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France Wins Gold At Eurobasket

France defeated Lithuania 80-66 to win their first ever European Championship and the Spurs Tony Parker won the 2013 Eurobasket MVP.

France got off to a fast start behind the hot shooting of the Trail Blazers Nicolas Batum who had 17 points on 6-7 shooting and finished the game on the strong play of Boris Diaw who had 15 points. Batum didn’t score in the second half.

MVP Parker only had 4 points on 2-7 shooting in the first half, but finished with 12 points on 4-6 shooting in the second half, however, France didn’t need a heroic effort from their point guard to win this game. France dominated Lithuania on the boards 42-25 to control almost every aspect of what happened on the court. Parker was also named to the All-Tournament team.

Linas Kleiza led Lithuania with 20 points, but he only had 4 points in the second half. Kleiza was named to the All-Tournament team after the game. Mantas Kalnietis scored 19 points for Lithuania in the loss.

Lithuania didn’t collect a single offensive rebound in this game until Head Coach Jonas Kazlauskas subbed in Jonas Valanciunas with 7:25 left to go in the fourth quarter. Kazlauskas had only played Valanciunas for 3.5 frantic minutes in the second quarter before this. Valanciunas collected 3 rebounds and 2 blocked shots in the fourth quarter, but the game was well out of hand at that point.

It was a great team effort from France throughout the game. France had the normally strong Lithuanian defense in disarray and out hustled their opponent for rebounds and loose balls to earn the victory.

France defeated host country Slovenia and arch-rival Spain on their way to the Gold.

France vs Lithuania Gold Medal Game boxscore

Spurs Tony Parker Should Win MVP At Eurobasket

The San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker led France past Spain in OT in the semi-finals at Eurobasket on Friday to book his team’s spot in the Gold Medal game on Sunday at 3pm ET and based on his play at the tournament, he should be the easy winner of the 2013 Eurobasket MVP.

Parker is the only player in the top 5 in scoring at the European Championship that made it to the second round.

Bobcats Jeffrey Taylor played 5 games for Sweden in the preliminary round and averaged 21.2 points per game shooting 46.8 percent from the field to lead all scorers. The Charlotte small forward showed what he could do as the go-to-guy and the Bobcats should be excited to see what last year’s rookie can bring to the team this season.

Bosnia and Herzegovina featured the Nets Mirza Teletovic (second at 21 points per game) and Nihad Djedovic (fourth at 17.8 points per game) but they were eliminated in the preliminary round after 5 games as well. Teletovic scored in bunches, but he shot 38.6 percent, so the message he sent to the Nets is not as clear as what Taylor provided Charlotte.

Bo McCalebb averaged 17.6 points per game for Macedonia over 5 games to hold down fifth in scoring.

With only the Gold Medal game left to go in the tournament, Parker has averaged 19.7 points per game and if his clutch quarter-final and semi-final performances are any indication, he will finish this tournament averaging over 20 points. Parker scored 27 points against host country Slovenia in the quarter-finals and 32 points versus Spain in the semi-finals. France wouldn’t be in the Gold Medal game without Parker and without him, it’s unlikely they would have even made the medal rounds at all.

France shouldn’t be such a one-man show at the offensive end of the court. They have a roster loaded with current and former NBA talent. Parker is playing with Spurs teammates Boris Diaw and Nando De Colo and joined by the Trail Blazers Nicolas Batum. Mickael Gelebale played with the Timberwolves and Johan Petro played with Hawks last season. Center Alexis Ajinca has previously played with Bobcats, Mavericks and Raptors.

However, the five-time NBA All-Star Parker at 31-year-old is the heart, soul and mentor for France and he appreciates that the Spurs organization permits him to play for his National team according to Mark Woods and the player interviews on ESPN.

“They know that I love playing for my country,” Parker said. “I take a lot of pride playing for France. I’m just happy that I have the Spurs organization to let me do that.

“I try to teach the young guys on my team. I try to explain how every detail is very important.”

After the semi-final game, the Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio who plays for Spain described what Parker means to his team.

“France has a good team, a great generation with Tony Parker leading that generation. There is no secret (to guarding Parker), it is almost impossible. For me, he is one of my idols. I love the way he plays. It is hard to stop him, but it is a team effort, not only one guy can stop him. A center and a wing are going to help a lot.”

Lithuania defeated France in the second round 76-62 by holding Parker to only 11 points, so the Gold Medal game provides the NBA All-Star a chance to redeem himself in the biggest game of the tournament. However, the Eurobasket organizers should already have Parker’s name on the MVP award no matter what happens. No one has put in bigger performances when it mattered or been more important to his team’s success throughout the tournament.

Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report. You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors

Lithuania Goes For Gold AT Eurobasket

Lithuania booked their spot in the Gold medal game at Eurobasket on Sunday against either Spain or France by defeating Croatia 77-62.

Lithuania went 3-3 from three-point range to start this game and managed at 24-19 first quarter lead on 12 points from veteran Linas Kleiza. It was Kleiza holding the Lithuanian offense together at the start as he had 17 points in under 11 minutes to help his team get out to 29-20 lead early in the second quarter.

As Kleiza tired, Head Coach Jonas Kazlauskas subbed in Donatas Motiejunas and Jonas Valanciunas and the Lithuanian offense slumped permitting Croatia to tie the game at 31. However, unlike in previous contests where Kazlauskas was quick to sub-out Valanciunas on mistakes or a change in momentum, the coach left his big man in the game and kept running plays through the post. Valanciunas rewarded his coach with 3 blocked shots and 6 points on 3-3 shooting to help Lithuania reclaim a 40-37 lead at the half.

Kazlauskas started the veteran Darjus Lavrinovic at center and replaced him with Robertas Javtokas in both the first and third quarters before going to Valanciunas to close out each half. The two older veterans played the classic “old man” game of being in the right spot at the right time on defense as both Lavrinovic and Javtokas play mostly below the rim. They were instrumental in frustrating Croatia early and then Valanciunas came in as the shot blocker to close down the paint. Valanciunas finished with 5 blocked shots in 20 minutes of action today.

Lithuanian small forward Jonas Maciulis led all scorers with 23 points on 4 three-pointers and 7-9 free throws. Linas Kleiza ended up with a 22 point 11 rebound double-double. Point guard Mantas Kalnietis had 18 points on 7-15 shooting.

Bojan Bogdanovic led Croatia in scoring with 15 points on 5-15 shooting. Former Raptors point guard Roko Leni Ukic led Croatia with 7 rebounds and 5 assists but shot 0-7. Croatia hit on just 35.4 percent from the field and they threw bricks from the three-point line, finishing with just 3-20 from deep.

