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04/08/2012
Sarunas Jasikevicius (Lithuania)

LONDON (Olympics) - Lithuania might not have got the win against the USA, but they came away from their game with a huge sense of accomplishment and were given a glowing tribute by their opponents.

Kestutis Kemzura's team trailed by as many as 12 against the defending Olympic and World champions. However, they never gave up and instead pushed the Americans to the limit, eventually losing out 99-94.

The key to avoiding getting blown out for Lithuania was straightforward enough - regardless of what the Americans do, stick to what you do best.

"I think we finally played how we know we can play and we executed our game plan which I think was the most important thing," said Martynas Pocius who finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

"We tried to minimise the turnovers as much as possible which is key against a team like this. We also tried to make them shoot contested shots."

Whenever they find themselves in a close game at halftime, the USA are usually able to blow the contest wide open with a strong third quarter.

This though didn't happen against the Lithuanians, who trailed 55-51 at the break and were still within striking distance, down 78-72 heading into the fourth quarter.

"We took a good step forward in staying in the game in the third quarter," Kemzura said.

In fact, the Lithuanias even got the lead in the final frame, as Linas Kleiza buried a deep three-pointer from the left wing for an 82-80 edge with seven minutes left to play.

So why were the Lithuanians able to play so well and freely? Well there's two answers.

"It's one of those games where you have nothing to lose. No one expects you to win. The only thing for us is we didn't want to get blown out," Pocius summed up.

Kemzura can shed some light on the second reason.

"(Darius) Songaila, Linas Kleiza and Sarunas Jasikevicius - they played against these guys (USA) before so they're not afraid. They know what to expect. So they led and the others followed," he offered.

After Kleiza put them ahead, the Lithuanians did get derailed, committing a number of errors down the stretch. These resulted into a game-deciding 17-6 run by the Americans.

"We made a couple of turnovers which is the worst thing that you can do against a team like this. They make a run and they score on fastbreaks," Pocius explained.

Kemzura concurred, pointing out: "We let them get some rebounds and we turned over the ball."

The Americans will come away from this game knowing they have some areas to address. However, they were quick to point out their counterparts on the day deserved a ton of credit.

"It's not so much how bad we were, it's more how great they were," said USA point guard Chris Paul, who made a key play down the stretch when he tipped an offensive rebound back out to Deron Williams who dialled in from long range for a 95-88 advantage with 2:45 left to play.

"It was a great game. A lot of credit goes to Lithuania who executed their game plan. They are definitely the toughest game we've had.

"We know they are a great team. Luckily we got some stops down the stretch. We knew this was going to be a dogfight and they played an unbelievable game."

Lithuania now look ahead to their game against Tunisia on Monday with a lot of positiveness.

"If we keep our spirit high and play like this in our next games, I think we should be alright," said Pocius.

FIBA

  
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