Lithuania couldn't have asked for a better start in the Termopsteps U16 European Championship Men after a 65-55 win over Spain in their Group B opener.
The team from Vilnius grabbed a 1-0 record while Spain dropped to 0-1.
Jonas Valanciunas led Lithuania behind a big fourth quarter with 15 points and seven rebounds, Dovydas Redikas added 14 while Vytenis Cizauskas added 11 points, five rebounds and four assists.
|Joan Tomas led Spain with 17 points in the loss.|
Spain managed to be in the game for only the first quarter, but once the Lithuanian machine got started, the game wasn't in their hands.
Besides a Spanish 13-0 run late in the third and early in the fourth, Lithuania was controlling all aspects and earned their victory.
"We made some changes in the line-up and that helped Spain come back to the game," explained Coach Kazys Maksvytis of the winning side after the game.
"We needed to react fast, and after some other changes we took off again and left them behind."
Tomas and Igual led Spain to score seven points in a row and take an 15-8 lead, but from that point on Lithuania was just everywhere.
After a 13-0 run, enough to take a 25-19 lead, Lithuania kept their momentum going. Cizauskas and Brencius pushed their team to a 31-22 half time lead but it wasn't over yet.
Redikas showed his aggressiveness as Lithuania climbed to a 51-28 lead after a three ball by Cizauskas and on what seemed the sure path to the win.
Spain wasn't ready to give up yet.
A three pointer by Tomas capped a run with 13 unanswered points, making the gap just ten with eight minutes to play.
Lithuania beat the shot clock to finally break the drought and if Spain had any thoughts not to give up yet, it was time for Valaciunas to step up.
He dominated the offensive board and finished with dunks as the gap climbed to 15 again.
Lithuania will meet Ukraine on the second day and Spain will take on Hungary.
Latvia Too Much For Poland
Meanhile Latvia started with a key 74-53 win over Poland in Group C.
The winners reach a 1-0 record now while Poland stand on 0-1.
After several minutes of hesitations Latvia took over the game already in the first quarter and never looked back.
Poland never returned to a single digit gap once Latvia passed that, and will hope for a better result tomorrow.
Davis Bertans led Latvia with 15 points, Andris Misters added 14 with eight rebounds while Edmunds Dukulis had 13 with nine rebounds.
Wojciech Leszczynski and Bartlomiej Bartoszccwicz scored ten for the Polish side.
Both teams took their time before getting their rhythm going. Only after 11 missed shots by both sides Latvia scored first after three minutes.
Poland kept struggling and saw their opponent take a 12-2 lead, before a 16-5 first quarter lead.
The Polish offense stayed ineffective behind the Latvian pressure as Bertans and Misters led their team to a 37-21 lead
Poland scored the last five points of the half to make it look decent, but that didn't last long.
Bertans kept making a difference, and his lay up set the margin on 20, 48-28.
From that point on the win was secured.
Latvia will face Croatia tomorrow as Poland will look for a first win against Turkey.