This game got out of control when Lithuania went on an 18-3 run over the first 7.5 minutes of the third quarter to build up a 58-40 lead that Croatia had no answer for.

Rock Buračas of Basketnews reported Kazlauskas was proud of his team.

“I am happy and satisfied, “Kazlauskas said. We understand that there is still another step, but today I am proud of the team and the all men in the game. They gave everything on defense.”

Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report. You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors

2013 Eurobasket Semi-Finals Are Set

The 2013 Eurobasket quarter-finals wrapped up today after Lithuania hung on against the overachieving team from Italy 81-77 to set the semi-final matchups on Friday. Spain, France, Croatia and Lithuania have all punched their tickets to the 2014 World Cup in Spain by advancing to the medal rounds. Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine and Italy will have to battle it out to determine the fifth through eighth seeds. The top six teams excluding Spain will qualify for the World Cup.

The quarter-finals started on Wednesday and Spain crushed Serbia 90-60 behind 22 points from Sergio Rodriguez and 19 points from Rudy Fernandez. Then France held off host country Slovenia 72-63 on the back of 27 points from the Spurs Tony Parker. The Suns Goran Dragic had 18 points to lead Slovenia.

On Thursday, Croatia got back to the semi-finals for the first time in 18 years by defeating the Ukraine 84-72. Shooting guard Krunoslav Simon had his best game of the tournament, scoring 23 points to lead both teams. American born Eugene Jeter had 19 points for the Ukraine. A short time later Lithuania came back from a third quarter deficit to hold Italy scoreless for almost 6 minutes to start the final frame and take a 72-58 lead that Italy couldn’t overcome. The Spurs Marco Belinelli led all scorers with 22 points and piled in 10 points in the final 4 minutes to almost pull this game out. Renaldas Seibutis and Mantas Kalnietis each had 17 points to lead Lithuania. The Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas played 11 minutes and had just 2 points and 1 rebound in this perimeter-oriented game.

It appears Italy did Lithuania a huge favor by pulling out that come-from-behind overtime win over Spain on Monday in the second round that enabled second place Lithuania to avoid Spain in the quarter-finals. Now Lithuania can’t be tested by the most dangerous team in the tournament until they play for a medal.

On Friday Lithuania plays Croatia followed by Spain versus France to determine who plays in the 2013 Eurobasket gold medal game on Sunday.

Spain vs Serbia boxscore

France vs Slovenia boxscore

Croatia vs Ukraine boxscore

Lithuania vs Italy boxscore

Lithuania Defeats the Ukraine 70-63

Lithuania defeated the Ukraine 70-63 on Sunday to finish in second place in Group E and advance to quarter-finals action next week at the 2013 Eurobasket in Slovenia.

The Ukraine had shocked Serbia with an 82-75 win over their higher-rated rivals on Friday and they were not about to let Lithuania coast into the quarter-finals either.  This was a 2-point game at the half, a 2-point game after three-quarters and a 1-point game with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter.  Then Linas Kleiza hit his second three-point shot of the contest to put Lithuania up by 4 points and all of the remaining scoring in the game came at the free throw line.

Kleiza led Lithuania in scoring with 15 points on 4-15 shooting from the field.  The Rockets Donatas Motiejunas was second in scoring with 10 points and the Raptors Jonas Valanciunas had 2 points and 2 rebounds in 13 minutes of action.

Sergii Gladyr led the Ukraine in scoring with 18 points.  The Phoenix Suns Viacheslav Kravtsov is Ukraine’s only active NBA player and he had a team high 9 rebounds.

Lithuania will play the third place team in Group F on Thursday September 19.  They will not know who their opponent is until Monday, however, there is a good chance it will be the winner of Spain vs Italy.

Lithuania vs Ukraine boxscore

Valanciunas Taken to Hospital After Double-Double

Jonas Valanciunas by Robertas Dačkus with permission (3)Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas collected his third double-double at the 2013 Eurobasket in Slovenia on Friday and he did in just 12.5 minutes of action after receiving a minor cut to the head.

Valanciunas entered the game late in the first quarter against Belgium with Lithuania clinging to an 11-10 lead and immediately grabbed his first rebound. A minute later Valanciunas was attempting a layup at the other end. He missed that shot but collected his own rebound and was put on the free throw line for his first two points of the game. Lithuania was up 18-12 after one quarter.

This game got quickly out of control as Lithuania built a double-digit lead that expanded to over 20 at the half and 34 in the third quarter. Valanciunas scored 10 second quarter points in 5.5 minutes to lead the rout and returned to close out the last 4:20 of the third quarter with 4 defensive rebounds to record a 12 point 10 rebound double-double.

Rockets forward Donatas Motiejunas also feasted on the overmatched Belgium team, scoring a team high 13 points. 23-year-old forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas, who has been unexpectedly putting on a show for Lithuania at Eurobasket, had 12 points and 8 rebounds in another effective outing.

Lithuania won this game 86-67, but the score doesn’t reflect how bad this beat down was. At the end of the third quarter, Lithuania led 69-35 and they literally coasted home.

Jonathan Tabu-Eboma led Belgium with 15 points.

This is the third time Lithuania has defeated Belgium this summer. In two friendly games in August, Lithuania won 86-61 and 66-53. Except for the last 5 minutes, Head Coach Jonas Kazlauskas was happy with his team’s offense and defense, but there really isn’t anything Lithuania can take away from this game besides the victory.

Valanciunas was cut on a foul to the back of the head in the first quarter, however, he made his free throws after the foul before being subbed out and played limited minutes in the second quarter and in the second half. Local TV is reporting Valanciunas was taken to hospital after the game to stitch up his injury. He is expected to practice with his team on Saturday.

Lithuania plays the Ukraine on Sunday.

Lithuania vs Belgium boxscore

Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report. You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors

Lithuania Upsets France 76-62

It was a different team from Lithuania that played on Wednesday in their first game of the second round and they upset a high scoring team from France 76-62.  The effort was better defensively from the Lithuanians, however, France did help out their opponent’s cause by shooting themselves out of this game instead of taking advantage of their athleticism.

Head Coach Jonas Kazlauskas got the faster pace game that he likes to play, but fortunately, Lithuania went inside on drives and passes more often and more effectively than France.  The end result was Lithuania won this contest from the free throw line as they sunk 19 of 23 attempts compared to 5 of 9 for France.  Both teams shot poorly from outside, even though it didn’t appear to dissuade either of them from continuing to jack up unnecessary three-balls, Lithuania hit on 5-19 and France was 5-21 from long range.

Martin Pupininkas Basketnews.lt reported on Kazlauskas comments after the game.

“I am very pleased to have won a game at the European Championship against one of the strongest teams,” Kazlauskas said. But we know that it has just begun.  We have to forget this victory and think about our other opponents.

