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Valanciunas and Baynes

No Show By Jonas Valanciunas Costs Lithuania Vs. Australia

Lithuania lost their first game at the 2014 FIBA World Cup to Australia 82-75 as their star center Jonas Valanciunas was a no show in the first half and barely impacted the game after that. Australia ran up a nine point lead in Valanciunas’ first four minutes before Head Coach Jonas Kazlauskas sat him down and it only made things worse when he brought him back in later in the half.

It was the Spurs free agent big man Aron Baynes that dominated early on with 10 first quarter points as the Aussies ran up a 30-20 advantage. With the Raptors Valanciunas on the bench in the second quarter, the bleeding stopped for Lithuania, but they weren’t able to score either. However, after Valanciunas was subbed back in midway through, Australia went on a 10-2 run to close out the half up 47-28. Valanciunas had 0 points, 3 rebounds and 3 turnovers at half, Baynes had 14 points and Joe Ingles found the range to net 14 points as well. The Rockets Donatas Motiejunas was equally ineffective for Lithuania and they were in trouble.

Kazlauskas went to the veteran twin brothers Darjus and Ksistof Lavrinovic to start the second half at power forward and center with great effect. Lithuania came out with a previously unseen intensity and went on a 10-0 run before Australia responded. The older big men showed the young guys how it’s done, stifling Baynes and proving hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work as hard. Cutting the 19-point deficit to 8 before Kazlauskas went back to Valanciunas after 6.7 minutes and Lithuania maintained the momentum to close the gap to 62-56 after three quarters.

Lithuania had their chances to tie the game, getting to within three points twice in the fourth quarter, however, Martynas Pocius missed two layups in the final minute for Lithuania and a game they never deserved to win went to the Aussies. Appropriately, Valanciunas was watching from the bench when Darjus Lavrinovic hit the three-pointer that closed the gap to 69-66 with 4.5 minutes left.

Veteran guard Renaldas Seibutis led Lithuania with 21 points. The Lavrinovic brothers had 22 points between them. Valanciunas finished with 4 points, 6 rebounds and 5 turnovers.

Ingles led Australia with 18 points as they improved their record to 2-1 and moved into a tie with Lithuania in Group D.



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.