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Lithuania Loses Mantas Kalneitis In Friendly With Croatia

In the final friendly match before the 2014 World Cup in Spain Lithuania lost their second game in a row, but far more devastating was the loss of starting point guard Mantas Kalnietis.

After only 2 minutes and 14 seconds, Kalnietis left the game with a suspected shoulder injury.

 

 

 

Lithuania lost all focus after seeing Kalnietis depart and the first quarter turned into a rout that ended with Croatia in the lead 25-12 on the strength of numerous sloppy plays and turnovers by Lithuania.  

 

 

After the game, the worst fears of the Lithuanian team were confirmed, Kalnietis is expected to miss the World Cup.

 

 

Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas had a strong game in the post for Lithuania scoring 16 points on 5-8 from the field to go with 4 rebounds and 2 assists and Jonas Maciulis came through with a 20 point effort as they came back to within 7 points a couple of times in the fourth quarter before Croatia put the game away 94-80.

For Croatia, the Brooklyn Nets Bojan Bogdanovic had a monster game with 24 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. The Philadelphia 76ers 2014 12th overall draft pick Dario Saric took advantage of Lithuania’s first quarter funk to score 10 quick points on his way to a 16 point, 2 rebound, 4 assist game.

The loss of Kalnietis was a shock to Lithuania and a huge blow to their chances of picking up a medal at the World Cup this summer.

Lithuana isn’t known for depth at guard and they will miss Kalnietis at both ends of the court. Without him on the floor versus Croatia, easy passes into the post went astray and Lithuania’s ability to take advantage of their size inside has been put in some doubt. This loss is significant.

 

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Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.