• Mercifully we saw some close games and exciting finishes today. Dario Saric almost choked it away for Croatia but came up big at the game’s pivotal moment. Lithuania started strong and snoozed through the second half, narrowly dodging a defeat from the home team in Group B. The US Women unsurprisingly blew some doors off against Senegal but the rest of the women’s field looks competitive.

    If nothing else, Day 2 was a lot more fun than Day 1.

    Today’s Results

    Men’s

    Lithuania 82 vs. Brazil 76
    Croatia 72 vs. Spain 70
    Nigeria vs. Argentina

    Women’s

    USA 121 vs. Senegal 56
    Serbia 65 vs. Spain 59
    Australia 61 vs. Turkey 56
    France 73 vs. Belarus 72

    Brazil vs. Lithuania

    The first men’s game of the day looked like another blowout until an impressive second half rally from Brazil. The Brazilians entered with visions of keeping Jonas Valanciunas away from the basket and did a good job with that for the most part. Lithuania capitalized on some sloppy perimeter defense and ran their sets to perfection, ripping Brazil apart with their good shooters coming off excellent screens. Once Brazil paid more attention to the pick and pop game the paint opened up for Lithuania, who shot 72% from the floor and got whatever they wanted in a clinical first half performance. The second half was a different story; Lithuania scored just 24 points in the entire second half after posting 27 and 31 points in the first two quarters.

    There were strong performances up and down the roster despite the near-collapse. Knicks-bound Mindaugas Kuzminskas (#19) looked good off the bench while Antanas Kavaliauskas (#12) dominated the paint when Valanciunas sat. JV was disappointing; fouling out with just 6 points and 3 rebounds. While his output left a lot to be desired, Lithuania used his gravity to fire open shots from both the mid-range and deep. Paulius Jankunas (#13) was killer from the mid-range in the first half as Brazil selling out to protect the paint played into his skill set nicely. Long-time point guard Mantas Kalnietis led the way with 16 points while Jankunas turned in a nice all-around game with 16-7-3.

    Brazil started poorly and struggled to contain the bigger Lithuanians. Their defense was over-aggressive at times and they were stymied at the other end by a suffocating Lithuanian defense for the first 30 minutes. Poor shooting from the three point line (2-14) and charity stripe (22-35) also loomed large given their tremendous second half surge. A really nice 3rd quarter led by Leandro Barbosa closed the gap to 18 and got the crowd back into it for a massive push in the 4th that saw a deficit of 30 trimmed to just 4 points. Lithuania’s first half execution was just too much to overcome.

    They got impressive games from Barbosa and Jazz guard Raul Neto and the offense seemed to kick into high gear when they let those two create freely. The first half saw lots of plays forced into the post for Nene to poor results. Maybe Brazil enters their next game with a looser offense that will leverage Barbosa’s speed and creativity; their penetration turned Nene into a threat on the offensive glass and formed a much more balanced attack.

    Top Performers

    Lithuania Brazil
    Points Kalnietis 16
    Jankunas 15
    Seibutis 11
    Barbosa 21
    Neto 14
    Nene 11
    Rebounds Jankunas 7
    Maciulis 6
    Kuzminskas 5
    Nene 8
    Lima 6
    Felicio 4
    Assists Kalnietis 7
    Jankunas / Seibutus 3
    Valanciunas / Maciulis 2
    Huertas 3
    Nene/Barbosa/Marquinhos 2
    Neto / Lima 1

    Stray Thoughts:

    • Brazil did a great job of not letting Valanciunas get the ball in the post
    • Felt like Brazil wanted to funnel the ball to Sabonis; he looked tentative early and seemed surprise by Brazilian pressure. He did convert a huge and-1 to pretty much ice the game
    • Huertas has some fun game; it’s a shame he couldn’t squeak out more minutes in a meaningless Lakers season if only for the entertainment value
    • I don’t know what happened at halftime but Lithuania looked like a completely different team coming out of the locker room
    • Lithuania was battling the whistle in the second half; their first free throw of the half was Sabonis’s and-1 to extend the lead to 7 with about 1:20 left to go
      • Free throws: Brazil 22-35, Lithuania 15-18
    • Nene took a horrible foul to all but ice the game, hacking with 3 seconds left on the shot clock with 17.8 seconds to go. Awful decision making from one of the team leaders
    • Brazil still struggled to move the ball on their big run; 11:13 assist to turnover ratio shows the Iso-heavy reality of Barbosa as a lead dog
    • I suppose that’s the reward for dominating everyone, but it’s a shame Team USA won’t get to face off against these Group B teams. There could be some fun games in there
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