Lithuania The Team To Beat

04.08.2005

Lithuania will go into the semi-finals as the gold medal favourites at the Termosteps U16 European Championship in Leon, Spain.

The Lithuanians confirmed their status as the competition's top side with an 87-76 defeat of home side Spain in a game which determined first place in Group E of the quarter-final round.

However, they had to withstand a furious 4th quarter fightback from Spain, who came back from the dead to nearly pull off a remarkable upset.

Spain were nothing less than awful in the opening half and trailed 51-26 at the break.

The Spanish were simply unable to hold onto the ball, committing 13 turnovers in 20 minutes for which Lithuania made them pay dearly.

Lithuania put up a barrage of three-point shots, 50% of which found their target as they hit 9/18 attempts to keep Spain well pinned back.

The only negative for Lithuania was the loss of center Vaidas Cepukaitis after 8 minutes with a badly sprained ankle.

Spain trailed by as many as 28 points, before they started to show signs of life in the fourth quarter.

Suddenly it was Lithuania who were not able to retain posssession, and Spain opend the final period with a 21-3 run which saw them close the gap to 4 points, 70-66 on a Pablo Aguilar dunk.

But just when it seemed that Spain had enough momentum to go on to win, Lithuania rediscovered their poise.

They produced a 9-0 run after Aguilar's dunk to leave Spain too much of a lead to overhaul in too little time, and secured the win, 87-76.

Vytenis Lipkevicius led five Lithuanian players in double figures with 17 points.

Aguilar finished with a game high 21 points for Spain.

In the group's second match-up, Russia restored some pride with a 70-52 defeat against Ukraine.

Russia's outstanding forward Pavel Gromyko had 31 points and 12 rebounds in the win.


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