Breakers aim to send a 5th player to NBA Draft
The New Zealand Breakers have recruited a player who Head Coach Mody Maor sees as potentially the most influential NBL Next Star the league has seen.
Mantas Rubštavi?ius is a 6’7” Guard who has experience at a high level already after competing in the Euro Cup last year.
The Lithuanian announced himself to the basketball world in the European Under 20 championships last year where he le
ad the competition in scoring after leading his country to the final.
He averaged 19.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.3 assists a game.
Maor says Rubštavi?ius’ positioning of 54 in ESPN’s Mock 2024 draft is misleading and the Breakers have secured the best Next Star available on the open market.
He bases this on the fact that the Lithuanian is 21-years-old, a similar age to former Breakers shooting guard Hugo Besson who was picked up by the Indian Pacers in last year’s NBA Draft.
Playing for the Breakers, Besson proved from the outset he had the skill and ability to instantly change the course of a game.
“Mantas has been playing against adults which is not normally the case when you get an 18 year old,” says Maor.
“It means he will adjust to the NBL faster, allow him to showcase his talents earlier, and help us win.”
“Out of all the potential Next Stars who are available this year, Mantas is the one player who cares about winning more than anything else.”
Maor is the best in the business in assessing Next Stars.
He has overseen the development of all four Breakers players (RJ Hampton, Ousmane Dieng, Hugo Besson and Rayan Rupert) who have gone on to the NBA Draft after a season in the NBL.
It is a record unmatched by any other club in the NBL.
“One of the things we’ve learned over the years with our Next Stars is that if you can find a player that truly loves basketball and truly cares about winning then you have a shot of being successful with it,” says Maor.
“Through all our research we found Mantas to be exactly that.”
Drawing on his experience guiding talented young players, Maor has no doubt Rubštavi?ius will win games for the Breakers.
“Mantas is exactly the same prototype as Rayan Rupert and Ousmane Dieng; he’s got great positional size combined with a versatile perimeter skillset” he says.
Rubštavi?ius averaged 7.0 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.0 assist in 17 minutes for Lietkabelis Panevezys in the Lithuanian league this year.
He has already appeared for the Lithuania senior national team, scoring 12 points in 16 minutes against Hungary in World Cup qualifying.
I can't wait to play for the New Zealand Breakers next season”, says Rubštavi?ius from his home in Lithuania.
“I know that the Next Stars program has helped a number of young talents. Many players from this program went on to the NBA after successful seasons.”
“Personally, I am coming to the NBL to learn, improve and help my team be successful as a group.”
Rubštavi?ius is expected to arrive in New Zealand in two months’ time.