Lithuania Hold On To Top Croatia

By David Hein

Lithuania took a strong hold on first place in the qualifying round Group F with a 93-83 victory over Croatia as Zygimantas Janavicius had an excellent all-around game with 19 points, six rebounds, seven assists and four steals.

Adas Juskevicius hit for 17 points while Simas Buterlevicius scored 16 points, Sarunas Vasiliauskas had 14 points and Donatas Motiejunas added 11 points, two steals and three blocks. The win pushed Lithuania's record to 3-1 in the group.

Croatia dropped to 2-2 despite Bojan Bogdanovic collecting 28 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Karlo Vragovic scored 13 points in a losing effort.

There were five lead changes in the early going and the game was tied at 17-17. Croatia then made the first run of the game with Mario Delas hitting two straight baskets to spark a 12-5 run and Darko Kunce's team led 31-24 after one period.

The gap was 36-27 in the beginning stages of the second quarter before Lithuania went on a 19-6 run with Juskevicius scoring 10 points and Buterlevicius knocking down two three-pointers for a 46-42 lead. Croatia closed the deficit to 50-47 at intermission.

Croatia kept pushing and finally took the lead after a technical foul on Vasiliauskas resulted in two Bogdanovic free throws and a layup by Vragovic for a 64-59 advantage.

Janavicius and Buterlevicius brought Rimvydas Samulenas's Lithuanians back to tie the game at 69-69 before Bogdanovic's dunk just before the buzzer made it 71-69 after three quarters.

Matej Karlovic's triple pushed the cushion to 74-69. But Lithuania would soon pull ahead and lead for good. Vaidas Cepukaitis knotted it with a three-point play and Vasiliauskas's three-ball helped push Lithuania ahead 79-74.

Croatia fought back to within 79-78, but Motiejunas scored six points down the stretch to secure the victory.


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