EuroBasket 2015, Lithuania makes final over Serbia

EuroBasket 2015The Lithuanian national team showed its determination and mental strength during the EuroBasket 2015 tournament by defeating red hot Serbia in the semi-final. A 64-67 win was enough to send the Lithuanians into the gold medal contest for the second time in as many editions of EuroBasket. Last time the team slipped to defeat in the final, so will be desperate to go one better against Spain in Sunday’s showpiece game.

Lithuania is hunting its first EuroBasket gold medal since consecutive wins way back in Basketball ancient history when the nation won the 1937 and 1939 European Championship. Spain will provide a tricky test, but arguably no more than Serbia provided here, after-all the Serbs entered this Final Four contest undefeated and had displayed the most dynamic attacking play in the tournament.

Serbia vs. Lithuania, 64-67
Serbia entered the contest in hot offensive form and was averaging 13 points per game on the fast break and 12 points per game in second phase transitions. That was 25 points Lithuania could ill afford to lose, so the team shut down the Serbian attack on the break and indeed conceded just two points in that manner in the whole contest.

That allowed Lithuania more room to set their defence and cut out the consistent Serbia attack, while the Lithuanians also made sure second chance opportunities were at a premium for their opponents with 40 rebounds compared to Serbia’s 29.

The game plan paid off immediately as Lithuania took a 17-22 lead through the first quarter, but Serbia soon struck back with a 17-13 run in the second frame that made it 34-35 during the long break. Still anybody’s game then, although Lithuania extended the lead in a nervy third act, using a 9-13 winning period to lead 43-48 after thirty minutes on the hardwood. Serbia fought back and with just 14 seconds left on the clock had made it a one point game (64-65) and Bogdan Bogdnanovic had a chance to take the lead. However, he missed the layup and Lithuania went to the charity strip to win the game.

Jonas Valanciunas topped the winning effort with 15 points, followed by Renaldas Seibutis and Mindaugas Kuzminksas with 13 points apiece. Mantas Kalnietis added 12 points and 9 rebounds to Lithuania’s cause.

Milos Teodosic led Serbia with 16 points, while Nemanja Bjelica and Miroslav Raduljica grabbed 10 points each.

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