|Lukas Lekavicius added 7 points and 6 rebounds in the Lithuanian's only Qualifying Round win that booked them a Quarter-Final appearance|
by Yarone Arbel
Lithuania is the last team from Group E to make the quarter-finals after an 80-61 win over Italy in the U16 European Championship at Osnovna Skola Jugoslavija in Bar, Montenegro on Wednesday night.
The Lithuanians needed an eight point win to snatch the quarter-finals ticket from Italy, and added 11 more points for safety measures and take the fourth spot in the group.
They have lost all their games but one versus Denmark, but came with the right win in the right time to make the difference and stay in the race for the medals.
This result created a three-way tie between the eventual qualifiers, Italy and Greece all with 1-4 record, but Lithuania won the tie-breaker thanks to the big win.
Marius Grigonis finished as the top scorer with 16, Denis Krestinin added 15 with eight rebounds and four blocks while Justas Tamulis added 13 and Augustinas Jankaitis wrote a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Mirco Turel reached 13 points for Italy and was the only player on his squad to reach double-digits.
The Lithuanians dominated the boards 51-38 to cover for no less than 26 turnovers that still weren't enough for Italy to lose by a decent margin.
Lithuania used a strong start from the tip-off and took a 6-0 lead, and before five minutes passed Tamulis hit from the arc on the fast break to make it 15-1.
Italy started to connect points from the long distance as well with Matteo Imbro and Niccolo De Vico and vanished the Lithuanian gap down to a single point, 18-17 after a great 2-16 run.
Grigonis and later Krestinin with four points in a row created another run for Lithuania and after 12 minutes it was 34-21.
Lithuania remained on top and after both sides failed to socre in the last 2:30 minutes of the first half, the gap was 42-28 at the break, but Italy wasn't giving up yet.
Francesco Candussi and Aristide Landi found their rhythm and after the break created a 2-11 run to make it just a five points game, 44-39.
Jankaitis and some points from the bench made it a double-digit game once again before the finish line of the third quarter, with a 54-45 gap, still enough for the ticket.
With 4:44 on the game clock the gap was only 10, and Italy was still in the picture but then Tamulis drained a three pointer to start a 7-0 run in less than a minute, and Italy had no answers.
The Italians added only three points until the final buzzer, and saw their opponent extend the lead and celebrate the big come back with a 19 point win.