“We knew that the French have averaged 80 points during the tournament and this time we allowed them just 62 points. Today we are really satisfied that we have followed the game plan, satisfied that we did it from the beginning to the end.”

Linas Kleiza led Lithuania in minutes with 36 and plus/minus at 20 on 2-9 shooting for 11 points to go with 7 rebounds and 3 assists.  Kleiza sunk 2 of Lithuania’s 5 three-pointers.

Jonas Valanciunas scored 13 points on 6-6 from the field in 16 minutes together with 6 rebounds, a block and a steal and the game turned late in the first quarter after Valanciunas was subbed in with the score 10-9.  He came out 3 minutes into the second quarter with his team up 22-12.  Valanciunas provided Lithuania a presence in the paint that France simply couldn’t handle.

Renaldas Seibutis led Lithuania in scoring with 15 points.  The 23-year-old forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas provided some excitement with his runs to the rim as he scored 10 points.

France literally shot themselves out of this ball game as they only hit on 40 percent of their field goal attempts.  Nando De Colo led France with 12 points, Tony Parker had 11 points, Alexis Ajinca 10 points and Nicolas Batum 8 points.

Lithuania should be happy with the win and Kazlauskas can be happy with the executed game plan, but this team can’t afford to be hoisting close to 20 three-pointers a game and expect the same result every time.  They just do not shoot the ball from range well enough and before this tournament is over, they will play teams that hit their shots from distance.  Lithuania got lucky France’s shooters were cold or today’s game could have turned out very differently.

Lithuania road to the next round gets a little easier temporarily.  They crushed Belgium twice in friendlies at the beginning of August and will play them again on Friday.  On Sunday, Lithuania plays the Ukraine who just lost by 34 points to Latvia.

Lithuania vs France boxscore

Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre.  A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.  You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors

Team Canada standing pregame by MoVernie

Every Team Canada Game From Toronto To Caracas

The Canadian Senior Men’s National basketball Team had a busy summer starting with a pair of exhibition games in Toronto against Jamaica followed by a four game warm-up tournament in Puerto Rico and ending at the FIBA Americas in Caracas, Venezuela.

Despite fielding a very young roster, Canada had a chance to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Spain and they almost pulled it off.  This is a quick rundown of every game Canada played with links to the full story.

Jack Donohue International Classic in Toronto

Poster for Canada v Jamaica by MoVernieCanada Defeats Jamaica In Basketball Classic

After numerous days of practice at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, the Canadian Senior Men’s National basketball Team finally got into game action against Team Jamaica on Thursday. Canada won a tight, exciting, physical contest by a score of 81-72.

After the game, Head Coach Jay Triano was happy with the victory, but he knows there is still plenty of work to be done, especially for the NBA players such as Tristan Thompson, Andrew Nicolson and Cory Joseph who need to make the adjustment to International Rules.

“You can see Tristan was a bit frustrated out there,” Triano said. “(He is) still trying to learn the International rules, but he will figure things out, veterans guys who have lots of international experience will help our young groups of guys.”

Canada vs Jamaica Thrill in Basketball Classic

Jamaica controlled both the pace of the game and the scoreboard at Ryerson University’s Mattamy Athletic Centre and it wasn’t until the final moments that Canada was able to thrill the big crowd and pull out the come from behind 77-72 victory.

“Andy (Rautins) is a scorer and we needed points,” Head Coach Jay Triano said. “We had planned on before this game to not play him in the first half of the game and he and Brady (Heslip) knew that. We needed to take a look at other guys and in the second half, if they stayed zone, we knew that those two guys would get a chance to play.

“I don’t mind (playing Rautins and Heslip together). I think it really spreads the floor and if teams play zone, it is really going to open things up inside for Tristan to rebound and flash and Andrew to do things and if they don’t, those two guys (Rautins and Heslip) are very capable of scoring from the perimeter.”

Playing these zone-busting guards also opened the floor for center Joel Anthony who had 6 points and 4 rebounds in the 4th quarter.

Tutu Marchand Continental Cup in Puerto Rico

warming-up Tristan Thompson by MoVerniePuerto Rico Defeats Canada In Warm-Up

Timberwolves J.J. Barea had 23 points and 8 assists to lead host country Puerto Rico to a 78-71 victory over Canada at the Tutu Marchand Continental Cup.

Andrew Nicholson led Canada with 21 points on 9-15 shooting and Tristan Thompson had a double-double 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Scola Schools Canada In Puerto Rico

It was too much Luis Scola for Team Canada as the veteran Argentine power forward scored 25 points in his team’s 83-74 victory.

Canada was led by Nicholson who had 17 points going 3-3 from deep and Tristan Thompson who just missed another double-double finishing with 16 points and 9 rebounds, but Canada lost this game in the paint where they were outscored 20-12 and from the three-point line.

Thompson 21 and 11, Canada Still Lost

Tristan Thompson played 32 minutes and recorded 21 points and 11 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough and Canada lost to the Dominican Republic 74-68.

Brady Heslip and Andy Rautins each finished with 11 points, shooting 4-12 and 4-10 respectively.  The Spurs Cory Joseph and the HEAT’s Joel Anthony didn’t play for Canada in tonight’s game.

Cory Joseph Scores 20 In Loss To Brazil

San Antonio Spurs backup point guard Cory Joseph scored 20 points for Canada in Monday night’s loss to Brazil 77-70 at the Tutu Marchand Continental Cup.  Canada finished the warm-up tournament for FIBA Americas with a 0-4 record after losing to Puerto Rico, Argentina and the Dominican Republic earlier.

Nicholson scored 17 points on 6-12 shooting and Brady Heslip had 14 points on 5-10 shooting.

FIBA Americas in Caracas, Venezuela

Cory Joesph by MoVernieCanada Wins On Big Game From Cory Joseph

Canada defeated Jamaica 85-64 in their first game at the FIBA Americas tournament in Caracas, Venezuela on Friday behind big efforts from Cory Joseph, Brady Heslip, Levon Kendall and Tristan Thompson.

Joseph nearly recorded a triple-double with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists.  Heslip ended up tied with Joseph for the team lead in scoring with 17 points.  Levon Kendall was effective off the bench for Canada with 13 points on 6-7 shooting to go with 8 rebounds.  Tristan Thompson finished with an 11 point 12 rebound double-double.

Canada Collapses in Fourth, Puerto Rico wins

Canada had fought their way back from a first half deficit to an early third quarter lead and trailed by one heading into the fourth quarter, but it all went wrong from there. Puerto Rico won this game going away 83-67 in a fourth quarter blow out.

