Credit: Fotodiena.lt/E.Blaževičius, BNS, Reuters - Scanpix | BasketNews iliustracija/A.Zaikauskas
Credit Fotodiena.lt/E.Blaževičius, BNS, Reuters - Scanpix | BasketNews iliustracija/A.Zaikauskas

End of an era for Mantas Kalnietis and the Lithuanian national team. Long time Lithuania's point guard retires from national team duties. 

35-year-old confirmed it in an exclusive interview for BasketNews.

"I haven't made this decision in one day," Kalnietis said. "I had a very good time with the national team, and I never had any doubts about playing for my country. I was very lucky because my wife and children wanted me to play for the national team."

"Sometimes, in other cases, there are suggestions to take a break and have holidays in warm countries, but for me, it was the opposite – the family supported my decision to play for Lithuania," he added.

Kalnietis made his debut in the 2006 FIBA World Cup in Japan. Up until 2011, he was the youngest ever debutant of Lithuanian NT.

Kalnietis played for his country without a single break from 2009 up until the summer of 2021, except for 2014, when he suffered a shoulder injury just before the beginning of the World Cup in Spain. Kalnietis was also Lithuanian NT captain since 2017.

Kalnietis played 95 official games for Lithuania, which ranks in fourth place in Lithuania's basketball history.

Kalnietis won two EuroBasket silver medals in 2013 and 2015 and one bronze medal in the 2010 World Cup.

His last game with the national team took place on July 4, 2021, when Lithuania lost the Olympic qualifying tournament final against Slovenia. Kalnietis finished the game with 14 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds.

Kalnietis revealed that part of his decision was a difficult season and a new generation.

"I made this decision because of difficult season and injury, which changed the direction (of my career). At the end of the day, there are people who will replace me. It is not like before when we didn't have any point guards.

Now we have people and talented youngsters. It's normal. Time has come for me to step down, and I took this decision calmly," said Kalnietis.

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