Lithuania Check Out On A High

17.09.2011

EUROBASKET 2011

Turning Point: Having blown a ten point lead, the pressure was on the hosts down the stretch. But, both Rimantas Kaukenas and Darius Songaila executed when it mattered in the final minute and it gave the home side a critical edge as both teams finished the game on the free-throw line.

Game Heroes: Martynas Pocius made three triples on his way to 13 points, Paulius Jankunas played a nice cameo thanks to 4 of 5 shooting while captain Robertas Javtokas led by example with a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Stats Don't Lie: Lithuania were rampant on the glass and out-boarded Greece by 47-29.

15. Robertas Javtokas (Lithuania)
Lithuania captain Robertas Javtokas posted a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds

 

Hosts Lithuania wrapped up their tournament by edging Greece in a pulsating contest in front of a packed Kauno Arena to finish in fifth spot.

Having looked slightly lacklustre during the first two quarters, Lithuania were a different team in the second half as they secured a 73-69 win in a dramatic finale.

While it quite didn't make up for the disappointment of their quarter-final exit at the hands of F.Y.R. of Macedonia, it at least ensured they finished on a high to add to their spot in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Meanwhile, for Greece, their sixth place was far from a disaster taking into account their lengthy list of star absentees.

Lithuania found themselves on the back foot and playing catch-up for much of the opening half.

It could have been much worse, had it not been for some deadly shooting by Martynas Pocius and the early inside play of Robertas Javtokas.

Nick Calathes took his team out to an 18-12 advantage after securing back to back scores as he sliced to the hoop, while a nice high-flying alley-oop by Antonios Fotsis underlined the ascendancy of Greece.

As the partisan crowd tried to rouse their team, turnovers were hurting the home favourites, while in stark contrast Greece didn't spill the ball once in an impressive first quarter, which finished 20-14 in their favour.

The Greek big men were also doing a good job under the basket with center Kostas Koufos producing some nice work in the paint to help his team increase their lead to a 10 margin at 24-14.

Lithuania were working hard to keep their opponent in check but via another outside score by Pocius, they clawed their way back to within two points but Greece finished strongly to take a 37-32 advantage into the break.



Whatever Kestutis Kemzura said to his team in the locker room during the interval certainly worked, as they made a mockery of the way they laboured in the first half. Their defence and energy changed the game as they strung together a vibrant 24-11 third quarter performance to lead 56-48.

During the fourth quarter, Greece worked hard to get back into contention and with 90 seconds remaining, outside scores by Vasileiadis and Fotsis ensured the game hung in the balance at 65-65.

After Kaukenas and Songaila both made big plays, a big triple by Nick Calathes kept the majority of the crowd sweating a little longer but Lithuania iced the necessary free-throws to get the job done.


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