Jasaitis Wants Gold For Home Fans

06.09.2011

EUROBASKET 2011

10. Simas Jasaitis (Lithuania)
Lithuania forward Simas Jasaitis is in his hometown of Vilnius this week, but he dreams of a gold medal around his neck in Kaunas

Simas Jasaitis is back in his home town of Vilnius dreaming of reaching the top of the podium with Lithuania.

Lithuania won all but one of their Group A games to advance to the next phase with a 1-1 record.

The Baltic side, following a heavy setback to Spain on Sunday, ended its stay in Panevezys with a 98-69 rout of Portugal on Monday night.

Jasaitis scored 12 points, corralled four rebounds and hustled from start to finish.

Lithuania have had some good moments, and not so good moments.

The 29-year-old Jasaitis, a small forward competing in his fourth EuroBasket, definitely believes the best is yet to come.

"The win against Portugal was important for the team after our defeat to Spain," Jasaitis said to fibaeurope.com

"We knew we had to get back on the court and play much better. We did that in the second half against Portugal, even though we still have to continue to improve and get to where we want to be.

"The feeling is good because this was a difficult group and to have won four of our five games is a good result."

Sometimes being the home side brings additional pressure on a team that seemed to be the case against a dangerous Great Britain team that led the Lithuanians in the fourth quarter before falling away over the last several minutes.

"Our opening game against Great Britain was a big test for us," Jasaitis said.

"We were nervous and didn't play as well as we could have but it's always important to start on the right foot.

"I think we can be satisfied with what we have done in Panevezys."

The worst development so far for Lithuania has been the loss of center Marijonas Petravicius to a lung problem for the remainder of the tournament.

"He is an important player for us and we are sorry for him that he will not be able to play in the competition," Jasaitis said.

"We wish him well.

"But we are just focusing on the players that we do have available. We also lost other players (Darjus Lavrinovic) to injury before the start of the tournament and we knew we had to adapt and move on."

His loss means even more will be needed from Robertas Javtokas and Paulius Jankunas, two players that excelled for the team one year ago at the World Championship in Turkey.

If Jasaitis and Lithuania believed they had tough games in Group A, Group E will present its difficulties as well.

They will start against Serbia, one of the teams many expect to reach the podium again, and then go up against an unbeaten, Tony Parker-led France and Dirk Nowitzki and Germany.

This is not a problem, Jasaitis says, but rather an opportunity.

"To face very strong teams definitely motivates us," Jasaitis said.

"We have come from a group where we took on defending champions Spain and the silver medalists of the World Championship (Turkey).

"We are aware we will have to be focused from start to finish and step up our game.

"This is a new round so we must forget what we have done in the past."

One aspect to this EuroBasket for Lithuania that should help them through the tough times and become more and more of a factor is their home-court advantage.

"Our fans are always fantastic," Jasaitis said.

"We had a great atmosphere. They didn't stop cheering in Panevezys and they are very important to us.

"We know we will have the same support in Vilnius, we are playing at home.

"We want to win this championship."


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