Do-Or-Die For Belarus Against Lithuania

14.06.2009

By David Hein

Belarus and Lithuania both look to snap a three-game losing streak at the 2009 EuroBasket Women and grab their first victory in the Qualification Round Group F while staying alive in the running for the Quarter-finals.


Belarus have been a shadow of the team that captured the hearts of Europe in 2007, when they took home the bronze medal in Italy. Anatoli Buyalski's team - with a 0-3 record - is in disarray at the moment and face a must-win situation to reach the last eight.

Lithuania meanwhile also have lost three in a row for an 0-3 record in the group, but Rutenis Paulauskas's team has been unlucky in dropping a couple of close contests. And the Lithuanians can actually afford a loss against Belarus without being eliminated unless Italy beat Russia. Paulauskas definitely would rather avoid that.

Head-to-Head: This will be the first match-ups of the former Soviet republics.

Last Time Out: Belarus lost their third straight game in the competition with a 66-51 loss against Russia. Lithuania failed to hold a 10-point lead late in the third quarter in losing to France 57-55 for their third straight defeat.

Key Match-Up: Belarus low post players Yelena Leuchanka and Anastasiya Veremeyenka vs. Lithuanian front court. With the Belarus point guards struggling, Buyalski could have the offense move more through Leuchanka and Veremeyenka. Both of the low post players will have to more involved in the game plan, meaning Gintare Petronyte, Egle Stakneviciene and Agne Ciudariene will be called upon to defend well.

X-Factor: Belarus forward Tatyana Troina. The sharpshooter is Belarus's leading scorer missed the team's first game in the Qualification Round with a leg injury and her playing will be a game-time decision. Belarus could desperately use Troina's outside shooting to give Leuchanka and Verameyenka some space to operate in the post.

Key Stat: 4.3. Lithuania have been unlucky in losing their last three games (Turkey, Russia and France) by an average of 4.3 points. Paulauskas's team has yet to find a way to win a close game down the stretch.

Sounding Off: "Losing is not an option for us now. We will play hard and give our all. We will also try to involve our younger generation to get them more into the team and try to give them some experience." Belarus coach Anatoli Buyalski.


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