Nicholson led Canada with 21 points, scoring 10 in the second half. His team looked lost offensively without him on the floor.  Tristan Thompson had 20 points and 9 boards in a losing effort, but aside from Nicholson and Thompson, the rest of Team Canada was flat and shot a collective 11-42.

Cory Joseph Leads Canada Past Brazil

Cory Joseph had a monster game as he led Canada past Brazil in a blow out that started late in the second quarter and ended in a 91-62 laugher.

Joseph had scored 20 points in a loss to Brazil last week in Puerto Rico and he proved the Brazilian guards still couldn’t cover him when it counted, finishing with 28 points on 10-15 shooting.  He just missed the double-double by grabbing a game-high 9 rebounds.  Veteran FIBA guard Jermaine Anderson also had a big day with 14 points on 6-9 shooting.  Big men Tristan Thompson and Andrew Nicholson who led Canada yesterday against Puerto Rico were much quieter today finishing with 7 points and 13 points respectively.

Canada Crushes Uruguay 93-67

In a game that was never in doubt, Canada crushed Uruguay 93-67 after having wait over 8 hours to play because of a blackout earlier in the day. Canada grabbed the lead early and worked their way up to a double-digit advantage just over 4 minutes into this contest.

Cory Joseph was still hot after his big game against Brazil and finished with an impressive 17 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals. Tristan Thompson had 14 points and 7 rebounds, showing off a couple of massive open court dunks. Levon Kendall came through off the bench to help maintain Canada’s huge lead in the second half, scoring 13 points to go with 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocked shots.

Cory Joseph Leads Canada Past Mexico

Cory Joseph led Canada past Mexico 89-67, the young guard finishing with 17 points on 6-12 shooting, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. The FIBA Americas tournament has been quite the coming out party for the Spurs backup point guard.

This game was a remarkable display of long range shooting as Canada went 16-28 from deep led by Heslip (5), Rautins (4) and Joseph (3).  Rautins (19 points) and Heslip (21 points) put on a show from long range in the second half.

Canada Wastes 20 Rebounds From Tristan Thompson

Canada had their chances, but they wasted a 12 point 20 rebound performance from Tristan Thompson and lost 64-59 to host country Venezuela at the FIBA Americas.

Canada dominated the glass in this game 40-24 behind Thompson’s big game and while neither team shot the ball well, Canada was absolutely brutal from beyond the arc, hitting on just 4-25 three-point attempts.

Cory Joseph scored 14 points for Canada.

Andrew Nicholson Magic Not Enough For Canada

Magic forward Andrew Nicholson came out on fire for Canada in Saturday’s game against the Dominican Republic, but even his 29 point performance wasn’t enough as Canada went cold down the stretch for the second game in a row to fall 81-74.

Tristan Thompson had another solid game with 14 points on 5-7 shooting, 6 rebounds, a block and a steal.   Cory Joseph had 13 points on 50 percent shooting Brady Heslip had the long range bomb falling today, hitting on 4-5 attempts from deep and scoring 12 of Canada’s 14 bench points.

Luis Scola Eliminates Canada At FIBA Americas

Canada wanted this game badly and they played like it, but they had no answer for the three-time FIBA Americas MVP Luis Scola as the 33-year old FIBA and NBA veteran poured in 28 points to eliminate Canada from the medal rounds at the FIBA Americas in Caracas, Venezuela on Sunday.

Nicholson scored 17 points on 8-20 shooting.  Thompson had a good game for Canada with 8 points, 10 rebounds, a block and a steal. Cory Joseph played with a lot of intensity and led Canada with 19 points on 7-16 shooting.

It wasn’t for a lack of effort, but Canada lost 73-67 and only scored 11 fourth quarter points. Canada lost their last 3 games in a row to be eliminated from the medal rounds at FIBA Americas. With the win, Argentina moves on and automatically qualifies for the 2014 World Cup in Spain.

Mirza Teletovic scored 31 For Bosnia and Herzegovina

Brooklyn Nets power forward Mirza Teletovic scored 31 points against Lithuania in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 78-72 win on Monday, but it wasn’t enough as they needed to win by 10 points to advance to the second round.

Teletovic shot 10-20 overall and 6-15 from the three-point line to stretch the Lithuanian defense and Bosnia and Herzegovina kept the game at a frenetic pace to keep away from Lithuania’s strength inside. Lithuania’s Head Coach Jonas Kazlauskas response was to play small ball in an attempt to match up with his opponent and Linas Kleiza stepped up with 20 points and 10 rebounds. However, fast paced small ball has been the Achilles Heel of Lithuania this summer and in both the friendly games and the tournament, teams that gotten Lithuania out of their half court sets in into the open court have enjoyed success.

“[Our big men] are our strength, and we have to use it,” Jonas Maciulis said after the victory over Macedonia. “In the last game versus Serbia, we were shooting three-point shots, we didn’t play through our big guys. We have to do what we were doing all the time in the friendly games before the tournament.”

Lithuania doesn’t have the outside shooting and athletic guards and wings to take on some of the better shooting and quicker teams and that was apparent again in Monday’s loss.

The Lithuanian big men that have been key to the team’s victories this summer were nailed to the bench against Bosnia and Herzegovina. Jonas Valanciunas only played 7 first half minutes. Ksistof Lavrinovic and Darjus Lavrinovic played 5 minutes and 12 minutes respectively and Donatas Motiejunas played just 8 minutes. Robertas Javtokas played 16 minutes, but the respected veteran center hasn’t shown any semblance of an offensive game this summer and has limited ability to defend the three-point line.

In Lithuania’s two losses in the preliminary round, it seemed like Kazlauskas had been out game-planned by the opposing coach and couldn’t find a way to get back to his team’s strength. His team’s second round opponents are sure to have the scouting report about what has been successful against Lithuania and Kazlauskas will need to find an answer to this problem soon.

Teletovic enjoyed a strong tournament for Bosnia and Herzegovina and averaged 21 points and 7.6 rebounds over 5 games. He made 34.9 percent of his 43 three-point attempts during the tournament.

Small forward Nihad Djedovic scored 20 points on 7-12 shooting to go with 4 rebounds and 4 assists against Lithuania. The 23-year-old averaged 17.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists for Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Eurobasket and is someone to watch this season.

Lithuania advanced to the second round with a 3-2 record and plays France on Wednesday. France is lead by three members of the 2013 NBA Finalist San Antonio Spurs with Tony Parker, Nando De Colo and Boris Diaw as well as the Portland Trail Blazers Nicolas Batum.

Lithuania vs Bosnia and Herzegovina boxscore

Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.

