By Yarone Arbel
About two weeks ago in the EuroBasket men Russia and Lithuania met in the semi-finals.
There Russia were the underdogs and won on their way to the gold.
Here at EuroBasket Women this is only the quarter-finals and the Lithuanian side is the big underdog.
The key win over Turkey on the last day of the qualifying round sent Lithuania to the top eight here, but now they'll face their toughest task yet.
|Lithuania will have their hands full with Irina Osipova. |
In most games Russia needed just one quarter to decide the game, but the stubborn Lithuanians don't plan to give up so easily.
A big last quarter from long range put Lithuania in the quarters but from here they'll need much more than ten great minutes.
Last Result: Lithuania beat Turkey 67-61 to earn the last spot in the quarter-finals. Russia won the first spot in their group by outscoring Spain 64-49.
Key Matchup: Whenever Irina Osipova scored in double-digits Russia had an easy win. Russia would like to get her involved in the game, taking in mind Maria Stepanova will deliver her normal contribution. With Osipova in good shape it's a nightmare to handle Russia. Agne Ciudariene is the top scorer of Lithuania so far. She scored in all games but one between 12-14 points and showed her consistency around the rim. Against the much taller Osipova she will have a more difficult task, but this match up could be the deciding one.
X-Factor: Iveta Marcauskaite of Lithuania post player who can really shoot the ball from long distance. So far she stands on 38.1% from long range with more than one made shot per game. If she hits those shots against Russia it will force Stepanova or Osipova to step out of the paint, and make life a lot easier for the Lithuanians who wishes to score from close range.
Key Stat: Russia doesn't allow many second chances. They pull down more defensive rebounds than any other team here and Lithuania will have to be ready for that. 41.3% from two point range and 33.7% from long range as they averaged up until now will most probably not be enough for Lithuania to upset the heavy favorites from Russia.
What Does it Mean? – With a win here you earn a one way ticket to the semi-finals while the loser will need to win the following two games to finish 5 th – the last place that is worth a spot in the Olympics qualifying.