|01 August 2008|
A rain of three-pointers by Ukraine was almost worth a shocking win over Lithuania in the opener of Group A.
Despite hitting 19 three-pointers Ukraine lost 93-91, and ironically Ukraine needed just one more three ball to win the game.
Martynas Gecevicius hit 30 points and seven rebounds for the winning side, followed by 15 points and six boards by Vytenis Lipkevicius.
Ukraine saw a stunning show by shooting guard Sergey Gladyr who hit 38 points, including 11 three-pointers out of 17 attempts with six rebounds and four assists. Oleksander Kolchenko added 22 points.
"There's not much you can do when the opponent scores more three-pointers than two pointers," said the winning coach Rimvydas Samulenas after the game.
"I don't think they'll shoot like that again in the competition. We played more aggressive defense in the last minutes and that's what won the game for us."
Kolchenko put Ukraine up early in the game, but Gecevicius battled back with ten early points. Denys Lukashov beat the buzzer from half court to give Ukraine a 26-22 lead after one quarter, as the Ukrainian momentum continued.
Gecevicus continued to score as Ukraine lost Vsevolod Shurmel who fouled out and saw Oleksandr Sizov pick his fourth foul.
Nevertheless they stayed in the game thanks to a great first half performance by Gladyr already with 20 points on 70% accuracy.
Lithuania controlled the boards and finally took the lead to finish the first half with a 47-49 lead.
Ukraine continued to display a great shooting day. Kolchenko and Vadym Norenko hit from long range to make it 63-55, but saw a 9-0 run coming the other way and gave Lithuania the lead back.
Gladyr finally found his rhythm to finish with back-to-back three-balls and give Ukraine a 73-69 lead entering the last quarter.
Gladyr and Gecevicius continued their private battle from long range, but the first picked up his fourth foul with 5:30 to play and his team up 84-83.
From that point, once Ukraine started to miss their long range attempts, Lithuania took over the game and climbed to an 91-84 lead entering the last 3:30 of the game.
Gladyr hit a big three-pointer to keep the hopes alive, and had a chance to tie the game leading a fast break down 93-90 in the last seconds. He chose to go to the basket, and was fouled.
After missing the second on purpose the ball slipped out of bounds to seal the win.
"I didn't see how much time is left on the clock in the last play. It doesn't matter how much I scored. I just wish we had won the game," said the great scorer.
Lithuania plays Croatia tomorrow, while Ukraine will take on Greece.