After a disappointing loss to Australia Tuesday, Lithuania came back hard Wednesday to deliver a 30-point defeat to Korea, killing their chances to advance in the tournament
Early in the game, like most games for Lithuania, they got off to a slow start . Korea showed early why they were the FIBA Asia 2013 bronze-medal winners by moving the ball well and knocking down the open shots. They won the first period by a couple points while Lithuania struggled to close-out and had other defensive lapses.
By the second period though Lithuania began to wake up. The young guards, Šarūnas Vasilauskas and Adas Jusikevičius who were not impactful in the loss against Australia, came alive against the Koreans. Juskevičius hit several of his six total three-pointers during this period . Vasilauskas , while not blowing up the stat sheet , displayed much more confidence than previous games. Donatas Motiejūnas and Jonas Valančiūnas also continued to make their beautiful music together , with D-Mo feeding JV a couple times from the high-post for dunks. Both players field-goal percentage was great Wednesday against Korea. By halftime , Lithuania had established a cushion of around 10 points.
As is typical of team Lithuania, they went off and exploded in the third period. Even without the benefit of any shooting fouls called in LT’s favor, they got the ball inside to JV or kicked-out to Juskevičius on the perimeter for three if he was double-teamed. Donatas Motiejūnas continued to be impactful from inside and out . By the end of the third , the lead had ballooned to 20 points.
In the fourth, Lithuania didn’t take their foot off the gas, realizing point-differential is very important in FIBA. They continued their attacks down low with D-Mo relentlessly taking it to the cup. When the smoke cleared, Coach Kazlauskas’s students had utterly destroyed Korea 79:49, a 30-point beatdown!
High scorers for Lithuania were Adas Juskevičius who had 20 points on 6/7 3-pt FG. Apparently he is the leader in made-threes in the entire tournament now. Donatas Motiejūnas was the hero though with 18 points along with 7 rebounds on 9/13 shooting. He also had 5 assists too , including a beautiful behind-the-back assist to complete a fast-break. Jonas Valančiūnas also did well with 11 points and 8 rebounds on 6/7 FG .
Lithuania needed precisely a confidence-building victory just like this going into tomorrow’s game versus group leader Slovenia. In the two friendly matches when they played each other they were very close games, with each country winning one and losing one. If Lithuania wins, they will likely win Group D, giving them the best shot at the semi’s. If they lose , they will likely be third in group play which is the second-best variation. Ironically it would be very difficult for Lithuania if they take second in Group D. They will almost certainly match up with team USA in the group of 8 , which is a very tough game for anyone. Lithuania has shown signs of life and as long as they stick with what works, which is the NBA duo of D-Mo and JV, they got a shot. I don’t think anyone will forgive Coach K if we see the Lavrinovič brothers for extended minutes in another loss. Let’s hope for the best, the whole country is watching and waiting to see which Lirhuanian squad will show up tomorrow!
[divider]Lithuania vs Korea: – Game Highlights – Group D – [/divider]