The Toronto Raptors Jonas Valanciunas didn’t arrive in Lithuania until Thursday and in his first game this summer for his National team against Finland on Saturday he dominated the paint putting up a beastly game-high 20 points and 11 rebounds in Lithuania’s 83-66 blowout victory.
It didn’t start out smoothly for the 22-year-old center as Finland raced out to an 8-0 lead while Valanciunas and his teammates looked befuddled by the Fins, however, it was Valanciunas that scored first for Lithuania to start the comeback and as he started to look more comfortable, he pulled in 5 boards before being subbed out. The first quarter ended 18-13 for Finland.
Lithuania tied the game and took the lead early in the second quarter and the game was back-and-forth for the next 10 minutes. Valanciunas subbed in midway through and quickly scored as he started to dominate inside. Valanciunas went 4-4 from the free throw line and added two powerful dunks to score 10 points in the quarter and help Lithuania go into the half up 40-39.
As has often been the case with Lithuania this summer, they started the game slow and finished strong. In the third quarter Lithuania dominated Finland 29-16 to take control of the match. Valanciunas finished strong scoring 7 more points in the fourth quarter before he sat down. The Fins had no answer for him in the post but to foul him.
Gerald Lee, who played four years at old Dominion, scored 20 points for Finland. The 26-year-old Lee averaged 15.5 points per game in the Eurocup for Ploiesti this past season.
It was a good start for Valanciunas as he helps his teammates prepare for the upcoming World Cup in Spain on August 30th. However, Valanciunas still has a lot to work through before the games start to count, FIBA is very different from what he has become accustomed to in the NBA.