View Full Version : Lithuania defeats US, Jasikevicius 28 pts

08-22-2004, 04:29 AM
Summary from USA Basketball, so not a lot of bashing like you'd see in a media article


Lithuania's Sarunas Jasikevicius missed what would have been a game winning three against the U.S. in the 2000 Olympic semifinal. Four years later the Lithuanian guard shoved a dagger in the U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball Team's heart Saturday night, scoring 12 of his game high 28 points in a span of 1:51 of the game's final 2:47 to lead Lithuania to a 94-90 come from behind victory. The win leaves Lithuania a perfect 4-0 and drops the USA to 2-2.

Preliminary group play concludes Monday when the U.S. meets 0-4 Angola, 88-56 losers to Greece Saturday night.

With the day's other results in, despite the loss, the USA is still assured of moving on to the medal round quarterfinals which will be played Thursday, Aug. 26. The top four teams from each of the two preliminary round groups move on to the quarterfinals. Each preliminary round group's No. 1 seed plays the opposite group's No. 4 seed, and each group's No. 2 seed will play the other group's No. 3 seed. A USA win over Angola will earn the U.S. the No. 3 seed from Group B. Winners from the quarterfinals games advance to the Aug. 27 medal semifinal contests, and the final games will be held Aug. 28.

"I'm disappointed to say the least. But I think we're getting better," said Larry Brown, USA head coach. "The end result is we gave up over 90 points. We can't have a game like that defensively and expect to win against a quality team."

"I believe we controlled the game for 98 percent of it," said Jefferson. "Down the stretch we had some turnovers, jumping in the air to make passes, some calls that we didn't feel went our way, about five or six of them in a row down the court. Lithuania did a great job of capitalizing, knocking down free throws, hitting some big shots. I think we let the referees and that minute stretch where they got, it felt like, every single call, get in the way of our playing. And we can't do that."

Richard Jefferson (New Jersey Nets) made his first 3-pointer of the Olympics with 3:23 to play in the fourth period to help the Americans move ahead 84-79. Lithuania's Sailius Strombergas, who made six consecutive free throws between from 4:11 to 3:16, sank a pair of charity tries with 3:16 to play the reduce the gap to 84-81.

Following a U.S. turnover, Jasikevicius was able to hit an amazing three and draw the foul, and after completing the four-point play, Lithuania was up by a single point, 85-84 with 2:47 left.

Just 14 seconds later Jasikevicius nailed another three to push the lead to 88-84.

Jefferson countered with 1:50 to go with a 3-pointer to pull the U.S. back within one, 88-87,however, Jasikevicius came back down and hit his third straight 3-pointer with 1:38 left on the clock to help Lithuania to a 91-87 advantage. After a U.S. miss on the other end, Jasikevicius was fouled and after making both free throws, Lithuania owned a 93-87 lead with 56.1 seconds remaining.

Jefferson kept the U.S. hopes alive with his third 3-pointer to make it 93-90 with 45 clicks left on the clock.

Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat) gave the U.S. additional hope when he came up with a steal with 26 seconds to play, but the U.S. missed a game-tying three, and after Lithuania secured the rebound the U.S. was forced to foul with 5.1 seconds left. Ramunas Siskauskas missed his first free throw, but made his second to ice the 94-90 victory.

Several statistics from the fourth quarter tell the tale of the game. Lithuania made 14-of-15 free throws in the final 10 minutes, as compared to the U.S. making one of its two free throw tries. Lithuania shot 3-of-6 from 3-point, while the USA was 4-for-9, and finally, Lithuania made 5-of-9 (55.5 percent) shots overall in the final stanza, while the U.S. was 8-of-19 (42.1 percent).

"It was a very tough game. I thought they played very well. They shot the ball incredibly well. They got a couple calls down the stretch that didn't help us out but I have to give them a lot of credit because they played very well," said USA co-captain Tim Duncan.

After falling behind early, 15-10 and 17-13, the Americans closed the opening quarter with a 13-6 run to secure a 26-23 lead after one quarter.

The U.S. advantage would climb to as many as 10 points on three different occasions in the second quarter, the last time 39-29 with 4:52 to play before half following an Allen Iverson (Philadelphia 76ers) steal and layup.

But Lithuania continued to peck away and after Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Lakers) connected on a 3-pointer with 1.1 remaining before halftime, the U.S. had a 49-44 lead at the break.

Enjoying a 65-56 lead with 3:57 to play in the third quarter following a pair of free throws from Stephon Marbury (New York Knicks), Lithuania outscored the USA 11-4 to close the deficit to 69-67 after three quarters and set the stage for the exciting fourth quarter.

Jefferson, who had struggled with his shooting (4-26 FGs, 0-11 3pt FGs) during the USA's first three games, busted out of his slump accounting for 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting overall. Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs), posted his third double-double in four Olympic Games, compiling 16 points (6-7 FGs) and 12 rebounds, while Iverson and Odom each tallied 11 points, and Carlos Boozer (Utah Jazz) finished with 10 points.

Jasikevicius' 28 points led Lithuania's effort, while Strombergas finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Siskauskas was credited with 14 points.

In other action Saturday, Puerto Rico (3-1) handed Australia (1-3) an 87- 82 loss; Spain (4-0) remained undefeated after knocking off Serbia & Montenegro (1-3) 76- 68; Argentina (3-1) fought off New Zealand (1-3) 98-94; Italy (2-2) whipped China (1-3) 89-52, and host Greece (2-2) upended Angola (0-4) 88-56.


