Martynas Gecevicius erupted for 31 points and Lithuania continued their impressive play in the UMCOR U18 European Championship Men by defeating France 80-73 in the teams' opening quarter-final round game.
Gecevicius shot 12-of-23 from the field and hit a crucial three-pointer with 1:22 to go in the game that gave his side a 76-71 lead.
“I would have to say this was one of my best games with Lithuania,” said Gecevicius.
|Paulius Kleiza tallied 14 points for Lithuania.|
Lithuania’s Zygimantas Janavicius was fouled with 15 seconds remaining.
He hit the first and misfired on the second, but Lithuania was able to come up with the rebound.
They passed the ball around the perimeter as France attempted to foul in vain and the waning seconds of the game ticked away.
Fittingly, Gecevicius hit a three as the final buzzer went off and Lithuania celebrated a hard fought victory at center court.
“I am so happy that we beat France because in the past we have always lost to them,” said Gecevicius.
Lithuania has won all four of their games in the competition.
|Nicolas Batum scored 17 for France.|
“Sure we are feeling confident after a game like this,” said Lithuanian head coach Rutjanis Paulauskas.
“But it will not be easy going up against Italy and Greece.”
The game was close throughout with 10 lead changes and 12 ties. No team had a lead bigger than seven during the entire game.
France, which has now lost three in a row, endured a six-minute stretch in the fourth quarter in which they scored just one field goal and had three points during the span.
Lithuania took the lead during the France drought and never trailed again.
Janavicius added 15 points and seven assists for Lithuania.
Paulius Kleiza and Marius Valukonis finished in double figures with 14 and 11 respectively.
Nicolas Batum scored 17 to lead France.