You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors

Jonas Valanciunas by Robertas Dačkus with permission (3)

Lavrinovic, Valanciunas Lead Lithuania To Win

Lithuania defeated Montenegro 77-70 in an overtime thriller on Sunday. Seldom used veteran forward Ksistof Lavrinovic scored 24 points on 9-11 shooting and it was Lithuania’s young star Jonas Valanciunas that looked like the forgotten man in Head Coach Jonas Kazlauskas’ rotation initially.

The 33-year-old twins Darijus and Ksistof Lavrinovic got the unexpected start. Neither player had seen more than 20 minutes of action in a game. Ksistof had only played a total of 13 minutes and was 0-7 for the tournament. However, Kazlauskas must have suspected something about the matchups as the brothers led Lithuania to a quick 10-3 lead and scored their team’s first 12 points. Kazlauskas explained why Lavrinovic started today in the FIBA game report.

“Our best player, [Linas] Kleiza, is a little too small. We saw how Montenegro attacked [Mirza] Teletovic from this position. We were trying to save Kleiza from this and that’s why we started Lavrinovic,” said Kazlauskas.

“[Ksistof Lavrinovic] was incredible today. He didn’t play a lot in the last games, but he led us today,” point guard Mantas Kalnietis said.

The pace was fast, but as quickly as the Lavrinovics scored, they were giving up points at the other end just as easily and the first quarter ended in a 19-19 tie. Ksistof continued scoring in the second quarter, but Valanciunas only had 1 shot in the first half and rarely saw the ball. This hasn’t been the formula for Lithuania’s success at the Eurobasket and the team found themselves down 34-32 to Montenegro at the half.

The second half started out the way Lithuania usually enjoys success. Three trips through the paint for Valanciunas resulting in 2 free throws and 2 dunks. Add in an open Linas Kleiza jump shot and Lithuania had taken the lead.

A re-energized Valanciunas also provided some badly needed rim protection, adding a pair of blocked shots to go with his 8 third quarter points. By the time this game was over, Valanciunas had his second consecutive double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

However, Montenegro refused to go quietly in this game and the newly signed Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Tyrese Rice hit a game-tying three-pointer to force overtime. In overtime it was Darijus Lavrinovic who it the three-pointer to put Lithuania up by 5 points and Valanciunas sunk a pair of free throws to take the game out of reach at the end.

Rice scored 19 points on 7-15 shooting for Montenegro and Magic center Nikola Vucevic scored 8 points and collected 5 rebounds in 13.5 minutes of work. It wasn’t clear why Vucevic was nailed to the bench at the end of this game.

Lithuania plays Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday.

Lithuania vs Montenegro boxscore

Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.

You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors

Team Canada standing pregame by MoVernie

Luis Scola Eliminates Canada At FIBA Americas

Canada wanted this game badly and they played like it, but they had no answer for the three-time FIBA Americas MVP Luis Scola as the 33-year old FIBA and NBA veteran poured in 28 points to eliminate Canada from the medal rounds at the FIBA Americas in Caracas, Venezuela on Sunday.

Scola has some of the best footwork of any big man playing below the rim in any professional league and it was on full display against the young Canadian front court of Tristan Thompson and Andrew Nicholson. While Canada’s young big men held their own for most of this game, in the third quarter with Canada up 45-39, Scola scored his team’s next 16 points to keep Argentina in this game and close the gap to within 1. Then Argentina scored the next 6 points to close out the quarter up 61-56 and they never let Canada take the lead back.

Argentina used their scouting report on Magic forward Nicholson and double-teamed him on the first possession of the game. The Argentine forwards played Nicholson very physically to keep him out of the paint and it took a while for the young forward to adjust, however, by the end, Nicholson scored 17 points on 8-20 shooting. Not nearly as efficient as he had been throughout most of the tournament, but he worked hard for his points in this game.

Thompson had a good game for Canada with 8 points, 10 rebounds, a block and a steal. Unfortunately, he just doesn’t have the experience yet to deal with a crafty veteran like Scola. Cory Joseph played with a lot of intensity and other than a few wild shots thrown up with more wishful thinking than realism, his efforts were almost enough to help Canada pull this one out. Joseph led Canada with 19 points on 7-16 shooting, but he only had 2 assists to offset his 2 turnovers and his three-point shot deserted him again as he shot 0-4 from deep.

It wasn’t for a lack of effort, but Canada lost 73-67 and only scored 11 fourth quarter points. Canada lost their last 3 games in a row to be eliminated from the medal rounds at FIBA Americas. With the win, Argentina moves on and automatically qualifies for the 2014 World Cup in Spain.

Canada vs Argentina boxscore

Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.

You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors

Basketball Canada logo

Andrew Nicholson Magic Not Enough For Canada

Magic forward Andrew Nicholson came out on fire for Canada in Saturday’s game against the Dominican Republic, but even his 29 point performance wasn’t enough as Canada went cold down the stretch for the second game in a row to fall 81-74.

Canada went to Nicholson three consecutive trips to start the game and the 23-year-old laid in the ball each time on some pretty moves in the paint. Nicholson had it going all afternoon, 3-7 from the three-point line and 9-12 around the basket. The only thing stopping Nicholson was his own inexperience and today that just slightly slowed him down. After getting embarrassed early by Nicholson’s moves in the paint, the Dominican Republic started to double team the young forward and forced him into 6 turnovers on the day including three walks in the first half. While he managed to stay on the court in this game, Nicholson picked up 4 personal fouls and looked obviously frustrated by the calls. This kid could become a scary good scoring forward as he matures and gets a grip on his emotions.

Despite going cold over the final four minutes in a one-point game to get outscored when it counted 12-6, offense was not Canada’s biggest problem. This game saw limited defensive effort from either team. The Dominican Republic shot 57 percent from the field and Canada shot 50 percent as the three-point line seemed to be unguarded and too many drives through the lane went uncontested.

Canada went on a 10-0 run to take a 10 point lead at the end of the first quarter, but they gave it all back with a Dominican Republic 10-0 run to start the second quarter. The first half ended in a 1 point game. In the second half, neither team had more than a four point lead until there was less than two minutes to go. Canada didn’t go as ice-cold as they did against Venezuela the day before, but with the Dominican Republic’s hot shooting, even missing a couple of shots at the end of this game was fatal.

Tristan Thompson had another solid game with 14 points on 5-7 shooting, 6 rebounds, a block and a steal. Thompson had one of the rare noticeable defensive plays during the game. Cory Joseph had 13 points on 50 percent shooting, but he missed all 3 of his three-point attempts and had more turnovers (6) than assists (4). Brady Heslip had the long range bomb falling today in this offensive-minded contest, hitting on 4-5 attempts from deep and scoring 12 of Canada’s 14 bench points.

