|09 August 2007|
By Daniel AubreyIt’ll be Lithuania and not Spain who head to the semi-finals as they broke Serbia’s unbeaten run tonight with a 75-71 win in front of a shocked Spanish crowd which included all of the Spanish team.
Donatas Motiejunas, who had got involved in a number of altercations with the Spanish players in yesterday’s game, was the man most responsible for his side’s advance at the
cost of the hosts as he scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
|The Spanish team lent their support from the stands in hopes of a Serbian win.|
Lithuania took the lead straight from the off and Serbia didn’t seem too bothered as the game gradually slipped away from them in the first half.
Milan Macvan was still scoring well, but led by Motiejunas and Vaidas Cepukaitis Lithuania got away all too easily from their opponents, getting in front and staying there throughout the first half and taking a 44-36 lead into the break.
But a different Serbia came out in the second half, as all of a sudden their unbeaten record seemed to matter again.
A Stefan Stojacic trey brought it to within two points with 5:02 remaining in the third, followed by another from Dusan Katnic 30 seconds later for Serbia to take their first lead of the night to chants of “Serbia” from the Spanish crowd.
Another three-pointer from Filip Covic after Zygimantas Janavicius had missed from the same range at the other end and the game had suddenly swung Serbia’s way 50-46.
It was a warning to Lithuania who responded well but looked uncomfortable at times under the new pressure.
They brought the game level before another three-pointer from Covic gave Serbia a 56-53 lead going in to the final stretch.
Things now started getting tense as the score remained close, and Stojacic had the crowd ecstatic with another treble with 4:57 to go to make it 65-62 to his side.
But then the game turned again as Lithuania finally hit their game.
A Vytenis Lipkevicius three pointer started a run of 11-2 to Lithunania that put them ahead 73-67 with 2:07 left.
An interminable two minutes followed as the clock ticked down with nobody scoring, and the Spanish crowd (and the Spanish players especially) sat silently waiting.
A Motiejunas lay-up with 14 seconds left sentenced it and as the final buzzer went there was a rather surprised and cold atmosphere in the arena.
It means Lithuania will play Greece in the semi-finals as they hope to better their silver medal showing from last year.
“We hope we can do it” said an ecstatic coach Sigitas Krukis of his side’s chances of making the final.
“I hear many good things about their big guy (Konstantinos) Koufos so put it this way, we’re going to buy a DVD of Greece and then I’ll tell you if we can make it!” he joked.