by Paul Nilsen
Germany Coach Rene Spandauw has spoken of his pride in his players despite his team suffering a heartbreaking second loss of the tournament as they blew a double digit lead against Lithuania to fall 68-65.
It was a terrific comeback by Lithuania although German star Sophie Eder who claimed 23 points in the game did have a chance to force overtime but couldn't make any of her three free throws in the last seconds.
Spandauw didn't blame his team for losing and was preferring to remain upbeat and focusing on fighting to stay in the qualifying round by picking up a win in the last game.
"We didn't shoot the ball very well in the second half and this was the problem, not the zone defence."
"Importantly it was too many shots missed from shooters that we wanted to shoot the ball."
"My players can be very proud of themselves. I thought we worked really hard and we showed what we stand for after a terrible performance yesterday against Poland."
"These two games are now in the past and we are just going to keep working hard to remain in the qualification round."
It was a hugely enjoyable first quarter played at a frantic pace despite the heat inside the Arena. Germany started brightly with the first six points of the game but Lithuania scored the next ten to give them some confidence after their mauling in game one against France.
With a loss not an option for either team, Germany then made a run of their own with 9 unanswered points to build a five point lead at 20-15 and a margin they still had at the end of the period. Sophie Eder was in fine form posting 13 points with some nice inside moves as well as a couple of three-pointers.
Germany continued to exert control and by midway through the second quarter, they had built up their first double figure lead of the game at 34-24. Lithuanian coach Zivile Mikalauskaite clearly frustrated with his team who missed lay-ups which could have mean a far different story at the break.
However Germany left the court 44-32 ahead and their noisy supporters showed their appreciation having suffered the disappointment of the opening loss against Poland.
That applause quickly turned to concern as Lithuania found another gear causing Coach Spandauw to call a time-out after his team were on the wrong end of a 10-0 run and struggling to make a shot with Lithuania sagging defence giving no room at all under the basket.
While Germany continued to struggle offensively, they did regain some composure and stopped Lithuania from getting ahead, clinging to a 50-45 lead as they headed for what promised to be an intriguing finale.
Lithuania kept running the floor and getting to the hoop, something that paid dividends when they finally broke the psychological barrier and moved in front at 55-54 with six minutes left in the game.
Germany then also found some range from outside through Eder and Müller with a succession of three pointers helping them to regain the initiative but still they couldn't stop Lithuania getting to the hoop.
Inevitably the game went down to the wire with neither team adapting their approach down the stretch. Lithuania made some lay-ups and free throws but Germany just couldn't raise their shooting game to keep pace and take that first win.
Instead it was Lithuania who got off the mark with their first success, a gutsy performance and one that was made possible mainly by their forwards. Vita Zilinskaite who claimed 16 points while Monica Aleksaite also recorded 16 but also completed a hard working double-double by adding 14 rebounds.