By Tom Ballato
The former Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward, Martinas Geben, has jumpstarted his career in his home country of Lithuania and a lot of people are taking notice.
After coming off the bench in a limited role his freshman and sophomore year at Notre Dame, Geben became a starter for coach Mike Brey his junior year. He drew the start in 23 of the team’s 34 games in 2016-2017. His senior year, he started in all 36 games and his numbers took a jump. Geben averaged 11.1 points and 8 rebounds per game in his senior year with the Irish. He had big games against ACC rivals Duke and North Carolina that year. He spoked about how coach Brey prepared the team for big games by saying, “His whole style was to be loose and not stress too much and play with confidence and have fun while competing on the court. He never wanted us to be too serious or put pressure on ourselves, just go out and play.”
He finished his career at Notre Dame with averages of 5.2 points and 4.2 rebound per game. Geben improved every year at Notre Dame and was part of Notre Dame’s runs to the Elite Eight in 2015 and 2016. When asked about his fondest memories from his time at Notre Dame, Geben responded, “There were a lot of great memories. I loved spending time with teammates off the court. On the court, particularly memorable were our ACC championship, two Elite Eight NCAA Tourney runs, and winning the Maui Invitational my senior year.”
Following the conclusion of his career at Notre Dame, he signed with the defending champions of the Lithuanian LKL, Zalgiris Kaunas. He went undrafted in the NBA Draft and was sent on loan to Juventus Utena for one season by Zalgiris.
Playing in his first professional season, Geben has had to make some adjustments. When talking about what things he has needed to do, he said, “Playing against much more experienced professionals and adjusting to the lifestyle of a pro. Taking care of myself, taking care of my body, prepare for games.”
Geben has been impressive for Juventus. In 39 games, he has averaged 11.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. He spoke about his first season in Lithuania and said, “This year I played several roles primarily dictated by my performance. I started off as a backup center, but as I grew more comfortable on the court and getting more used to the game on a professional level, I became one of the leaders on the team, and the starting center playing 25+ minutes per game.”
Geben has been happy with his progress and performance on the court. He earned Domestic Player of the Year honors following a stellar rookie season. He has signed with Zalgiris for the upcoming season.
Recently, Geben has been named to the Lithuanian national team for the 2019 FIBA World Cup. A Lithuanian team that features the likes of Memphis Grizzlies’ center Jonas Valančiūnas, Indiana Pacers’ forward Domantas Sabonis and former New York Knick Mindaugas Kuzminskas.
Geben is no stranger to the national team. He represented Lithuania in the U19, World University Games in 2017, and in two windows for Men’s qualifying games for World Championship. When I asked him to describe what it felt like representing his country, he responded, “Each and every time, it is an amazing feeling to put on a Lithuanian jersey and represent my country. I am very proud to be Lithuanian and compete in my country’s honor.”