The Next Stars program continues to grow with Lithuanian NBA draft prospect Mantas Rubstavicius signing with the New Zealand Breakers for the 2023/24 Hungry Jack’s NBL Season. 

14 Jun

The Next Stars program continues to grow with Lithuanian NBA draft prospect Mantas Rubstavicius signing with the New Zealand Breakers for the 2023/24 Hungry Jack’s NBL Season. 

Rubstavicius is currently projected to be a second-round pick in ESPN’s 2024 NBA mock draft and joins the NBL as a high upside youngster with huge potential to increase his NBA stocks. 

The 21-year-old has already proven himself on the international stage, being the leading scorer at the 2022 U20 European Championships. He led Lithuania to the gold medal game and was named to the All-Tournament Team, while also scoring an event high 38 points against France in the Quarter-Finals. 

“We welcome Mantas to the league with great excitement about the player he already is, and ultimately, the player he can become after developing his game with the Breakers,” NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said.

“Mantas possesses a skillset that every NBA team craves. He is a dangerous scorer, a deadly long-range shooter who is adept at working off the ball to get in position for catch-and-shoot threes, and he is also a crafty bucket getter off the bounce.

“With time in the NBL system to evolve his game and receive opportunities at a professional level, Mantas is poised to increase his NBA prospects.”

The Breakers are synonymous with the Next Stars program. Two New Zealand Next Stars have graduated to the NBA in RJ Hampton and Ousmane Dieng, while a third, Rayan Rupert, is projected to be a first round pick this year. 

Hugo Besson also played with the Breakers as an import in 2021/22 season and was drafted directly to the NBA.

“Owner Matt Walsh, coach Mody Maor, and the entire team at the Breakers have the perfect NBA pathway systems in place and Mantas is set to benefit from it, while also joining a highly competitive squad who were just one win away from winning the Championship this past season,” Loeliger said.

“I feel very happy and excited about this great opportunity, and I can't wait to play for the New Zealand Breakers next season,” Rubstavicius said.

“I know that the Next Stars program has helped a number of young talents. It allowed them to reveal themselves on the basketball court and improve. Many players from this program went on to the NBA after successful seasons.”

The talented Lithuanian has set some lofty ambitions for himself and his team for the upcoming season.

“Goals always have to be highest - to become champions of the league and to improve our game every day,” he added.

“Personally, I am coming to the NBL to learn, improve and help my team be successful as a group.”

Breakers’ head coach Mody Maor believes the 18-year-old will develop rapidly. “He led the competition in scoring and Lithuania to the final and this is when he put himself on the radar for the Breakers,” Maor, said.

“He has experience in high pressure situations in competitive environments and has been playing against adults which is not the case when you get an 18-year-old.”

“All those things we believe will help him adjust to the NBL faster, and allow him to showcase his talents earlier, and help us win.

“Mantas is exactly the same prototype as Rayan Rupert and Ousmane Dieng. When Rayan Rupert came to us he was also second round and when he did well at the Blitz, he went into the first round,” he said.

The 6-foot-7 wing played for Lietkabelis across the 2022-23 season in Lithuania and the EuroCup. Prior to joining Lietkabelis, he developed his game at Lithuanian powerhouse Zalgiris. 

Rubstavicius also made his debut on the Lithuanian Senior National Team in February during the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers and scored 12 points on debut in a win over Hungary.

New Zealand’s season begins on Saturday, September 30, against the Cairns Taipans at Spark Arena.

1920x250 (2)

For early access and updates, stay up to date with the hottest young basketball talent in the world. Sign up below and never miss a play or the next big moment.

By signing up you agree to the NBL Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.