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.
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