While the USA team resembled an NBA All Star line up, Toronto Raptor Jonas Valančiūnas would stand strong with the opening jump ball and points of the game before Houston Rocket menaced the Americans with a powerful block and rebound combo.
The ruthless drives of Adas Juškevičius would see the team’s late inclusion score 4/4 free throws in the game’s opening minutes, Lithuanian Martynas Pocius also exposed the Americans defence with a ground breaking lay-up.
Had it not been for Lithuania’s inaccuracy then the Baltic nation, with a population of 3 million, would have taken the lead over the USA at the first break thanks to a Darjuš Lavrinovič three point shot 21:16.
“They did something a little bit unusual which is something we should expect from outstanding coaches and outstanding teams,” said USA coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“The Lithuanians were driving an unoccupied low post and it was tough to get help there.”
American fans would feel uneasy after Stephen Curry and James Harden both collected two fouls apiece however the emotions were catastrophic amongst the Lithuanian section as captain Paulius Jankūnas broke his ankle while coach Jonas Kazlauskas gave away a technical foul.
Midway through the second quarter Darjuš Lavrinovič fractured his thumb in an off the play incident however positivity would surround the Lithuanians thanks to Mindaugas Kuzminskas.
The 24-year-old, who ironically plays in the Spanish venues as a forward for Unicaja Málaga, would shoot eight straight points; eventually shooting 12 of his 15 points in this quarter.
Lithuania would remain strong heading into the main break, trailing 35:43.
Then came the second half…
Ten unanswered points saw the USA unscathed heading into yet another Gold medal match, scoring 18:4 in the opening minutes of the second half.
“You’ve got to give credit to our stars for coming out hot and really setting the tone for the rest of the game,” said USA guard Klay Thompson.
Krzyzewski added, “The adjustment was made to get the ball to come back to the middle, something we don’t usually do but that’s where all their guys were”.
“Once we did that and started switching one through four it made it difficult for them.”
Lithuania had shot 9% from the three point line by the time Jonas Mačiulis shot truly late in the match.
The undermanned nation finished the game through some additional Valančiūnas free throws however by that time the damage was done as the United States now prepares for the winner of Serbia v France.
However before the two sides departed the court Darjuš Lavrinovič would retaliate to the trash talk of DeMarcus Cousins forcing both his twin Kšyštof and coach Krzyzewski to separate the shoving and niggle between the players.
“I have no idea what happened I just wanted to get into the middle and I figured they wouldn’t hit an old man,” said Krzyzewski.
He playfully added, “I’m also Polish so I thought those two things were a good separator and by the way, we know where Lithuania is.”
Lithuania must also analyse tonight’s game, playing off against the loser on Saturday in Madrid for the chance of back to back Bronze medals.
Mindaugas Kuzminskas (15), Jonas Valančiūnas (15), Adas Juškevičius (12), Martynas Pocius (10), Darjuš Lavrinovič (9).
Mindaugas Kuzminskas (9), Jonas Valančiūnas (7).
Renaldas Seibutis (2), Adas Juškevičius (2), Šarūnas Vasiliauskas (2).
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