During the time-outs we got to listen in on what the Greek coach was saying to his players and I can tell you as an English speaker it was rough listening too him as he tried to be inspiring in his non-native English. Kazys Maksvytis, coach of Lithuania on the other hand made all the necessary in game adjustments that every player in the huddle completely understood. This was evident on the court as the players made the necessary adjustments required to get the win.

Greece was firmly in the driver’s seat in the first half, having dominated from about midway through the first quarter up until the team went into the locker-room at halftime. By midway through the third period however, Lithuania had adapted and were utterly destroying their Greek opponents. The Greek coach, who I’m sure is a good coach and knows his basketball, just couldn’t seem to find the words to inspire his players when the chips were down. If the second half was a standalone game, LT would have won it by a whopping 29 points! When the smoke cleared from this bloodbath, LT came away on top 92:67. They are now bound for the quarter finals, the promised land where so many great Lithuanian teams have gone ever since Independence!
Rokas Jokubaitis

Player grades today for team Lithuania

Rokas Jokubaitis: A

The young Lithuanian point guard continued proving in this game that he is the future of Lithuanian basketball. It’s so nice to see that future hope come at the guard spot where we’ve lacked highest level talent in the recent past. Tonight Rokas had 19 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals to round out an incredible performance in less than 20 minutes on the floor. What impressed me the most was how he maintained his composure, taking care of the ball despite the relentless pressure of the Greek defense. Their defense, at least in the first half, was stifling. He was also able to knock down several three pointers to make him a triple threat to go along with great dribble penetration to the rim and great passing ability. I hope he is relishing his new role as a team leader because I guarantee you the whole nation is loving this young player!

Ignas Bradzeikis: A+

What didn’t this outstanding young forward do today? From the start of the game when he drained a three pointer to put Lithuania on the scoreboard to the very end when he hit a dagger to help seal the deal along with ever hustle play in between, Ignas is showing why he will be a fixture on the national team for quite some time! He reminds me of Al Pacino in the great movie the Godfather. In this iconic movie, Michael Corleone, raised in America has little to no knowledge of Italian. After a couple months in the old country, he is speaking Italian fluently and understands the culture like he was fresh off the boat. It’s such a great feeling to see world Lithuanians like Ignas coming back home to the motherland and making a name for himself! In this game after 25 minutes on the floor he had 18 points and 3 rebounds to go along with perfect (3/3) from beyond the arc. His defensive versatility and athleticism were key pieces of the puzzle in getting the win tonight. His fast pace, NBA style is truly helping the team forge a new and potent identity!
Ignas Brazdeikis

Jonas Valančiunas: B

JV had a good performance today, especially in the second half when he wasn’t constantly being harassed and triple teamed in the paint. It seems after over a decade of watching his career arc, whenever JV gets going early he tends to have monster games. Due to the coordinated effort to take him out of the game early by the Greeks, this seemed to put a bit of a damper on his performance. You can usually bank on JV getting a double-double, but today he had 15 points and 9 rebounds so he was just shy of one. Most of his scoring came during the magnificent second half run where the Greek defense had too many holes to plug at once leaving JV uncontested in the paint where he definitely is able to dominate. I know he is saving his best performance for team USA, a team he knows quite well from playing many years in the NBA. I am so very proud of him stepping into the role as the leader of the LT National Team. His patriotism and dedication to the squad is truly inspiring! As I stated before this balanced version on the team utilizes his strengths very efficiently.

Honorable Mentions – Donatas Motiejunas: A and Eimantas Bendžius: A

Watching Lithuania’s role players step up and have great performances was great to see in this match up. Donatas Motiejunas provided an alternative to the playing style of JV, giving the team the extra ability to have our big man blitz the pick and roll at the point of attack. In the first half , when the slower JV kept dropping back down after the screen, the Greek point guard Walkup was just killing us making the vast majority of his long range shots. JV wasn’t nearly as effective in this particular matchup on defense as D-Mo, who has proven to be a very capable backup to JV throughout this tourney. In this one he had 8 points, 5 rebounds and 1 assist along with a three pointer to keep the opposing defense honest. While the strength of JV is dominating in the paint, D-Mo has the versatility to do a wide variety of things and they complement each other at the center spot nicely as opposed to Domas and JV who were seemingly stepping on each other’s toes.
Donatas Motiejūnas

Eimantas Bendžius proved to be a very clutch player today which is also fantastic to see. He is definitely a needed role player who can open up threats when the main stars are going cold. In this match he had 15 points off (3/4) on threes which all seem to come when we needed them the most. This guy can definitely shoot the three ball which has been crucial to Lithuania’s success in the tourney thus far and will continue to help provide the extra floor space for JV to work in the paint. Someone like Eimantas, who is truly a credible threat from beyond the arc is a great asset to Lithuania.

Facing the Juggernaut - team USA

Just to be clear, Lithuania has now officially reached the quarterfinals. This match against the USA is for positioning only in that quarterfinal, it is not a knockout game. That being said, I know LT after a great performance thus far wants to make a statement of defeating the gold medal contender very badly! I am born and raised in America and love my country. That being said, I’m still rooting for Lithuania! There’s something to be said for a nation that has been constantly kicked around throughout its history being able to dominate in a major sport like basketball. My ancestral homeland seems to produce a never give up mentality as they relish their role here as David versus the Goliath of team USA. They should play loose and free, this freedom might just be the x-factor that they need to defeat a juggernaut like team USA, loaded with NBA talent. It would be the biggest moral victory if they won this next one even if they didn’t win another game after that. Taking down USA is a great honor, and one we will talk about many years later, just like the great victory over USA in 2004 Athens Olympics led by Saunas Jasikevičius and his unbelievable late game heroics. Let’s get it! #MesUžLietuva

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