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15.09.2011, 15:30h
15.09.2011, 15:30h
77-80
20 - 1913 - 2524 - 1920 - 17
20 - 1913 - 2524 - 1920 - 17
Venue: Kaunas (LTU) |
Spectators: 11000 |
Referees: Fabio Facchini (ITA), Srdan Dozai (CRO), Spyridon Gontas (GRE)

GAME REPORT


Lithuania Keep Olympic Hopes Alive

Turning Point: After Erazem Lorbek sunk a big triple to put Slovenia in front by a point with just over a minute to go, Mantas Kalnietis found himself home alone from downtown and made the shot to reply and switch them momentum.

Game Hero: Sarunas Jasikevicius had 12 points and 7 assists for Lithuania.

Stats Don't Lie: Lithuania finished with 20 assists.



Lithuania dodged a bullet against Slovenia to book a spot at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament amidst incredible tension in Kaunas.

Having led by 11 points, Lithuania almost blew it during a nervous second half but eventually prevailed 80-77 as Slovenia failed to force overtime with the final possession of the game.

Both teams had little time to bounce back from their respective quarter-final disappointments but still managed to serve up high drama for the fans.

There was a certain sense of déjà vu for Slovenian fans who watched their team establish a healthy lead during the early stages, as they did against Spain during their quarter-final match-up, only to suffer a drop later in the game.

They raced into a 14-6 advantage to catch Lithuania cold and perhaps suffering a hangover from their gut wrenching loss to F.Y.R. of Macedonia.

However after a time-out by Kestutis Kemzura, Lithuania stirred into action. They picked up their defensive intensity and closed to within a point, at 20-19 heading into the second quarter.

Slovenia then went into meltdown ahead of half-time. A 7-0 run for Lithuania gave them some real momentum as they went 34-28 in front.

Their superior energy lifted the large crowd inside the Arena with a sunk by Robertas Javtokas going down particularly well with the home support.

Their new found superiority was then underlined when Mantas Kalnietis finished in the same style in transition to hand Lithuania a commanding 44-33 lead at the break.

It looked bleak for Slovenia but unlike their previous game, they found some resolve to respond. Seven answered points applied some pressure to Lithuania and by two minutes into the final quarter, their comeback was complete as Matjaz Smodis handed them the lead.

If there had been a sense of déjà vu for Slovenia earlier in the game, Lithuanian fans could have been forgiven for thinking they were also seeing the same flaws which cost them a place in the semi-finals.

Their team continued to settle for low-percentage jump shots and for a while it was tough going for the hosts - especially when a triple from the corner from Sasa Ozbolt put Slovenia 68-65 up.

Lithuania regained their composure, if only just, and in a nerve-wracking conclusion, a three-pointer by Kalnietis proved decisive as Goran Dragic failed to force overtime from the corner.

COACH QUOTES


Quotes Slovenia vs. Lithuania

Lithuania Head Coach Kestutis Kemzura:
"It was difficult for us coming into this game. We had little time to recover physically and mentally. My players showed character. The game felt like yesterday's game except that this time we rebounded well and we didn't turn the ball over in the end. I'm happy how we have behaved as a team. Expectations here were high. We have one more game left to play and we want to finish strong. We have to do it for ourselves and for our fans."

Lithuania Center Jonas Valanciunas:
"The game was really hard because we didn't have much time to recover. We slept really badly after yesterday's game. The good thing is that we found power to fight until the end. I hope we can finish the tournament well. Today we wanted to prove to our fans and to our country that we can play and have a chance to go to the Olympics."

Slovenia Head Coach Bozidar Maljkovic:
"Despite the defeat, I am satisfied with the play of my team. I' m proud of what they did today. The only thing that concerned me ahead of our EuroBasket preparation was turnovers. We lost today because of two turnovers. But these things happen."

Slovenia Power Forward Erazem Lorbek:

"It was a very difficult game for us. We played 40 minutes well but unfortunately we came up short in the end. We can be satisfied with our performance."

Top performers

Accumulated statistics

47.0%

31/66
FG
M/A

46.9%

30/64

53.5%

23/43
FG2P
M/A

50.0%

27/54

34.8%

8/23
FG3P
M/A

30.0%

3/10

70.0%

7/10
FT
M/A

85.0%

17/20

33

11/22
RT
RO/RD

38

12/26

14

AS

20

12

TO

11

8

ST

8

5

BS

3

24

PF

18

77

Pts

80

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