Congratulations go out this morning to the Lithuania under-18 team, which capped an undefeated romp through the 2010 FIBA U18 European Championship with a 90-61 crushing of Russia in Vilnius. A crowd of 13,000 – the all-time record for a youth game in Europe – contributed their efforts as 13th man.
While not much is expected out of Team Lithuania at the 2010 FIBA World Championship, the youth development – and especially that of the talented 1992-born group – rolls on.
Jonas Valanciunas was named tournament MVP and was joined on the all-tourney squad by his teammate, shooting guard Deividas Pukis.
BallinEurope’s suggestion for 2011, when basketball-insane Lithuania hosts Eurobasket 2011: Just take this team, add Linas Kleiza and go!
Official FIBA writeup follows the break.
(FIBA) – The 1992 generation of Lithuanian basketball once more proved its dominance with another big performance in the title game of the OMNITEL U18 European Championship taking a 90-61 victory over Russia at Siemens Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Sunday night.
A record attendance of 13,000 fanatic local fans filled the arena in green, yellow and red to create an atmosphere that is unique only to the very top games of the senior level in European basketball.
With such great support, the Lithuanian team had no other choice but to pamper the devoted fans with a unique performance that left their opponent no chance right from the first minute until the great finish.
Two years ago in the 2008 U16 European Championship, Lithuania won the gold medal in a one-sided final game after not dropping a single game the whole championship and Jonas Valanciunas was voted as the MVP.
The year 2010 told the same story only this time in the fitting age category competition. No fewer than eight players from that team participated in this campaign as the main actors of the show.
Just like then Lithuania went through the entire championship unbeaten and after a 75-33 win two years ago, this time they settled for just a 29-point gap in the title game.
After making the semifinals of the U18 European Championship for the fourth time in a row, Lithuania finally won the gold medal. This is the second gold medal ever for Lithuania in this age category and the first since the 1994 games in Tel Aviv.
The biggest star to come out of the first golden team is no other than the 2003 EuroBasket champion and MVP Sarunas Jasikevicius who, like other Lithuania basketball legends, attended Siemens Arena to watch the next generation of their country.
Yet another legend to attend the game was Arvydas Sabonis, whose son Tautvydas is a member of the golden team.
Russia participated for the first time ever in the grand finale, and will settle for their first ever medal in an U18 championship.
Valanciunas kept his best performance for the gold medal game and posted 31 points with just three missed shots and 18 boards, while another All-Tournament member Deividas Pukis added his tournament high with 21 points, Renaldas Simanavicius scored 12, and Zygimantas Skucas finished with 10 points.
Russia saw Sergey Karasev collect 15 points, Vladislav Trushkin added 13, and Tamirlan Bekkiev finished with 11.
Valanciunas was joined by Skucas and Vytenis Cizasuskas to bestow their team a great advantage under the boards with a 59-33 advantage in the rebounds, behind 25 on the offensive glass.
The very first minutes quickly displayed how this game would develop as Lithuania climbed to an 10-2 lead and grabbed four rebounds on offense in less than five minutes.
Cizauskas was all over the place and with great playmaking and passing skills and now also with offensive rebounds distributed the ball to his teammates to make it an 18-6 game two minutes later.
Valanciunas was a presence and Russia had trouble to get inside the paint, yet their shots from outside hit the rim and in one possession they managed to miss four times only to witness Pukis hit twice from the arc and create a 26-9 margin right before the first buzzer.
Back on the court from the short break, Pukis was still on fire and despite a hand in his face, sank another long-distance bomb to make it a 20 point game, 31-11, before the 11th minute.
Russia finally found some help as Karasev scored five in a row and Bekkiev hit one from the arc, and suddenly it was just a 13 point game, 28-15. Kulagin scored his first points only after 17 minutes to cut the margin even lower but Valanciunas with two off-balance shots following an offensive rebound kept his team safely ahead with a 46-31 halftime lead.
Just in case someone on the Russian bench had any plans for a second half upset, Pukis and Valanciunas scored the first seven points from the break to make it a 22-point difference. The future MVP was too much to handle and Pukis kept his three-point show on to keep their team 20 points up entering the last quarter, 63-43.
Skucas dished two assists to Valanciunas and a big dunk raised the cheers to the roof, before the fifth three pointer by Pukis sank in and the big celebrations in the stands went into full gear.