Lithuania opened its campaign in Slovenia with a notch in the loss column after a more defensive and disciplined Serbia controlled a physical game.
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First of all Serbia out-hustled Lithuania. Knowing that Lithuania is short of quality point guards the Serbs kept constant pressure on the ball-carriers and never let them control the game as they had against weaker teams in the warm-ups.
Kalnietis responded by top scoring with 17, but he and Seibutis were never able to set up a consistent offence that could hurt Serbia. And both were forced to play major minutes in a team dominated by big men that were not producing.
Kazlauskas threw his players around, but a team never emerged from the mix as the Lithuanians continued to put their trust in long shots while Serbia showed the sensible way to play – varied offence built on good defence.
Lithuania on the other hand had everyone playing for themselves, taking the early shot instead of working it around. Seems all players at some stage were taking it on themselves to hit the big shot, but when none fell, so did the team.
We can throw a bit of pre-tournament controversy into the mix, a bit of over-confidence and hopefully this loss will serve as a kick start to a team that has so far lacked unity.
Poor foul shooting continues to haunt the team, and 6 from 12 is simply not good enough. Foul trouble again for Valanciunas as he failed to make any impact on the game and was given a lesson courtesy of Krstic.
But while I can easily criticise from the sidelines, everyone can have a bad day, and let’s hope that’s all there was to it.
A quick rebound and a confidence boosting win is what any doctor would prescribe, but today we are up against Macedonia, who are also playing for their place and pride after unexpectedly going down to Montenegro.
For now all we can do now is continue to support our team and trust that the coaching staff and players understand these problems better than us – and I’ve no doubt they do.
See you there tonight – wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
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