Canada has been susceptible to veteran play and the Houston Rockets 32-year-old veteran Francisco Garcia had a big game for the Dominican Republic with 17 points and 9 of those points came over the final 4.5 minutes with the game on the line.

The loss moves Canada into a three-way tie for fourth place and reliant on help and tie-breakers to make the medal round and qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Spain.

Canada (3-3) plays Argentina (3-3) on Sunday at 2pm in their final game of the second round.

Canada vs Dominican Republic boxscore

Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.

You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors

warming-up Tristan Thompson by MoVernie

Canada Wastes 20 Rebounds From Tristan Thompson

Canada had their chances, but they wasted a 12 point 20 rebound performance from Tristan Thompson and lost 64-59 to host country Venezuela at the FIBA Americas.

Canada dominated the glass in this game 40-24 behind Thompson’s big game and while neither team shot the ball well, Canada was absolutely brutal from beyond the arc, hitting on just 4-25 three-point attempts. Prior to today Canada had been effective from the outside, however, they quite literally shot themselves out of this game.

Due to the poor shooting, point guard Cory Joseph found himself with 0 assists and while he was an effective 6-11 from two-point range for 14 points and did a nice job of driving the lane, he was 0-5 from deep and his team needed those points today.

There have been comments made that three-point specialist Andy Rautins needed to be taking more shots as he has been effective from the outside in this tournament. Unfortunately, he fared no better than his teammates and shot 2-9 from deep. Aaron Doornekamp had an unexpectedly strong game at forward collecting 10 rebounds, but he was left open a lot and only hit on 2-9 from the field and 1-4 on three-point attempts.

The Venezuelan players and their loud and boisterous fans seemed to rattle Canada and no one was more rattled than Andrew Nicholson. Nicholson hasn’t been able to adjust to FIBA rules and has often been in foul trouble, but in this game he fouled out in less than 10 really well spaced out minutes and looked exceptionally frustrated. Nicholson has been an efficient point producer for Canada and with points so hard to come by, they couldn’t afford Nicholson going 1-3 for 5 points and 5 turnovers. The young forward never got his head in this game.

Venezuela inched their way up to a 9 point lead in the second quarter that they managed to hold onto through the third quarter even though both teams’ poor shooting didn’t make the lead feel very secure. Then with 6:40 left in the fourth quarter the lead crept up to 14 points on free throws as Nicholson fouled out of the game. It looked to be over, but Venezuela was about to go into a 5 minute scoring drought that gave Canada their chance to get back into it.

Canada went on a 13-0 run over the next 3.7 minutes to close the gap to 60-59 behind 4 points and 4 rebounds from Thompson, but with the game waiting for someone to take it, Canada went ice-cold and couldn’t score over the final 2 minutes of the game. Doornekamp was blocked at the rim and missed an open three-pointer. Then Rautins, Joseph and Heslip missed on consecutive three-point attempts and with the clock running down, Heslip missed a desperation runner in the lane.

With the loss, Canada falls into a three-way tie for second place in the tournament. Canada, Mexico and Venezuela all have 3-2 records. If the Dominican Republic can defeat Puerto Rico that would make it a four-way tie for second and further cloud the Canada’s chances of making it to the medal round.

Canada plays the Dominican Republic on Saturday at 5:30pm in a must win game. Then they play Argentina on Sunday in their last game of the second round. Canada is still in a position to determine their own fate in this tournament.

Canada vs Venezuela boxscore

Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.

You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors

Lithuania Wins on Valanciunas Double-Double

Lithuania defeated Latvia 67-59 on Friday on the back of a Jonas Valanciunas 11 point 10 rebound double-double and some stingy defense in the painted area. Head Coach Jonas Kazlauskas started his young star center for the first time at the 2013 Eurobasket and Valanciunas got Latvia in foul trouble early and often in the first half.

Latvia did an admirable job for most of this game denying passes into the interior, but when Lithuania was successful, there was little Latvia could do to stop them in the paint. In the first quarter alone Valanciunas drew 3 personal fouls as he led Lithuania to an early 22-17 advantage with 8 points, going 4-4 from the line and finishing a driving layup and an ally-oop dunk.

Valanciunas’ success inside only encouraged Latvia to tighten their interior defense by fronting, backing and even bringing help on the catch, Latvia decided they were not going to be beaten by the Raptors center. Latvia did an increasingly good job of denying the pass and creating turnovers that stopped Lithuania from running away with this game. However, with Valanciunas playing all but 5 minutes of the first half, there was nothing Latvia could do to stop their opponents from building a 39-31 half-time lead.

Valanciunas led all players with 9 points, 8 trips to the free throw line, 6 rebounds and 6 personal fouls drawn at the break.

With Lithuania setting the tone of this game and controlling the boards, Latvia had to hit shots from the outside to stay close and while the contest never became a blow out, Latvia’s poor overall shooting ensured a comeback wasn’t in the cards. Lithuania out rebounded Latvia 48 to 26 and they held Latvia to just 32.8 percent from the field. Over half of Latvia’s shots came from beyond the three-point line and they weren’t falling either.

At the other end, the collapsed Latvian defense left the three-point line virtually undefended and single coverage on Lithuania’s guards and wings on drives to the hoop. No one was leaving Valanciunas to challenge his teammates on shots, layups or rebounds. If Lithuania hadn’t turned the ball over 18 times, often on some very poor passing, this game would have been over before the half.

Valanciunas led Lithuania with 11 points as Kazlauskas spread the minutes out fairly evenly between 10 players. Donatas Motiejunas played a strong game again today, finishing with 9 points and 6 boards and Darjus Lavrinovic was very efficient with 9 points in short minutes.

Rihards Kuksiks led Latvia with 13 points.

Lithuania laid off the three-point shot for the second game in a row, but they did hit on 5-12 long range attempts as Latvia seemed happy to let them have this shot. Jonas Maciulis was 3-3 from deep for 9 points on his only shots of the game.

Even though Lithuania never trailed after Valanciunas returned to close out the first quarter, Latvia’s energy and effort confirmed that there are no opponents in this tournament a team can take lightly as reported by Basketnews.lt.

“It is great that we won. A victory is a victory as the European Championship has no weak opponents,” Lavrinovic said.

Lithuania is now in a 3-way tie for first place in their pool with a 2-1 record. They play Montenegro next on Sunday.

Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.

You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors

Lithuania Goes Back To Valanciunas To Win

After Wednesday’s embarrassing loss to Serbia, Lithuania went back to Jonas Valanciunas and their big men to pull out the 72-67 win over Macedonia on Thursday. However, Head Coach Jonas Kazlauskas still started veteran center Robertas Javtokas instead of Valanciunas despite what had happened the day before.

