Ball brothers' Lithuanian coach gives them a harsh reality check


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The Ball family and its Big Baller Brand have been one of the most polarizing sports stories over the past year.

There seems to be a sharp divide between people who admire the Balls and people who wish the basketball brothers and their brash father, LaVar, would disappear.

With LaVar sending his two youngest sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, to play for Prienai-Birstonas Vytautas in Lithuania, many in the latter group hoped their Ball problem would go away.

But with a change of scenery for the Balls came new challenges and some surprisingly good basketball — depending on the opponent.

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Some believe LaMelo, the youngest of the three, could be the most talented of the brothers, even better than Lakers rookie Lonzo.

But according to Virginijus Seskus, the Prienai-Birstonas Vytautas head coach, LaMelo is the biggest headache.

“When I watch them in practices, they stand out, especially the little one. You can’t control that little chipmunk,” Seskus said on Lithuanian TV via USA Today. “You say, ‘Don’t shoot 40-footers.’ Next thing you know, he’s shooting 40-footers.”

Seskus then added, “They’re [LiAngelo and LaMelo] not used to training hard. You need to make them give 100 percent in practices.”

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Ouch. As an athlete, that is one of the biggest daggers you can hear a coach say about you.

LaVar has yet to comment on the notion that his sons, who have been through many Big Baller “training” sessions, would ever be questioned about their work ethic.

Seskus did add that it is “hard” for LaMelo to be a 16-year-old competing in a league with grown men.

When playing against lower-level talent in the Big Baller Brand Challenge games, the brothers have shined.

But in their first league game, the brothers combined to shoot 0-for-7 from the field in fewer than 15 minutes on the court.

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Despite the poor performance, Seskus said he has been impressed with LiAngelo.

“The older one, LiAngelo, he takes this stuff more serious and he tries to involve his brother,” Seskus said, before adding that he has seen LiAngelo counseling LaMelo to listen more to their coach.

The road in Lithuania seems to be tougher for LaMelo, but adversity builds character and strength, which could be exactly what he needs if he wants to follow his older brother Lonzo’s footsteps into the NBA.

The brothers will next be in action when they host Lietuvos Rytas’ second team at Prienai Arena on Monday.

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