Lithuania didn’t let their double-digit lead slip away completely as they had done a night before against Serbia and instead held on to beat Turkey 65-55 and claim the bronze medal in Rethimnon tonight.
The game was close in the first half but Lithuania used a 14-1 run spanning the end of the third quarter and the start of the final period to go up by 15, 56-41 before holding off a late
rally by Turkey to win their first medal in this competition.
|Enes Kanter was a rock for Turkey, scoring 15 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. |
‘This is a great result for us. It’s hard to put it into words. I haven’t really taken it in,’ Lithuania head coach Marius Linartas said afterwards.
‘We had to call a time out in the fourth quarter when our lead went from 15 down to seven because our players were trying to run out the clock but there was too long left in the game to do that.’
After Lithuania went ahead 56-41, Turkey answered immediately with eight unanswered points to cut the deficit to seven on a lay up by Genco Dilik.
However that was as close as they got as Lithuania seemed to learn the lessons from their heartbreaking defeat to Serbia last night and stayed aggressive until the very end, trying to re-establish their double-digit lead.
And they did just that when Gilvydas Biruta – who paved the way with 23 points and 13 rebounds – hit a free-throw for a 60-50 advantage with two minutes left to play.
Pertev Onguner hit a corner three to bring Turkey within nine, 62-53, but Deividas Nazarovas made a tough lay up in the final minute and that put the game out of reach for the former champions of this competition.
‘We came into this tournament with a goal of getting a medal. So even though it was tough to get over the defeat to Serbia last night, we knew there was still something to play for and that is what motivated us today,’ Linartas added.
Turkey started well and edged ahead 11-7 on Firat Toz’s three-pointer but Lithuania came back to be within one, 13-12, by the end of first quarter.
Mustafa Derin’s men had a rough start to the second quarter, turning the ball over several
times in a row because of offensive fouls or bad passes and failed to score a field goal until there were four minutes left to play in the first half.
|Gilvydas Biruta led Lithuania with 24 points and 13 boards. |
Lithuania went ahead 21-16 on a Biruta basket and, despite Turkey eventually finding some offensive firepower through Can M Mutaf, stayed ahead at the half, 29-26.
Enes Kanter had 10 points and 12 rebounds at the break to keep Turkey within striking distance.
The game stayed close early in the second half with Biruta putting his team up by six, 36-30, on a pair of free-throws before Dilik immediately followed by scoring five unanswered points to bring Turkey back within one.
Augustas Peciukevicius hit a three-pointer with under three minutes left in the third period to give Lithuania a 42-35 advantage.
Kanter then made a lay up and Mutaf hit a three-pointer as Turkey came back to within two, 42-40.
But Lithuania then went on its 14-1 run to put enough distance between themselves and their opponents to breath easy.
Kanter finished with 15 points and 17 rebounds and Dilik added 13 for Turkey.