Team Spain showed why it’s such a threat to take the 2010 FIBA World Championships yesterday by dispatching Lithuania with ease, 97-76. Lithuania enjoyed its biggest lead of the game at 8-4 in the third minute of play, but Spain’s subsequent 26-8 run capped by five points from Ricky Rubio put the defending champs up 30-16 after one quarter and there was no looking back.
(Incidentally, if you think that mention of Señor Rubio is serving mostly as an excuse to include the Human YouTube Clip’s highlight video for the game, well, you know BiE too well. But seriously, check out the damage done on both ends of the floor by the Spanish sensation.)
Particularly problematic for Lithuania were turnovers, who as a team committed some 25, including 14 from the starting five: guards Arvydas Eituatvičius and Mindaugas Lukauskis combined for eight while Linas Kleiza “contributed” four and Robertas Javtokas threw away another two. Lithuania also could not compete inside, sending Spaniards to the free throw line 29 times against their mere 15 trips.
Top scorer for Lithuania was Kleiza with 15 on 5-of-10 shooting, while Tomas Delininkaitis saw lots of time off the bench to add 14 on 5-of-8 from the floor. Four Team Spain starters finished in double figures, with Juan Carlos Navarro putting in 17, Marc Gasol 14, Felipe Reyes 11 and Jose Calderon 10.
Meanwhile, Turkey took advantage of home support and an overwhelmed New Zealand side to “clinically dispatch” the Tall Blacks, 87-65. Team New Zealand had reportedly entered the game “quietly satisfied with a narrow 76-71 loss [on Friday] to European runners-up Serbia,” but it would appear to be back to the drawing board for the antipodean team.
Like Lithuania, New Zealand last saw the lead at 8-7 in the first quarter. However, this rapidly became a 19-point halftime deficit which would expand to 25 in the third quarter as Team Turkey went on cruise control.
Hedo Turkoglu directed traffic for the Turks and closed the game with 12 points, mostly scored in the first half. Ersan Ilysova put in 14 points and Kerem Tunceri added 12. Top scorers for New Zealand were sharpshooter Kirk Penney and Phillip Jones, each with 13.