BEIJING (Olympics) – Lithuania booked their fifth Olympic semi-final appearance in a row by pulling away from Yao Ming and China for a 94-68 triumph on Wednesday.
Sarunas Jasikevius made five of six shots from long range and led all scorers with 23 points as the Lithuanians set up a last-four clash with world champions Spain.
Lithuania appear to be in excellent form heading into the last four.
“When we are concentrated, we’re a good team,” Jasikevicius said. “When we’re not concentrated, we can play as we did in the (106-75) defeat to Australia.”
Have they ever played as well as they have played in five of the six games here in wins over Argentina, Iran, Russia, Croatia and China?
“I don’t think this is the form of our life,” Jasikevicius said.
“We were strong in Sydney, strong in Athens. Everything is being decided in 40 minutes. We’re lucky. Sometimes in other sports, four years work is decided in 10 seconds.”
Lithuania broke open a close game midway through the second quarter with a 14-6 run and went to the changing rooms with a 41-30 advantage.
They opened up a 70-53 lead by the end of the third quarter and piled on the misery over the final 10 minutes.
Jasikevicius had 12 points and Ramunas Siskauskas 11 of his 15 in the first half.
China’s giant center Yao Ming had 19 points and seven boards, but had to work for everything he got against the Lithuanians.
“In my opinion, our key to winning was strong defense,” Lithuania coach Ramunas Butautus said.
“We double-teamed him, had a player in front and back.”
Yi Jianlian also scored 11 and pulled down nine rebounds for the Chinese.
Lithuania made 13 of 31 (42%) shots from long range compared to four of 21 (19%) for China.
“It always helps when the three-pointers are going in,” Jasikevicius said.
The Lithuanians were also hard to stop inside the arc where they made 21 of 32 (66%). China were 16 of 34 (47%) from two-point range.