MALAGA (LEB Oro) - One of the most gratifying images of this year’s FIBA World Championship occurred at half-time of the Final between hosts Turkey and the United States.
The men and women that were being inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame were introduced to the crowd and one giant received tremendous applause from the crowd.
He was Arvydas Sabonis, the legend of Lithuania.
The man that gave international basketball many thrills and filled his country with so much pride couldn’t help but smile.
After hearing his name on the loudspeaker in the Sinan Erdem Dome, Sabonis paused, took a few steps in the direction of the section of fans wearing the Lithuanian colors and waved before joining a line consisting of other Hall of Fame inductees.
This season, Sabonis’ 18-year-old son Tautvydas, makes his debut in Spain’s LEB Oro with Clinicas Rincon, the LEB team of Unicaja Malaga.
The Sabonis family has a home in Malaga.
It's one thing to try and follow in the footsteps of a father and play professional basketball.
It's something else entirely, however, if your last name is Sabonis.
"If there is anyone there who does not know who Arvydas Sabonis is, it's because they are not Lithuanian," Tautvydas says.
"I am known as Sabonis' son."
Tautvydas is 2.02m tall and like his father has worn the Lithuania jersey, albeit with the country’s youth teams and not the senior side.
There are two other Sabonis basketball playing sons as well: Domantas and Zygmantas.
"The good one has yet to emerge,” Tautvydas says.
“He is Domantas, who is 14 years old and plays in the youth team.
"What he does, not even I or Zygmantas did at his age.
"I think he will be the best of all of us."
Tautvydas has heard a lot of stories about his father.
He won numerous MVP awards, competed in international tournaments and also played in the NBA.
One story that Tautvydas likes to tell is the one about Zalgiris.
At the end of the 1980s when Sabonis was at the peak of his career, he signed with Forum Valladolid in Spain.
"What I have really learned from my father and that I will never forget is that when he signed for Forum, he promised he would return to Zalgiris and play there,” Tautvydas says.
“After many years, he did that and he stayed one complete season there playing for free.”
That showed Sabonis’ loyalty to Kaunas, and to Lithuanian basketball.
If Sabonis is under pressure on the outside to live up to the family name, on the inside it doesn't seem so.
When asked what advice his father had for him, Tautvydas said: "To work, to eat well and to sleep well."
His main goal heading into the LEB Oro season?
"My aim is to improve in all aspects of my game," he said.
"I want to learn from my teammates and try to get a few minutes of play.
"They tell me I'm intelligent on the court, that I know the game. I am more like (former Spain captain and current Unicaja Malaga forward) Carlos Jimenez."
At the U18 European Championship this summer in Bar, Montenegro, Tautvydas played an average of just under 14 minutes per game.
Two years before, he played at the U16 European Championship.
On both occasions, the Lithuanians won gold medals.