Just completed was the deciding game in Group A of the Nike International Junior Tournament – and for Crvena Zvezda the results were ugly indeed.
While Dusan Ristic had his now-standard killer game for the Serbian side with 21 points and 10 rebounds, the tenacious play of the Lithuanians (clearly still rolling from their incredible second half against FC Barcelona yesterday) resulted in a huge 105-69 victory for Lietuvos Rytas. Augustinas Jankaitis chased his double-double of 16/13 yesterday – and augmented his chances of ultimately being named MVP of this tourney – with an amazing 30-point, 11-rebound performance.
Once again, Crvena Zvezda appeared to consciously eschew a physical game, a style which this Lithuanian side is not at all afraid to play. L. Rytas won the battle of the boards handily, with 39 against the Red Star’s mere 26.
And how’s this for depth? After Jankaitis, three other L. Rytas players (Tautvydas Jodelis, Alvydas Zarskus, Edvinas Seskus) went for double figures – and all three came off the bench. Moreover, 11 of L. Rytas’ 12 players tallied at least one rebound. If Crvena Zvezda boasted a size advantage going into the game, by the final buzzer the players had shrunk to bite-sized against these marvelous all-skilled Lithuanian team.
Next up for Lietuvos Rytas: The championship game against … well, we’re still awaiting the results on the Group B games before things shake out. As of this writing, L. Rytas’ rivals Žalgiris Kaunas have a 41-26 lead on Dario Saric and KK Zagreb but, should Žalgiris win, a all-Lithuania NIJT final would still depend on the outcome of today’s Fenerbahçe Ülker-Team China match.