Surely this game needs no introduction: It’s the defending European champions against the red-hot, lightning-quick Lithuanians. Lithuania is a player down, but there’s still that 13th man of the crowd and the straight-up willpower of the home team backs by 16,000 volts of tradition, neither of which should be underestimated.
Get ready for a wild one, and follow the BallinEurope live blogging below the break. Enjoy!
Pregame. O yes, Arvydas Sabonis is in the house, sitting alongside various politicos and Lithuanian bigwigs.
Much has been made of this crowd, but geez, if the opposition has Pau and Marc Gasol on the same floor in a European game, you could put 55,000 in here and it might not make a difference…
First quarter. 9.35: Marc touches the ball twice and defers against a smaller defender, seeking to get the outside game going early. Calderon for two.
8.46: Nice give-and-go in the lane. Javtokas to Jankunas. 2-2.
8.02: “LIETUVA! LIETUVA! LIETUVA!”
7.47: Jankunas again in the paint; apparently, Lithuania won’t be intimidated by the Gasol Towers. Tied at 5.
7.02: Both teams are mostly staying away from contact in the middle; logical, since both sides are definitely preferring a wide-open floor and FAST game in this tournament. (Of course, that’s how Spain always plays…)
6.30: Javtokas put in his first two, but Navarro hits the three from the corner. Lithuania’s let him take that shot twice already. Spain, 9-7.
5.29: Marc just shovel it in from the lane.
5.14: Bad turnover for Lithuania … and Pau makes them pay with the alley-oop from Rudy Fernandez.
4.47: The old leader Saras checks in with Spain up 13-7. Lithuania now has the four team fouls.
4.19: Spain is simply feeling no pressure thus far. Marc with the between the legs backward pass to Fernandez to Navarro, who draws the foul. Hits both FTs to make it 15-7. Unflappably.
4.03: Marc with his first board sends Spain off to the races and Navarro pulls up for another two. He’s got eight now, the game’s top scorer. Jankunas is stuck at five for Lithuania, who’re down, 18-7. Timeout called by Lietuva.
3.49: Songaila with the foul gives the ball back to Spain again. Sergio Llull checks in. (already? Weird.)
3.22: A steal by Calderon starts a half-court sprint, ending with the hack of Marc. He sinks both for a big 22-7 lead for Spain.
2.38: Nothing is falling for Lithuania; they’re just 3-of-9 from the floor early.
2.27: Saras with the nice feed to Valanciunas, who flips over Llull in the key; makes only 1 of 2 FTs.
2.11: SWEET rejection by Valanciunas on Marc. And here BiE was thinking the Gasols would eat him alive … as if to further disprove BiE’s doubts, he knocks down the 10-footer on the next trip down the floor.
1.37: 24-10 start by Spain … can they give up that many points? WHOA — technical given to Lithuania’s assistant coach, who is pushed back into his seat by head coach Kemzura. And the cry (in English) from the crowd is “F*** YOU, REFEREE!” 28-10 after Navarro hits both FTs.
1.01: Valanciunas again in the lane for two over Marc. He’s tied for the high Lithuanian scorer now with 5.
0.00: Navarro runs out the clock on the last possession, but can’t convert. Spain up, 31-12, and this is quite a challenge for Lithuania to come back to, home court or no. Spain is 9-of-18 plus 9-of-10 from the ‘stripe. Lithuania just 5-of-12 and 1-of-2, respectively. Navarro has 15 already.
Second quarter. 9.44: Lithuania changing it up a bit, with Pocius, Jasaitis, Valanciunas, Lavrinovic and Jasikevicius in …
9.15: Marc open on the wing? Hits!
8.59: And now Felipe Reyes on the breakaway following the Llull steal. 35-12 to Spain.
8.26: Another different look from Lithuania, with Kaukenas, Kalnietis, Pocius, Songaila and Valanciunas. No matter, it’s Pau with the layup after another breakaway plus the and-one. Spain up a big 37-12.
8.14: Pau’s FT makes it a 10-0 run, following a first-quarter run of 16-0. This is why they’re the champs.
7.53: Valanciunas fakes Marc, goes over Reyes, hits a two. 38-16 to Spain.
6.54: Nice ball movement — Rubio to Reyes to Llull for the three!
6.06: Valanciunas about to go strong to the hole, but Fernandez is no dummy, pinning his hands to disallow the easy two (and the crowd explosion, no doubt). Valanciunas hits ’em both. Spain up, 43-21.
