face you and beat you' style. It was fun. But I think he is the coach who can manage all the superstars in the most effective way and get what he wants from each one of them," he concluded.

Lithuania will play in Group B against Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and France, while Greece will battle in Group C against Estonia, Ukraine, Great Britain, Italy, and Croatia.


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