Valanciunas vital in Lithuania’s last win
A MASSIVE double-double from star big man Jonas Valanciunas led Lithuania past Slovenia to the tune of 16 points in the final match of the classification round on Thursday night.
Both sides were eliminated in the quarterfinals, with Lithuania falling to Serbia while Slovenia was bested by Canada on Wednesday night. However, the tournament was not over for these teams, with the classification games taking place on Thursday night. Lithuania had shown its potential with a big upset over Team USA earlier in the week, while any team with Luka Doncic on the roster is always considered dangerous.
Lithuania started the game in red-hot fashion, storming out of the gates with a magnificent offensive performance in the opening quarter, dropping 33 points to Slovenia’s 31. Doncic was well-held for the entirety of the match, and while Lithuania could not maintain the output from the opening quarter, it was able to hold on for a 100-84 triumph.
At the forefront of the action for Lithuania was Valanciunas, who was a monster in the paint and caused plenty of problems for Slovenia across all four quarters.
Lithuania (100) def. Slovenia (84)
Jonas Valanciunas – 24 points, 12 rebounds, one steal, one block
Valanciunas is the biggest name on Lithuania’s roster, and justified that with a powerful performance against Slovenia on Thursday night. He was Lithuania’s top scorer with 24 points, doing most of his damage inside the paint as Slovenia’s interior defence fell apart.
The Lithuanian roster has been built well with a solid balance of perimeter shooters and inside scorers, making it tough to defend given the team’s ability to find a basket from all three levels. It started the match shooting well from behind the arc, and Slovenia had a clear mindset to guard the perimeter.
As a result of this, it freed up Valanciunas inside the paint, where his ability to finish close to the hoop came in play. The big man rolled to the basket superbly, finding himself in scoring position more often than not.
He finished the game shooting 8/15 from the field, becoming a focal point of the team’s offence and using his physical presence to inspire on the offensive end.
Valanciunas was also a significant player on the glass too, and was the only one on the court to finish with double-digit rebounds. He ended the game with 12 boards, including three on the offensive end that opened up the opportunity for second chance points.
Lithuania may not have advanced to the semifinals, but Valanciunas gave the nation something to cheer about with another strong performance en route to victory.