|13||C. FRANK||Did not play|
|14||M. ANDRIUSKEVICIUS||Did not play|
|Min||Minutes played||Tot||Total rebounds||BS||Block Shots|
|%||Shooting percentage||PF||Personal fouls||*||Starters|
IZMIR (FIBA World Championship) - A stunning 13-2 run to start the second quarter and back-breaking shooting at key moments from Linas Kleiza has secured a hard fought 92-79 win for Lithuania over New Zealand in the opening game of Group D in Izmir.
Kleiza was masterful with 27 points and 8 rebounds for Lithuania, while Paulius Jankunas (15 points) and veteran Jonas Maciulis (14 points) were also prominent.
The star of the show was Kirk Penney, who scored 37 points on 16/20 free throw shooting despite receiving constant attention from the Lithuanian defence. Mika Vukona was excellent with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists, while Thomas Abercrombie pulled in 11 rebounds to go with 7 points for New Zealand.
The first quarter was a high quality affair, with both teams executing their offence to perfection – New Zealand through ball movement to free up shooters, Lithuania through a varied series of screens to get post ups and penetration – with the Europeans taking a 25-24 lead to the break.
Superstars Penney and Kleiza scored the first baskets of the game for their teams, and that would set the trend for the game. Penney in particular was superb, racking up 10 points for the quarter and 17 for the half.
The second quarter saw Lithuania step up their defensive physicality, forcing numerous Tall Blacks turnovers as they peeled of their match winning run behind the shooting of Kleiza, to lead 50-34 at half time.
The third quarter was New Zealand’s. After trailing 20-12 in the rebound count the Tall Blacks pulled in 12 boards to 4 for the quarter, closing within single figures on a number of occasions behind their impressive ball movement and Penney’s penetration.
But the last five points of the third quarter gave Lithuania a 74-61 lead, and while the Tall Blacks challenged repeatedly throughout the last quarter, they could not bridge the margin.
Afterwords Lithuania's Martynas Pocius visited with FIBATV.Com.
Lithuania faces Canada tomorrow at 4pm, while New Zealand face defending champions Spain at 9pm as Group D continues.
New Zealand quotes:
Thomas Abercrombie: It was a tough game tonight. Especially in the opening period, we had some problems in defense. At the beginning we seemed like we were giving up but then we tried to find our rhythm. We did our best but did not get the result.
Nenad Vucinic: Unfortunately we did not perform very well. We had problems at both the offensive and defensive ends. In spite of the time-outs that we took in the second quarter we could not perform well. I would like to congratulate our opponent. We tried to play according to our game plan but we could not.
Mantas Kalnietis: It was a hard game for us too. We saw our weaknesses and we know that we have couple of points which we should improve on. I believe that we will be more impactful in following games.
Kestutis Kemzura: We played against a great team both as the players and coaching. We were concerned about Kirk Penney, we matched him with our tallest player but he really pushed us to hard situations. We could not stop Kirk when he got the ball in his hands. We have some problems about rebounding. We especially need to improve our three point shooting, rebounds and our free throw shooting percentages. Javtokas’ situation is not so serious, he will come back very soon.
IZMIR (FIBA World Championship) - A disciplined 24-13 final quarter and the brilliance of stalwart Fadi El Khatib have delivered an emotional 81-71 victory over Canada in Izmir, which they celebrated with their vocal fans.
For much of the game Canada looked the better team, but a stunning second half display by El Khatib (31 points, 8 rebounds) and strong support from point guard Rony Fahed (17 points) and Matt Freije (12 points, 4/7 three pointers) allowed Lebanon to record their come-from-behind victory.
For Canada, Joel Anthony was a force inside with 17 points and 6 rebounds, and received support from Andy Rautins (10 points), Denham Brown (13 points) and Levon Kendall (11 rebounds).
Crucially, Lebanon restricted Anthony and Rautins, who were dominant in the first half, to just two field goal attempts in the final quarter.
Both teams promised to play quick and in the first quarter they delivered, thrilling the large crowd in Izmir. Rautins nailed two big three pointers early, which were answered in kind by Lebanon big man Matt Freije.
Canada broke free after quarter time and consecutive Anthony baskets gave them a 30-25 lead. But Lebanon answered to draw even to set the trend for the next two quarters.
Canada started the third term with a 7-1 run, but Lebanon answered immediately through back-to-back threes from El Khatib and Fahed, who visited with FIBATV.Com after the game.
Canada then responded with two of their own to take a 52-44 lead with 4:45 to play, but El Khatib would not let his team lie down, scoring at will near the basket on his way to 16 points for the quarter to bring Lebanon within one.
The last quarter was all Lebanon, who executed in the half court and coolly converted important free throws, leaving Canada coach Leo Rautins to lament his team shooting 2/9 from the perimeter in the final term and a 26-11 foul count.
Lebanon faces France tomorrow at 6:30pm, while Canada will regroup to take on Lithuania at 4pm.
Ali Mamoud (Player) : We had prepared very well physically and psychologically. We concentrated on the game. All victories are important for us, there has been four years since our last good performance but every victory has a different importance for us.
Tab Baldwin (Coach): We are happy. People don’t expect anything from teams like Lebanon. Basketball is universal sport and there are important players all over the world. Canada was a hard team. Fadi El Khatib played very well in the World and Asia Championships, he believes in himself and he is playing very well.
We defeated France four years ago. There are so many injured players but they are one of the best teams in the world. We will play our best against France.
Leo Rautins (Coach): It was a hard game for us. There were differences between two teams. We made so many turnovers. Lebanon scored so many points from free-throws. But now we will focus on tomorrow’s game. Lithuania is a good team. We need to be more aggressive.