Kazlauskas didn’t run with Javtokas for as long as he did against Serbia as Javtokas missed two early layup attempts and the only points Lithuania was able to score were a pair of free throws until he came out of the game. However, at least Lithuania was going inside instead of jacking up low percentage shots like they had against Serbia and Jonas Maciulis confirmed the change in style of play in the FIBA post-game report.

“[Our big men] are our strength, and we have to use it,” Maciulis said. “In the last game versus Serbia, we were shooting three-point shots, we didn’t play through our big guys. We have to do what we were doing all the time in the friendly games before the tournament.”

The game changed dramatically once Valanciunas stepped on the court. Driving lanes opened up as the defense had to stay attached to Valanciunas. In the opening quarter, Valanciunas blocked a shot, collected 2 boards, scored 6 points, drew 2 fouls, got to the free throw line 4 times, had a layup and a dunk. Lithuania went on an 18-10 run after he entered the contest and the quarter ended 20-15 Lithuania.

Valanciunas opened the second quarter with a layup and was subbed out after 2.5 minutes with Lithuania up by 9 points. Kazlauskas re-inserted Valanciunas back into the game 2.5 minutes later after Macedonia had closed to within 6 points. The game turned around immediately, but an 11 point lead evaporated on a Maciulis personal foul followed by a bench technical that lead to 3 made free throws and the ball which Macedonia turned into a quarter ending layup. The half ended with Lithuania clinging to a 39-33 lead.

Valanciunas had 9 points to lead his team in scoring at the half.

Valanciunas started the second half and Lithuania continued to go inside resulting in numerous trips to the free throw line. Macedonia was putting as many as three defenders on Valanciunas in the paint to take him out of the game opening up opportunities for the rest of his teammates. The lead was back to 11 points when Kazlauskas subbed Valanciunas out with 4 minutes to go in the third quarter. Macedonia closed the gap to 57-50 on a steal and a layup with less than 7 seconds left in the quarter.

In the fourth quarter Lithuania built up a 13 point lead, but as Macedonia made a push to bring the game to 65-58 with 3.5 minutes left, Kazlauskas subbed Valanciunas out for Darjus Lavrinovic in an attempt to find more offense. Macedonia had effectively taken Valanciunas out of the game offensively and his teammates had only scored 2 points in the past 3.5 minutes. Macedonia closed the gap to 65-62 before Lavrinovic made a layup to push the lead back to 5 points and Kazlauskas brought Valanciunas back in for defensive purposes to close out the game.

Valanciunas finished the game with just 11 points, but he led Lithuania with 7 rebounds and 2 blocks in 26 minutes and Lithuania was plus 23 points while he was on the court. Normally the plus/minus statistic is frowned upon as somewhat misleading, but in today’s game, the incredible difference in Lithuania’s play with Valanciunas on the court is accurately reflected by that statistic.

Mantas Kalnietis led Lithuania with 17 points and Maciulis finished with 14. Donatas Motiejunas played a strong game scoring 11 points on 4-5 shooting and had the team’s second best plus/minus at 14. Lithuania only took 8 three-point attempts and Motiejunas made both of his team’s three-balls on just three attempts.

33-year-old guard Vlado Ilievski led Macedonia with 13 points, but he was 1-8 from three-point range and Macedonia shot 6-28 from deep in this game.

Lithuania plays Latvia on Friday.

Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.

You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors

Cory Joseph Leads Canada Past Mexico

In the end, it was Cory Joseph leading Canada past Mexico 89-67, but the game didn’t start out that way and the result was in doubt well into the fourth quarter.

Canada came out like they had never played this game before as bad turnovers by Tristan Thompson, Andrew Nicholson and Andy Rautins staked Mexico to an early 7-2 lead. Only the aggressiveness of Joseph driving to the rim provided any indication that this was the same team that had demolished Uruguay less than two days ago. Once Canada found their bearings, however, the game started to turn and their own 8-2 run put Canada back on top. Andrew Nicholson couldn’t miss in the first quarter and went 3-3 for 8 points. Thompson didn’t have much impact offensively today, but he shut down Mexico’s leading scorer Gustavo Ayon in the opening quarter.

Canada started the second quarter with a 21-18 lead, but missed their first six shots before Joseph put them ahead to stay with back-to-back three-pointers for a 27-20 lead. Fortunately, Mexico wasn’t fairing any better offensively. Joseph led Canada at the half in scoring with 12 points followed by Nicholson with 11 points on 4-4 shooting. The only player stopping Nicholson in the first half was himself as he kept picking up silly fouls. The quarter ended with Canada up 40-31 on a Jermaine Anderson long range bomb that refused to fall out.

Mexico opened the second half with 8 unanswered points as Ayon scored 6 points and Canada only managed a turnover, 2 personal fouls and 2 missed shots to start. Rautins broke Mexico’s run with a long range three-pointer that re-established a 4 point lead for Canada and then 3 three-pointers by Brady Heslip put Canada back up by 9. Mexico refused to go away in the third quarter, however, and this game was 60-58 at the start of the final frame.

The fourth quarter started slow and sloppy, but once Canada got up by 10 on a pair of three-pointers from Rautins, the rout was on. Canada outscored Mexico 29-9 in the fourth quarter to win this game going away by 22 points. This game was a remarkable display of long range shooting as Canada went 16-28 from deep led by Heslip (5), Rautins (4) and Joseph (3).

It might have been easy to overlook Joseph’s contributions on this afternoon with Rautins (19) and Heslip (21) putting on a show from long range in the second half, but Canada stayed in this contest because of Joseph’s aggressive play and the young guard finished with 17 points on 6-12 shooting, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. The FIBA Americas tournament has been quite the coming out party for the Spurs backup point guard.

The Hawks recently acquired free agent big man Ayon continues to impress at this tournament beyond all reasonable expectations. He may have started slow today, but he finished strong and was almost able to keep Mexico in this game. Ayon had 19 points on 7-12 shooting to go with 11 rebounds, 2 steals and a block. Thompson, who kept Ayon in check for one quarter, ended up with 7 points on 3-12 shooting, but he did pull in a game high 12 boards.

Canada now sits atop of the second round standings with 3 wins and a loss ( 2 wins and a loss were carried forward from the preliminary round) pending the results of the two later games on Thursday. Their points-differential of +53 puts them well ahead of the other 7 teams in case of tie-breakers.

Canada faces Venezuela on Friday at 5:30pm ET, the Dominican Republic on Saturday and on Sunday Argentina.

Canada vs Mexico boxscore

Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.

