Lithuania beat Latvia 82-58 in what started out as an entertaining and fast paced ‘Baltic Derby’ but then turned into a one-sided affair in Rethymno tonight.
Marius Linartas’ side jumped to an early 17-7 lead but forward Janis Antrops helped Latvia narrow the gap to two, 22-20, early in the second quarter.
However, Giedrus Staniulis and Ovidijus Varanauskas combined for 11 points as Lithuania got their lead back to double digits and then stretched it some more to take a 14-point advantage, 44-30, at the break on a tip-in by Gilvydas Biruta in the closing seconds of the first half.
After the break, Lithuania kept pounding the ball inside and attacking the rim relentlessly with the same degree of success as Juris Petrov’s men fell behind by 21 points, 61-40, on Mantas Kadzevicius’ lay up with two minutes left in the third period.
Lithuania knew things were definitely going their way when Varanauskas beat the third quarter buzzer with his desperate heave from beyond half court for a commanding 67-46 lead – and his first made three-pointer of the tournament.
That shot looked like it dealt a big blow to Latvia who lost some of their hunger and at times were just content with going through the motions in the final quarter – not with much success.
Varanauskas had a team-high 21 points for Lithuania while Giedrius Staniulis chalked up 12 points and 16 rebounds.
‘This is a big win for us. We have played Latvia many times and it’s always good when we can beat them,’ said team captain Augustas Peciukevicius who chipped in with 13 points and five rebounds.
‘They played hard for most of the game so we couldn’t really relax even when we had a good lead.’
Janis Antrops had a game-high 26 points for Latvia.