Never give up and you’ll succeed or how Lithuania shocked Spain

Lithuania’s win against Spain was a shock to many. I was a bit surprised myself – not that my fellow countrymen won, but that they managed to claw their way back into the game despite trailing by 18 points in the third quarter. To be fair, I was pretty confident that Lithuania could pull an upset… Many had the illusion that the Lithuanian team was just going to be there to be kicked around. Yes, this indeed is not the best roster we could have offered in terms of the ‘bling’ factor and bank account content.

They’re not going to be favorites in any game against the bigger teams, you name it – from USA to Greece, from Turkey to Spain… But one thing they’ve got more of is heart and desire. That’s what was on show in the game against Spain. This team is capable of accomplishing many things due to their will, the capacity to shake off a bad quarter or two, forget it and restart again.

The Lithuanian game relies on aggressive defense, good rebounding and a quick first pass (or Kalnietis pushing the tempo) to set up fast-break opportunities or at least catch the opposition not fully set up defensively as this team is not so good at the half-court game…

The Spanish starlet Ricky Rubio was involved in one of the game’s top plays… However, on the receiving end – take a look at this terrible mistake on defense. Kalnietis inbounds the ball to himself via Rubio and goes for two easy points… You can also check piece about this play and about the Lithuanian victory in general.

Guys like Martynas Pocius, Jonas Mačiulis took intensity on defense to another level in the fourth quarter. They knew they needed to give all they had in the tank and they did. It paid off. I don’t even want to compare it with last year’s team… Too many bad words would come out of my mouth, so I’ll just keep complimenting these guys, who’re currently working their bums out in Turkey! “This team has got balls,” that’s what the guard of this team Tomas Delininkaitis told Lithuanian media. And I totally agree!

It might be sloppy – falling behind by 17 to Canada and by 18 versus Spain – but these Lithuanians get the job done. And that’s the most important – they try, they fight and they succeed, at least so far. If you’re a Lithuanian fan it might be bad for your health… Anyway, there’s a good chance you’ll still be filled with good emotions after this tournament as this team does play a very entertaining style of basketball when they get a chance to run.  You might still be in hospital though…

I don’t want to say anything prematurely and before the real battles begin, but had Lithuania ranked only 11…

That’s probably the best video I’ve found to highlight the Lithuanian comeback against Spain. Enjoy peeps! I might just go and watch it again myself!

If they keep playing like this… Be scared!

Oh by the way, just a thought I wanted to note. My twitter-friend and Latvian TV announcer for this tournament,  Edgars Buļs (@EB__23), and I came to a conclusion that this Lithuanian team has finally understood defense is part of the game. Former Lithuanian teams were playing the way the Golden Team which won Eurobasket in 2003 did – just go out there and outscore the opponents – nothing more, nothing less. However, the problem was that generation has been falling off step by step – no Jasikevičius, no Macijauskas, no Šiškauskas… The magic trio! That’s what’s different between this year’s side and the one that played in Poland – they actually know that they need to defend to win the game…

Another thing, Linas Kleiza has not been acting like his usual self – no more talking with the refs, no more stupid flares of emotions – I might just wonder if it might be down to the climate in the team. Don’t want to claim anything, but many say that this team came to work, others previously wanted to have some fun… I hope it’s not a short-term thing with Kleiza – he simply is a better player when he keeps his emotions to himself!

Go Kleiza, go Lithuania – heading to watch the game against France!

Never give up and you’ll succeed or how Lithuania shocked Spain

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