Quarter Finals Men: LTU 95 - CHN 75
Lithuania stays perfect through quarterfinals
ATHENS - Lithuania will take the only undefeated record in Olympic Men's Basketball into another semifinal after rolling to a 95-75 quarterfinal victory over China on Thursday at Olympic Indoor Hall.
Lithuania reaches its fourth consecutive Olympic Games semifinal and will play the winner of the match between Italy and Puerto Rico, whose quarterfinal game comes later Thursday. Lithuania possesses bronze medals from 1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney.
Arvydas MACIJAUSKAS (pictured) came off the bench and poured in 32 points for Lithuania, while Robertas JAVTOKAS added 14 and Darius SONGAILA 10.
The Chinese got into a free-flow shooting contest with the Lithuanians and couldn't keep up. YAO Ming paced his team with 29 points. LI Nan contributed 19 and ZHU Fangyu 10.
China gave Lithuania a taste of its own medicine in the first quarter, connecting on three 3-points shots in the first six minutes on the way to a 17-12 lead. After a timeout, however, Lithuania used a zone defense that stopped China cold while its first shot from outside, by Saulius STOMBERGAS, sparked a 13-0 run leading to a 25-19 advantage after 10 minutes.
Three shots from the arc to start the second quarter by MACIJAUSKAS, STOMBERGAS and Ramunas SISKAUSAS extended Lithuania's run to 24-2 and its lead to 36-21. China copied with its own trio of triples, two of them by ZHU, to get within 38-30, but MACIJAUSKAS popped from downtown to start a new 12-2 run, then finished the half with his third 3-pointer for a 53-37 Lithuania lead.
China cut the deficit to 10 twice in the third quarter on triples by LI Nan, the last time at 58-48. But again Lithuania peppered the basket with points. Now a 15-6 run with five points by SISKAUSKAS pushed the lead to 20 before the third quarter finished with Lithuania ahead 74-57.
MACIJAUSKAS kept hitting shots in the final quarter and China could not cut the Lithuanian lead any lower than 13 points.
China will now face Spain, which lost to the United States in their quarterfinal, in a game for seventh place on Saturday morning.
Ke CHEN (CHN), Forward
On the game:
"We have been preparing very well for these Games. We lost to Lithuania today because we are simply not at the same level of playing. We played well to this day, but they were a better team."
Mindaugas ZUKAUSKAS (LTU), Forward
On his predictions for his team:
"It was a tough game. The most difficult games are played in the Quarterfinals because everybody is playing for the medals. Winning in the Quarterfinals is a one-way street. We still have two games to win before the Gold medal match, anyway."
On the possibility of playing against the United States:
"Four years ago in Sydney, we lost to the United States at a very close match. We have already beaten them once here but it will be like double revenge if we get to beat them in the finals. Of course, it is difficult to get past the Semifinals, first. Maybe we will not even play against the United States, because every team deserves to be in the Semifinals in this Tournament."
On the secret of his team's winning streak:
"There are no secrets to our wins. Anyway, we still have to games to play, which we have to win. In two games' time, I will tell you."
|Press conference quotes:|
Ming YAO (CHN), Center
On the game:
"We are not playing at the same status as Lithuania. We wanted to be very strong in the game, but we lost because we did not manage to block the players not holding the ball. We need to play defense against everybody."
On his performance:
"Of course I believe that I have proven myself. I have played a lot of games all over the world."
On his team's future:
"We should now know how the Europeans play at this level and how we can reach them. We now know how to improve ourselves."
Arvydas MACIJAUSKAS, Guard (LTU)
"Today we were successful against a strong team, and the fact that they beat Serbia/Montenegro confirms that. Their lineup features the best center in the tournament in YAO Ming. It was very hard for us to stop him. Chinese perimeter players are also good shooters and hard to defend, despite their lack of some skills like driving and passing. Maybe the coach is going to be angry because we didn't play that well, but we won and we're happy about that."
Antanas SIREIKA, Head Coach (LTU)
On the game:
"Before the Olympic Games start, every coach's headache is the quarterfinals. At this stage, the highest pressure builds up for both coaches and players. We did not play very well, but I am very happy we overcame that barrier. A big stone fell out of the coach's heart."
On the late Arunas PAKULA:
"After the game against Australia, we received bad news. Arunas PAKULA, famous journalist and Basketball fan, passed away. We kept a minute of silence with the team on his memory. We will remember him as a person that dedicated his life to our sport."
LI Nan, Forward, Team Captain (CHN)
On the game:
"We are happy to be in the final eight. Before the game we had a hope of winning. We started well on offense, not entirely relying on YAO Ming, but when Lithuania changed their defense we didn't cope well. I hope we learn from this experience to be more well-prepared for the game against Spain."
On coach Del HARRIS and his contribution to Chinese Basketball:
"It is the first time China has hired a coach from abroad. He taught us the rules of the game and encouraged us to develop as players and as a team. He helped us to change our attitude towards the game and come out on the floor to play with all our heart."
Del HARRIS, Head Coach (CHN)
On the game:
"It's a disappointment that we didn't win the game. There was already a great deal of satisfaction in the team, but we came here today to win. We knew about Lithuania more than for any other team in the tournament, as our assistant head coach Jonas KAZLAUSKAS has coached every player in this team and the national team itself for six years. He warned the players to watch their shooters, and we did well with some of them, but No 6 (MACIJAUSKAS) just knocked us out. We didn't have a bad game, but Lithuania had a great game, and that made the difference. I felt better about the team's performance in the second half. If you look at China's results in past Olympic Games, even when they finished 8th, you will see they lost games by 60 or 70 points, and now they showed me a will to fight I was very pleased with. I hope we benefited from playing in this high-class world competition and that we finish well against the team we also started the tournament against, Spain."
On his own gains from coaching in China:
"This is the fourth country I have represented as a coach, including my own, and I have learned something from all of those experiences. During this spell I had the opportunity to find out how kind, thoughtful and generous Chinese people are. I liked to be with these players; they were the easiest group to coach I've ever had. And they are wonderful human beings. I'm glad I did it."
Source: Athens news service