5.48: Rubio is looking like his old Nashian self, flying across the floor and wildly dishing to the open man; this time, it’s Calderon for three. 46-21 to Spain.
5.08: And Calderon for another three! He’s got 12. Who had him outscoring both Gasols in this game combined? (He’s winning, 12-11.)
2.52: Spain just has too many weapons … Lithuania can’t be everywhere. When Rudy’s routinely hitting 20-plus-foot jumpers on top of everything else, well … Spain up, 54-28.
2.08: Pau to Ibaka, exploiting the major height difference over their defenders. Spain’s doubled ’em up, 56-28.
1.40: Pocius gives up the body to draw the hard foul off Ibaka after the driving two. Sinks it. 56-31.
1.14: Jankunas wakes up, gets the roll and the and-one. BiE is reminded that, last year, Litihuania was down by 18 to Spain with about seven minutes left and they came back. Of course, that Team Lithuania had Linas Kleiza…
0.42: Javtokas brinig it to within 23.
0.27: Now Pau for three? Sick.
0.00: Spain up, 62-36. Who’d’a thunk? Keys: Spain has just two turnovers against Lietuva’s nine (though the homers have gone six minutes without a TO at all) and is winning in points off turnovers, 17-3. Spain has 16 assists against Lithuania’s nine. Fast break points, 10-0! Zero steals for Lithuania … that can’t happen if Spain’s shooting 57%
Third quarter. Five quick points by Spain increase the lead even further at 67-36.
8.47: Just the third TO by Spain gives the ball back to the homers, but even the Lithuanian crowd sounds tired. Pocius’ jumper may help there, at least psychologically. 67-39, Spain.
7.17: Still no answers for Marc Gasol, who throws in a reverse layup.
7.08: Lithuania is coming out hot, with three of the last three, but Pau answers again. 72-44.
6.20: And Navarro open in the corner again? Folks, he’s got 18…
5.51: Both sides are 4-of-6 to start the quarter.
5.19: Pau heating up, with seven in the first five minutes of this Q already…Spain, 74-46, matching the biggest lead of the game for them.
4.35: Kaukenas with an enlivening three (maybe?) … 74-49.
4.06: Finally, some fast break points for Lietuva … it’s Kaukenas again, for his fourth point in the quarter.
4.02: Bad foul by Saras on Rubio as the speedier guy brings the ball up.
3.22: First break for Lithuania tonight? Ibaka misses the first FT. But Spain still way up, 75-53.
2.59: Jasaitis for two. “Just” 20 points away now…75-55 to Spain.
2.13: Llull stops the mini-run with a breakaway and gets fouled. Hits both FTs for a 22-point advantage.
1.38: Thus far, Lithuania has shaved six points off the lead, thanks to 9-of-13 shooting, but geez, they need a lot more. Navarro hits 1 of 2 FTs. 78-57 to Spain.
0.23: No way, Navarro in that same corner spot *again* for three. 81-59. Spain now at 22 assists and just four TOs. If there’s better basketball than this, BiE can’t readily think of it.
Fourth quarter. Ladies and gentlemen, Arvydas Sabonis has left the building. Really.
9.01: Jasaitis brings it back to 20 and this crowd just won’t give up on the miracle.
7.40: Another unfortunate turnover for Lithuania brings the ball back Spain’s way.
7.16: Kalnietis answers in the lane. 83-64 to Spain.
6.51: Ibaka gets the ball tipped to him and he jams it down. 85-64 to Spain. Sergio Scariolo is still taking the Lithuanian threat seriously, only now subbing out Pau for … Marc, of course.
6.06: Marc and Lavrinovic mix it up going for the rebound and the ref calls them together for an odd double warning. Spain, 87-64.
3.16: Valanciunas has been a rare bright spot for Lithuania tonight, now with 11 points (but four PFs) to his credit and generally great play against the Gasol Brothers. Could this be his breakout game? Spain up, 89-68. Lithuania’s still trying to make things respectable, but not even this is going to plan.
2.04: With the lead reduced to 19, Spain calls timeout. Ye gods, this better be about substitution.
1.49: Lavrinovic for two and he ominously hobbles a bit up the floor. Spain, 89-73.
1.25: Ibaka with another tip-in. 91-73.
0.00: Okay, Spain will unabashedly be considered favorites in this thing now…final score, 91-79.