|Kamile Nacickaite scored 11 points as Lithuania showed promise for the future, defeating Belarus with their young players shining|
By Joe Hewison
Turning Point: With under four minutes to play in the final quarter, Monika Grigalauskyte and Gabriele Gutkauskaite connected on back-to-back three pointers to give Lithuania a 62-61 lead and with it, the momentum.
Stats Don't Lie: Aliaksandra Tarasava was the only one of Belarus's starters to play more than 10 minutes, and that was only because her deputy Natallia Anufryienka found early foul trouble.
Game Hero: Gabriele Gutkauskaite scored a team-high 15 points but more importantly hit the go-ahead three-pointer in the fourth quarter.
Already-eliminated Lithuania restored some pride with an encouraging 72-67 win over Group D winners Belarus in their final game at EuroBasket Women 2013.
Now, according to coach Algirdas Paulauskas, competitive club basketball is key to this team's continuing development.
Lithuania had already been knocked out of the competition prior to this game following defeats to Croatia and the Czech Republic while Belarus' place at the top of the group was secure.
Therefore both teams took the opportunity to hand experience to their younger players and it was the Green Machine that came out on top behind 15 points and a crucial go-ahead fourth quarter three-pointer from Gabriele Gutkauskaite.
While he was encouraged by what he saw from his fresh-faced team, Paulauskas feels it is their exposure to high-level club basketball that will decide how far this team can go.
He said: "This game wasn't as important so both teams were making good decisions for next time. The win is always nice. I hope this game will be good for our young players and will be a good thing for our future.
"It's sad that it [Lithuania's campaign] ended so fast. We have a few young players that couldn't get to the tournament because of injury.
"The most important thing now is that our young players play for strong club teams in EuroLeague Women or EuroCup Women for more experience in top-level games.
"Not just in those competitions but with strong teams because if they don't play for strong clubs like this, we will slip behind."
Belarus rested the majority of their starters for much of the contest but still appeared in control until four minutes from time when three-pointers from Monika Grigalauskyte and Gutkauskaite fired Lithuania into a 62-61 lead.
Maryia Popova was the most impressive of Belarus' bench mob, logging 13 points including three long-range scores from as many attempts while starting point guard Aliaksandra Tarasava had 16.
Belarus Head Coach Rimantas Grigas
"It was an interesting game. We tried to solve our problems and the Lithuanian team paid attention to their problems."
Belarus player Maryia Popova
"We tried to give our best in this game. It was my first serious game of this championship. We put forth a great effort but in the end we just lacked a bit and lost the game."
Lithuania Head Coach Algirdas Paulauskas
"This game wasn't as important so both teams were making good decisions for next time. The win is always nice. I hope this game for our young players will be a good thing for our future."
Lithuania player Kamile Nacickaite
"Because we didn't have the chance to get to the next round we thought we would just come out and play our game, play together and leave France with a win. We played well together today, the shots were falling and we played better defence."