Sports

LiAngelo, LaMelo Ball land in Lithuania to play for Prienai

American basketball players LiAngelo and LaMelo's father LaVar Ball speaks to the media upon their arrival at the international airport in Vilnius, Lithuania, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball in December signed one-year contracts to play for Lithuanian professional basketball club Prienai - Birstonas Vytautas from the small southern Lithuania town of Prienai, some 110 km (68 miles) of the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

American basketball players LiAngelo and LaMelo's father LaVar Ball speaks to the media upon their arrival at the international airport in Vilnius, Lithuania, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball in December signed one-year contracts to play for Lithuanian professional basketball club Prienai - Birstonas Vytautas from the small southern Lithuania town of Prienai, some 110 km (68 miles) of the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

VILNIUS, Lithuania — The brothers of Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball landed in rainy Lithuania on Wednesday night to start their career at a local basketball club.

The 19-year-old LiAngelo and his younger brother LaMelo, who is 16, signed professional one-year contracts with BC Prienai last month.

"It's surely no California and it's cold, but I think we will like it here," LeMelo told reporters as they walked through the crowd towards the "Party Bus," which was to take them to Prienai — around 110 kilometres (68 miles) south of Vilnius, the capital.

The brothers arrived with their father LaVar Ball, an American media personality and businessman, and the creator of Big Baller Brand.

LiAngelo and LaMelo are expected to make their debut on Jan. 9, when BC Prienai hosts Tsmoki-Minsk in a Baltic league game.

Most tickets for that night at the 1,200-seat arena have already been sold, according to the box office.

BC Prienai, which was the only team in the league without foreign players, finished sixth in the Lithuanian league last year.

In basketball-crazy Lithuania, the game is often dubbed the "second religion" and attracts huge crowds to arenas even at small towns. There have been several Lithuania players in NBA teams, including Portland Trail Blazers centre Arvydas Sabonis and Zydrunas "Big Z" Ilgauskas at Cleveland Cavaliers.

The national team has claimed numerous titles including winning the FIBA EuroBasket three times and has three Olympic bronze medals.

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