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Jonas Valanciunas the beard

Raptors Jonas Valanciunas Leads Lithuania Past Latvia 68-49

Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas led all scorers as Lithuania defeated their close rival Latvia 68-49 in their second match at Eurobasket 2015.

Valanciunas scored 15 points, grabbed 7 boards, 2 steals and blocked 2 shots in 22 minutes. FIBA named Jonas Maciulis the game hero for his double-double in 30 minutes of action.

Game Hero: Jonas Maciulis showed a real appetite for the big moments. He scored 13 points off 5-of-10 shooting, a perfect 3-of-3 from downtown, and typified his team’s refusal to accept anything but victory.

The game was close through the first half as Lithuania took a 1-point lead into the break and it stayed close in the third quarter until Lithuania managed an 8-1 run to close out the quarter up 49-39. A 5-0 run to open the fourth quarter sealed the deal as Latvia couldn’t crack Lithuania’s defense. The postgame interviews with Basketnews.lt summed things up:

Jonas Kazlauskas, the Lithuanian national team coach: “Today we played differently than yesterday, much better defense and we were a real team. In the second half of the game, with a lot of defense and it was very important. I did not expect to win such a difference. Both teams know each other very well, and even some combinations are similar. We know their strengths parts – and they us. Latvians are playing at home and felt the pressure. ”

John Maciulis, Lithuanian striker: “Latvia as a team fell apart after our spurt in the third quarter. I can understand Latvian emotions, because they are playing at home. In this team the fans have high expectations and this match between the Baltic countries, they have great importance.”

“Ronald Freimanis Latvian striker:” I thank the fans have been great to play in such an atmosphere. During the first two quarters we showed a good defense, and all fared well. I find it hard to explain what happened after the break. The Lithuanians were just better. We need to recover from this terrible failure and show character. “