The embodiment of Zalgiris Kaunas pride, team captain Paulius Jankunas, has joined an exclusive club of 3,000-point scorers in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague by reaching that milestone in a home game on Tuesday to open Round 9 of the regular season. In his 323rd EuroLeague game, all except 16 of them wearing Zalgiris green, Jankunas scored 5 points to give him a total of 3,001 for his career. The milestone point was scored on a left-handed lay-in with 3:04 left in the third quarter. Zalgiris lost to visiting Panathinaikos OPAP Athens, 85-86.
Jankunas becomes the fourth player ever, and the second in a week, to surpass the 3,000-point barrier. The all-time scoring leader is Juan Carlos Navarro (4,152 points). Vassilis Spanoulis of Olympiacos Piraeus is second with 4,070 at the start of Round 9, while his teammate Georgios Printezis hit the 3,000-point milestone in a Round 8 win over Zalgiris on his way to 3,008. The 3,000-point club is expected to keep growing soon. Real Madrid's Felipe Reyes, the EuroLeague's career rebounding king, is sitting on 2,998 points, but is currently injured. Reyes's teammate Sergio Llull (2,918 entering Round 8) and Nando De Colo (2,833 entering Round 8) of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul could also reach 3,000 this season.
Jankunas, 35, has been with Zalgiris for all but one of his 16 seasons as a professional. He was at the fore when Zalgiris reached the 2018 Final Four in Belgrade after eliminating Printezis and Olympiacos in the playoffs. Jankunas was named to the All-EuroLeague Second Team that season, too. He has a cupboard full of silverware won with his club, including 12 Lithuanian League championships, seven Lithuanian Cups and four Baltic League titles. As a longtime member of the Lithuanian national team, he also captured a silver medal at EuroBasket 2015 and a bronze at the same event two years later.
A product of the Zalgiris youth academy, he debuted with the senior team for the 2003-04 season and has been there ever since, except in the 2009-10 season, which he played for Khimki Moscow Region. Jankunas is the EuroLeague all-time leader in defensive rebounds with 1,250. He ranks second in total rebounds with 1,752, third in games played (323), fourth in scoring (3,001) and two-point baskets (951), fifth in fouls drawn (938) and sixth in free throws made (688).