Congratulations from BallinEurope go out this morning to Team Lithuania, who took the FIBA U19 World Championship title with an 85-67 victory over Serbia last night. Jonas Valanciunas again contributed a dominant performance with 36 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and three steals; to no one’s surprise, the Lithuanian was named tournament MVP. (Excited yet, Raptors fans…?)
And the podium was all European this year, with Russia upending Argentina for third place in the tournament. Dmitry Kulagin of BC Nizhny Novgorod went for 24 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 38 minutes of play; Kulagin’s three-pointer at the first-half buzzer may have been crucial to the result, reducing the Russian deficit to five points.
Video and official FIBA writeup follow the break.
(FIBA.com) – An 18-3 scoring rout led by tournament MVP Jonas Valanciunas and Vytenis Cizauskas at the end of third quarter killed a courageous Serbian effort and handed the FIBA U19 World Championship gold medal to Lithuania.
With the score tied at 43 and Serbia having momentum in their favor – even without star point guard Aleksandr Cvetkovic who was spending a long period of the game watching from the bench – Lithuania’s star pairing of Valanciunas and Cizauskas stepped up to the fore, claiming 11 points between them on an 18-3 scoring run that would switch a soldout Arena Riga into party mode with a quarter still to play.
At the beginning of the game, Lithuania would again take their time to settle in, with Serbia’s Djordje Drenovac beginning the scoring from the free-throw line. But when Valanciunas claimed his first basket of the night in the third minute of play, there would be no stopping Lithuania as the center combined with Edgaras Ulanovas to score 13 of their team’s 18 first-quarter points to have them ahead by five at the break.
Frustration was becoming evident amongst both Serbian players and coaching staff early in the second quarter with a number of close calls working against them and with playmaker Cvetkovic finding himself on two fouls, his court time would be limited in the build up to halftime. But in his absence, Serbia stepped up with Bojac Vojusevic’s “and-one” bringing the score to within four points and forcing a Lithuanian side playing with a number of uncharacteristic errors to call a timeout three minutes from the half.
Although Valanciunas was still scoring, Serbia were limiting his rebounding opportunities and with the rest of the Lithuanian team going just 1-of-9 from beyond the arc for the first half, Lithuanian Coach Kazys Maksvytis had plenty to address in one minute.
Straight after the timeout, Drenovac hit from outside the perimeter to bring the score within a point but with Cizauskas hitting his jump shot on the buzzer, Lithuania would find themselves up by seven at the half.
Similar to the first quarter, Lithuania took their time to settle back into the game in the second half, as Vujosevic silenced 9000 frenzied Lithuanian fans with his jump shot tying the game at 44 after five minutes of play. But as any good leaders should, Valanciunas and Cizauskas stepped up to the mark, with their inspired 18-3 run in the final five minutes of the quarter ultimately sealing Serbia’s fate.
As any good team should, Serbia refused to give up the fight in the final ten minutes but the 15-point deficit would simply prove too big to overcome as Valanciunas sailed to a game-high 36 points, leading his team to a deserved 18-point victory.