Lithuania Leave It Late Against Latvia

28 July 2009

Lithuania pulled away in the third and fourth quarters to turn a close game into a beating, crushing Latvia 89-60 in the Qualifying Round at the U18 European Championship Men in Hagondange, France.

Latvia proved a worthy adversary as they recovered from an early nine-point deficit to tie the game at 37 with 8:15 left to play in the third quarter but were then outscored 62-23 as Lithuania, who had a poor shooting first half, eventually found their stroke to remain the only undefeated team in the tournament.

The Lithuanians uncharacteristically missed all 11 of their three-point attempts in the first half as part of a dismal 15 for 44 shooting effort. To make matters worse, they only made half of their 14 foul shots.

At the other end of the court, their 14 fouls in the first two quarters allowed Latvia to get to foul line 14 times and they converted nine of those to trail by just three, 37-34 at the half.

Martins Meiers had 10 first-half points to lead the way for Latvia who trailed 21-12 early in the second quarter before erasing that deficit altogether and even taking the lead - if ever so briefly - when Klavs Freimanis made two free-throws for a 25-24 score with just over five minutes left in the half.

And they spent much of the rest of those last five minutes at the foul line as Lithuania got into the penalty early and fouled often.

Marius Linartas' men though showed why they are one of the teams to reckon with in the tournament as they found their stroke in the second half.

They drained four of their seven attempts from downtown and made a better effort of going inside for higher percentage shots, as centre Jonas Valanciunas scored a game-high 20 points.

Meiers finished with 17 points for Latvia who fell to 1-3 in Group F.

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