Lithuania Stays Undefeated
Lithuania 88, France 73 (Monday 9/10)
- Lithuania just had too much offensive firepower that France can't match. Much like Russia's offense could not keep up with Spain's firepower, France's anemic offense is less potent than Russia's, so they had little chance matching Lithuania's output. France made a mini-rally early in the 3rd when they went on an unlikely 3pt barrage (4/5 in the 1st 5 minutes), but eventually returned to their normal poor shooting ways later in the quarter, and the offense predictably fell apart.
- Saras Jasikevicius was masterful running the show, and no one in this tourney controls the flow of the game better than Saras. No way he had only 7 assts, had to have at least 10, and is probably the case since they're notoriously stingy in handing out dimes in the int'l game. Uses the high pick & roll as well as any PG in basketball, worked well with R. Javtokas in the 2nd quarter, leading to multiple dunks for Javtokas. Was zipping pinpoint passes thru the France defense, including a bullet to Simas Jasaitis cutting on the baseline. I believe all of Simas Jasaitis' 13 pts came off of Saras' playmaking & passes. Saras also hit three 3pters. for 14 pts.
- I know we just covered this, but, please, someone in GS get this guy to a place where he can contribute. And GMs like Danny Ainge & Danny Ferry should be doing everything they can to acquire Saras. I know he's a defensive liability & not saying he should be a starter, but he's more than capable of being a solid back-up PG in the NBA or situations where he can split minutes (Cle., Bos. Mia.). He would work great in the Utah system as well, and they could use back-up PG help as well. Let him run pick/rolls & accord him the freedom like Nash to make decisions at his will when on the floor.
- Like in the Slovenia game, Parker found his operating area cramped by extra defenders shadowing him. Lithuania did not let him turn the corner into the lane, had 2-3 defenders waiting for him. Rimas Kaukenas did a solid job as the primary defender on Tony, though his job was made easier with plenty of help behind him. Can't remember too many patented Parker finishes & Tony only attempted 9 shots for a 11 pt, 6 asst day. I'm sure Tony is pining for the services of Manu, Finley, Horry, & Bowen spacing the floor for him, or maybe just wishing France would hire Chip Engelland to fix their collection of nasty shooters.
- Lithuania played a fair amount of man2man but they were sagged-in, encouraging perimeter shots, and France took the bait--France took 36 3pt attempts, way more than this team wants to take. Lithuania played a some zone in the 2nd half, but it actually seemed like their zone was more stretched out than their man.
- Have to give some credit to Lithuania for their solid defensive performance thru-out Euro '07. You know the offense will always be potent for Lith, but the play on the defensive end has always been somewhat spotty thru the years. The defense looks durable enough to make Lithuania the no. 1 contender to Team Espana.
- Ramunas Siskauskas did the two things he's known for: drill jumpers & bull his way to the hoop--he led Lith with 19 pts (7/8 fts) & 5 rebs. Darius Songaila continued his steady workmanlike effort with 17 pts & 7 rebs on 7/11. Songaila just quietly goes about his business, you barely recognize his impact, and sometimes are surprised how productive he is when looking at the stats.
- Florent Pietrus continued to be France's 2nd best player with strong play at both ends--13 pts & 2 blks. What 'bout Boris Diaw? Really not much to say. Another virtual no-show on offense from Boris (1/8 shooting), though he did continue to bring some rebounding to the table. Diaw is only averaging 7.6 ppg, and shooting just 36% from the floor.
- Lithuania now has a showdown with undefeated Slovenia to see who gets the #1-seed in Group F. I have to go with Lith in this one--they have been more impressive overall, especially on the offensive end. We'll see if Slovenia's premier perimeter defender, Goran Dragic, can contain Saras like he did with Parker.
Not a lot to say about Tuesday's action, as Group E was pretty well set and there were no surprises, although Israel played Spain tough until the home squad took control in the 4th. Greece handled Portugal and Russia topped Croatia, so here are the final standings for that group:
1. Spain 4-1
2. Russia 4-1
3. Greece 3-2
4. Croatia 2-3
5. Portugal 1-4
6. Israel 1-4
Portugal and Israel are eliminated and the top 4 will move on to the quarterfinals.
Group F action is highlighted by a huge matchup between Italy and Germany, which will decide which team moves on. Lithuania, Slovenia and France are already in.