12 DAYS TO BHL START: INTRODUCING VHC ŠVIESA VILNIUS

Antanavicius

The youngest club in the Baltic Handball League, having not yet got out of its “teenage” years is VHC Šviesa Vilnius. However, in less than 20 years the club has already established itself in the elite of the region. Šviesa has finished third in BHL, won three Lithuanian cups and had some success in European competitions.

Vilnius Handball Centre – VHC – was formed in 2002 and is today the strongest club in Lithuanian capital. “Having concentrated on the first team and having a reserve side in the second division, the club has decided to build up a youth system as well. But of course in difficult times we have to see how things work out,” said Šviesa’s head coach Raimondas Maldžius.

Šviesa made their BHL debut back in 2005/06, skipped a few seasons, but in 2010/11 achieved their best ever result. They finished the regular season fourth, but in the Final Four managed to beat the future four-time champion Cocks Riihimäki 25:24in the third-place play-off.

Next year Šviesa reached the Final Four once more, but did not get to the podium. The club took few years off again, but since 2017 has been a regular participant, qualifying to the quarter-finals in last two seasons. In 2018/19, Šviesa eliminated two opponents and reached the last 16 of EHF Challenge Cup.

On domestic front, Šviesa has yet to win the league title, having finished second on three occasions. But the club is the reigning Lithuanian cup-winner, as just before the season was interrupted in March, they beat champions HC Dragunas Klaipeda in the 2020 final. It was the third time in history, as Šviesa also won the cup in 2012 and 2013.

“We have always set for ourselves high goals and this season we are aiming for top three in the BHL. It will not be easy, as I do believe with the new system the level will be very equal and over the eight months BHL will produce very interesting matches,” commented Maldžius, who had a first glance at some opponents already last weekend in Klaipeda.

“We played four matches, won two and lost two, but for a first test it was very good. Dragunas looked very strong, ZRHK Tenax Dobele will also be one of the favourites of BHL and Serviti is constantly a very difficult opponent. Now we will play in Põlva Cup and get an even better idea, were we stand,” added Maldžius.

Šviesa has basically retained exactly the same squad as last season and possess some real firepower. 2018/19 BHL top scorer Karolis Antanavičius is still with the team, as is Laurynas Palevičius – both of them scored 59 goals last season before COVID-19 interrupted it.

“Some players had plans to move abroad, but the pandemic changed that. Our captain Antanavičius was one of them, who had a serious offer, but for now he is with us. It is good to have experience and stability in the team, but we have also added some youngsters to our squad,” explained Šviesa’s head coach.

VHC Šviesa Vilnius

Founded: 2002

Best domestic results: Lithuanian cup-winner 2012, 2013 and 2020, Lithuanian championship runner-up 2013/14, 2017/18 and 2018/19

Best European results: last 16 of EHF Challenge Cup 2018/19

Best results in BHL: bronze-medallist 2010/11

Head coach: Raimondas Maldžius

Key players: Karolis Antanavičius, Valdas Drabavičius, Laurynas Palevičius

Opening match in BHL: 02/09/2020 Granitas-Karys Kaunas – VHC Šviesa Vilnius

On photo: 2018/19 BHL top scorer Karolis Antanavičius is captaining ambitious VHC Šviesa Vilnius. (Photo: VHC Šviesa).

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