You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors

Serbia Shocks Lithuania 63-56

Serbia shocked Lithuania 63-56 in the two teams’ opening game at the 2013 Eurobasket tournament in Slovenia on Wednesday. Serbia had a game plan that they ran to perfection against the heavily favored Lithuanians and Lithuania’s Head Coach Jonas Kazlauskas couldn’t find an adjustment to get his side back on top.

Kazlauskas started the veteran Robertas Javtokas instead of his young star center Jonas Valanciunas and Serbia fed the ball to center Nenad Krstic on their very first offensive possession. Krstic missed his first shot, but he went on to dominate Javtokas from then on. After a made three-pointer, Serbia feed the ball into Krstic for their next three scores as Krstic took the overmatched Javtokas into the post and finished over the top with short hook shots. On his only miss, Krstic controlled the glass and put back his own shot as Javtokas watched helplessly while the Serbs went up 9-5.

Kazlauskas only pulled Javtokas out of the game after he picked up his second personal foul with 4:39 left in the quarter. Valanciunas entered the game and Serbia followed the same plan against the younger player. Krstic wasn’t able to push Valanciunas under the basket for the easy shot on the next possession, but the now very hot Serbian center was able to hit the step back jumper for his eighth point of the quarter. Valanciunas was finally able to get Krstic to miss a shot on his next attempt and Serbia’s center was subbed out for a rest with his team up 13-5.

The first quarter ended with Lithuania down 20-10 with both Valanciunas and Javtokas having picked up two early personal fouls. Kazlauskas subbed out Valanciunas a minute and a half into the second quarter and the game became fast and sloppy very quickly. There was even a series of failed back-to-back-to back fast break attempts that resembled a scene from the Keystone Cops where everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The pace of the game helped Lithuania close to within 6 points by the end of the quarter, but no one was controlling this game during the style of play that seemed to be exactly what Serbia was trying to create. At the half, the score was 33-27 in Serbia’s favor.

Valanciunas started the second half and Lithuania tied the game at 33 on two quick three-point baskets. Serbia immediately went back to isolation plays with Krstic on Valanciunas. Valanciunas effectively defended Krstic on his first attempt in the post, but Serbia went back to Krstic again and the veteran spun around Valanciunas in the post for the score. At the other end, Krstic was able to draw a charge on Valanciunas and Kazlauskas made the mistake of subbing out his big man and hoping his team could recreate their second quarter scoring. Serbia stopped using isolation plays with Krstic with neither Valanciunas nor Javtokas in the game and while the play resembled that of earlier in the game, the Serbs outscored Lithuania 16-8 over the rest of the quarter for a 51-41 lead heading into the final frame.

Valanciunas started the fourth quarter and played Krstic effectively, but Lithuania had gone ice-cold offensively by this time and couldn’t find their big man inside to get any easy points. On the only play in the fourth quarter where Valanciunas received the ball near the post, he made a pretty pass to a cutting Renaldas Seibutis, but Seibutis missed the uncontested layup. That play kind of summed up the evening for Lithuania.

After 3 minutes, Valanciunas picked up his fourth personal foul and was subbed out for the balance of the game. Both teams had looked ugly at the offensive end of the floor for most of this game and Lithuania didn’t have the offensive wherewithal to make a comeback. The game ended 63-56 for Serbia with both teams missing shot after shot down the stretch.

Mantas Kalnietis lead Lithuania with 17 points on 8-11 shooting and Darjusas Lavrinovicius scored 12 points on 5-8 shooting. Jonas Valanciunas finished with just 2 points on 1-1 shooting, 2 rebounds and 4 personal fouls in 11 minutes. Krstic led Serbia with 20 points and 9 rebounds.

Lithuania plays Macedonia on Thursday.

Lithuania vs Serbia boxscore

Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.

You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors

Canada Crushes Uruguay 93-67

In a game that was never in doubt, Canada crushed Uruguay 93-67 after having wait over 8 hours to play because of a blackout earlier in the day. Canada grabbed the lead early and worked their way up to a double-digit advantage just over 4 minutes into this contest. By the end of the first quarter, Uruguay trailed by 18 points and the rout was on.

Cory Joseph was still hot after his big game against Brazil, putting up 12 points on 4-6 shooting that included a pair of three-pointers in the first half, but on this day, everyone else in the starting lineup came out shooting hot as well. Andrew Nicholson led the first half scoring with 13 points on 5-6 shooting and both Tristan Thompson and Andy Rautins had 8 first half points. At the end of the second quarter Uruguay trailed by 26 points, down 51-25 as Canada was shooting over 50 percent from the field and had sunk 8-12 three-point attempts.

Canada was up by 33 points during the third quarter, so no one saw extended minutes in this game. Nicholson led all scorers with 18 points. Joseph finished with an impressive 17 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals. Tristan Thompson had 14 points and 7 rebounds, showing off a couple of massive open court dunks. Levon Kendall came through off the bench to help maintain Canada’s huge lead in the second half, scoring 13 points to go with 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocked shots. All 12 players on Canada’s roster played in this game and only Jermaine Anderson failed to score.

Uruguay’s defense never did get in sync and Canada was left open on the three-point line most of the night, eventually hitting on 15-29 three-point attempts. Uruguay wasn’t winning the battles inside either. Canada out rebounded Uruguay 34-22, won the points in the paint 18-12 and second chance points 7-2. Even the open court belonged to Canada on this night as Canada scored 13 fast break points to just 2 for Uruguay.

The lone bright spot for Uruguay was the 22-year-old guard Bruno Fitipaldo who had 18 points on 6-8 three-point attempts. It seemed every open shot the young guard took was dropping, but Uruguay couldn’t get him the ball often enough and there wasn’t much else positive happening for his team.

With the victory, Canada finishes second in group A and carries 2 wins over to the second round where they will play the top 4 teams from group B over 4 days starting on Thursday. The top 4 teams in the second round move on to the medal round and automatically qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Spain.

Canada plays Mexico on Thursday September 5 at 2pm. On Friday they face Venezuela, Saturday the Dominican Republic and on Sunday Argentina.

Canada vs Uruguay boxscore

Canada vs Uruguary Rescheduled

FIBA Americas has announced via twitter that:

“Electricity back, URU vs. CAN has been rescheduled for 22hs/10pm (Caracas time). The rest of the schedule is maintained.”

Jonas Valanciunas by Robertas Dačkus with permission (1)

Raptors Jonas Valanciunas Receives FIBA Honor

FIBA announced today that Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas will receive the 2012 FIBA Europe Young Men’s Player of the Year award immediately prior to Lithuania’s first game at the 2013 Eurobasket tournament in Solvenia on Wednesday.

This is the second year in a row that Valanciunas has won this award which is voted on by selected journalists and fans. Croatia’s Dario Saric was second in the voting and France’s Leo Westermann finished third.