Day 3 Men: LTU 98 - GRE 76
Lithuania crushes Greece by 22
ATHENS - Lithuania took the high road to the Mens Olympic Basketball quarterfinals when it silenced Greece with a commanding 98-76 victory before 12,000 fans at Helliniko Indoor Arena on Thursday night.
The victory meant Lithuania has the only perfect 3-0 record in Group B and can likely clinch first place when it meets the United States on Saturday in its fourth of five preliminary games. Greece dropped to 1-2 and needs to beat Angola on Saturday to sustain its quarterfinal chances.
Ramunas SISKAUSKAS sparked a barrage of early 3-point shooting and finished with 25 points for Lithuania. Saulius STOMBERGAS was right behind with 22 and Darius SONGAILA scored 13 and Robertas JAVTOKAS 11.
Nikos ZIZIS scored 18 and Lazaros PAPADOPOULOS 13 for Greece.
Lithuania hit the floor and buried five long-distance shots in six minutes including two each by SISKAUSKAS and STOMBERGAS - to open a wide lead that it never really saw threatened thereafter by Greece.
More surprising than its excellent shooting was the Lithuanian defense, which contested most shots inside or on the perimeter and stymied the Greek attack. Soon, big man Eurelijus ZUKAUSKAS came on and blocked a series of shots that demoralised Greece.
That early blast also served to quiet the largely Greek crowd, which had little to cheer about as the Lithuanians seemed to hit nothing but net on everything they shot. The first quarter ended 28-10, and halfway through the second, a trio of Lithuanian shooters popped consecutively from the arc to make it 43-17.
When Greece merely tried to trim the difference which could be important in tiebreak situations later STOMBERGAS and SISKAUSKAS found their accuracy again. The result was a high lead of 82-44 and party time for the rowdy Lithuanian contingent in one corner of the arena.
Darius SONGAILA (LTU), Forward
On his team's domination:
"I don't believe the score reflects how strong a team is. As for our team we know each other and as such we how to play as a team together. We are not going to think about our next game against USA, we are just going to play."
Michail KAKIOUZIS (GRE), Forward
On Greece's loss:
"Today our performance was tragic. We were not able to find the rhythm of the game. We feel disappointed after today's game, especially because we lost in front of such an enthusiastic crowd. We must forget about this game, correct our mistakes and managed to present ourselves in a better manner in the next two games. We are optimistic concerning our future. The Lithuanians didn't miss any shots, in comparison to us. We allowed them many chances to shoot from within the perimeter and as such their psychological state improved. Nothing is written in stone and we will continue our efforts."
Nikolaos ZISIS (GRE), Guard
"All we can do is continue. And we owe a big thank you to the fans who came to support us tonight."
|Press conference quotes:|
Robertas JAVTOKAS, Center (LTU)
"Each one of us fulfilled the duties assigned by our head coach. Defense was the key to our success. The next game is against the United States, an extremely strong team. We will try to be as successful as we were tonight."
Antanas SIREIKA, Head Coach (LTU)
"We paid a lot of attention to this game. Our top priority was defense, and working well on defense gave us more confidence on offense. Our players showed great discipline. We had played Greece and lost in two friendly games, but then we won today, so probably we made some improvement.
Since Sydney, there have been several player and coach changes, but our traditional style remained the same.
I took the timeout seconds before the end because it was my last chance to substitute a player."
Konstantinos TSARTSARIS, Forward (GRE)
"We started flat, and our main problem was concentration. We gave up easy baskets from the perimeter and fell apart. Our psychology went down, and we found ourselves just trying to reduce the margin. We thank the fans for their support even when we were 30 or 40 points down. Hopefully they will stand by us in the next games as well."
Panagiotis GIANNAKIS, Head Coach (GRE)
"It's no use evaluating such a game. We were not patient, we lost control, we tried to finish off the game in one possession and this just can't happen. It was a good lesson from a perfect offensive team. The Lithuanians wanted to destroy us in the second half, but we came out with better offensive options and with a will to defend, while the fans gave us faith and we tried at least to play good Basketball. It's a game that we lost, that's all. We will put it behind us, analyze our mistakes and try to harness our enthusiasm, which cost us dearly.
I am worried about the effects of such a loss on my players, but I will stay on the fact that this team showed nothing in the first half and was down by 30, and, instead of giving up and lose by 50 against a team with extraordinary shooting percentages, our kids fought to show that they can play good Basketball. That's why I like being among them. Only in bad situations you can see if someone really wants to achieve something.
I figured we could play better defense, move the ball better and hit from the paint. But we fell out of our defense plan from the very first second. To be successful in the games to come and in big games in general, we need to be patient."
Source: Athens news service