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Jonas Valanciunas interview by Paul Saini (Fylmm

Raptors Jonas Valanciunas Dominates Australia in 91-78 win

The Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas made life miserable for Australia in the first half and Lithuania coasted to an easy 91-78 win in a friendly exhibition game on Monday. Australia was hoping for a better result.

The Aussies had no answer for the young Lithuanian big man who is coming into his own with his National team in just his first two games of the summer. When Australia took away the passing lanes into the post or doubled or even triple-teamed the big man, the Lithuanian guards and wings found the driving lanes wide open for easy baskets.

Single coverage on Valanciunas quickly became an even worse option. Midway through the first quarter Australia tried to go one-on-one against Valanciunas as they were down 13-7, however, the move backfired as the big man scored 7 of Lithuania’s next 9 points on a couple of nice post moves for hook shots and going 3-4 from the free throw line. Australia even tried overpowering Valanciunas with the Raptors rookie big man of 2008, the 6’10 280 lb Nathan Jawai, but Jawai couldn’t budge him in the post and couldn’t stop him at the other end. Jawai finished with no points, 2 rebounds and a couple of travelling calls.

Lithuania finished the first quarter up 24-15 and completely in control.

It was more of the same in the second quarter. Valanciunas subbed back in after a couple of minutes and after 6 quick and easy points, the Aussies went back to denying him the ball and living with the open shots and driving lanes for everyone else. Lithuania poured in 31 points during the 10 minute quarter and Valanciunas had 15 points and 6 rebounds at the half. The edge was already off of this game as it had become obvious Australia was overmatched. A 55-42 Lithuanian lead at the half stood up the rest of the way.

Valanciunas finished tied with a game-high 19 points and had a game-high 8 boards. Kalnietis had 12 points and 7 assists, Kuzminskas contributed 11 points and the Houston Rockets Donatas Motiejunas finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds.

Former Rockets, Hornets and Raptors player from the 2009-2011 seasons David Andersen led Australia with 19 points and 5 boards. The Cavaliers Matthew Dellavedova had 8 points and 6 assists. The Spurs Aron Baynes had 9 points and the soon-to-be Jazz rookie Dante Exum had 5 points and 4 assists.
Lithuania v Australia 8-11-14
Lithuania isn’t known for the strength of their guard play, however, their veterans were more than a match for the young Aussies on the other side.

Lithuania will now return home to continue preparations for the World Cup in Spain.


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.



photo credit Paul Saini