It was a good game, damn those Lithuania's could shoot the lights out. Sarunas Jasikevicius in particular was stellar, he single handedly turned the tides in the 4th with 3 straight 3s, one of which he was fouled pretty good on in his stroke.

Donnie Nelson is a assistant on the Lithuania bench, but was not present for the game because he did not want to be a part of defeating the US. Apparently after the 2000 game in which they nearly beat them he vowed not to coach another game against them.

I am not sure on who has the rights to Sarunas Jasikevicius, maybe no one, i'm not sure of his age or history, but if i heard it right his team has won the last 3 FIBA championships, and i'm pretty sure it was at least 2 different teams. He was impressive in the game, big time scorer, capable passer, looked like a world class point guard, odd that hes not in the NBA. Wishful thinking probably but maybe Donnie can bring him in the loop i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif

In the post game quotes Larry Brown insinuates Jasikevicius would not have great success in the NBA, however i'm not sure i agree with him.


Post Game Quotes (LONG)

Opening comments:

I'm disappointed to say the least. But I think we're getting better. We had kind of a meltdown in the fourth quarter. We were jumping up in the air, leaving our feet and trying to make some great plays when we had open shots all night just by making easy plays. Like Richard (Jefferson) said, we realized late in the game you can't let a couple of calls effect your game. You have to play through that and be near-perfect before that. They made shots, we didn't. They took care of the ball in the second half a lot better than they did in the first half. I look at the first half ... we're up five and they shoot close to 60 (percent), but they had a lot of turnovers. In the second half they did a much better job of taking care of the ball. Again, we missed 11 free throws, a lot of big ones in the fourth quarter. A lot of trips we didn't even get a shot. I don't think they're the best defensive team in the world. The end result is we gave up over 90 points. We can't have a game like that defensively and expect to win against a quality team.

Do you think Sarunas Jasikevicius is the best player in the world?
No. He's a great player, I'm not saying that to take that away. I think he's great international player. There are a lot things he can do internationally that he'd never get done in our league, with the way they set screens. The fact that you can hide a guy in the zone. But in international ball, he's as good as they get. He finds open people, he makes deep shots. I'm a fan of international ball, but there are a lot of guys who do well with their teams in this kind of environment that would struggle in our league. That might not be a bad thing for them. So much of our game is isolation, two-on-two ... unless you have great quickness and athletic abilities sometimes it's a struggle for you. But that takes nothing away from the ability he's shown in the last three or four years. He was great in 2000. Because he wouldn't be the best point guard in the NBA, to me, is not a negative.

You could meet up with Lithuania again, what are you going to do to defend that high pick and roll?
I hope we face them again. We've got Angola next and that's all I'm thinking about. But we've had troyuble all tournament with keeping people in front of us. It's been a huge problem. I think we've got to be a lot more aggressive, fighting to get over screens a lot better, communicate a lot better. We tried to change up a little bit with screen and rolls, but they made some big shots, some big plays. That's a big part of their offense. From the outset I've had a hard time .. Dwyane Wade is our best perimeter defender and he's so young. If you switch pick and rolls, which we were thinking about, Lamar (Odom) picks up his fourth foul. And then we got in a situation with a little on a big on the block, which is sometimes is difficult. But we're getting better. I think we have improved. We just have to work on it.

Do you feel you have enough shooters on the team?
I'm not getting into that. This is what we have. This is the team we have. I can't wish and hope for something we don't have. We have so many open shots, these guys just have to remember they make them in the NBA. A lot of guys are pressing. One of the best scorers in the league almost stuck it in the rim with about two minutes to go. Then we had an open three that almost broke the backboard. I like that because those guys care and are trying. We're getting great shots. I don't think it has anything to do with our shots, I think it has to do with our lack of defense and sometimes trying to make great plays instead of easy plays. When you give up 94 points in a 40-minute game, I think you're going to have a real problem beating a good team in this tournament.

Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury lead the team in field goals. Are they shooting too much or is it too difficult to get the ball into Tim Duncan the way they're closing down the passing lanes?
People are passing it in. They're not guarding us on the perimeter. Usually when someone on the other team shoots, at least we've got a hand up. We have so many open looks because they are packing it in. One thing that's hurt us is the fact that they're scoring and then we have to come down against a set defense, which really packs it in. If we can get it down in transition before their defense gets set, maybe we would have more success getting it inside. But I was begging Stephon to shoot it. I know he had great shots and some opportunities to really hurt them, but our first goal is to try to get it into Timmy's hands. I think everybody we're playing against understands that's our best option.

People have been saying that it would be a worthwhile idea to have the USA hire an international coach to help work on some of the things you struggle with in the international game. Do you agree with that?
I'm amazed by those comments because I don't think it has anything to do with the international style of play. It's a beautiful thing to watch. But it has to do with players being together and being exposed to this type of competition night in and night out and our guys playing like a different sport.

Nobody's going to come in here in 10 days and change the mentality of kids who are 21- and 20-years old. The way I look at it is if you can defend, you can defend. If we're having trouble with dribble penetration, no international coach is going to come in here and tell me he's going to teach dribble penetration in 10 days, how to stay in front of people. I haven't seen any international teams that do that well. That's our big problem. I don't think they have enough time to become shooting coaches.

I didn't see anybody asking us to have an international coach when we had Argentina by 37 points at halftime in Puerto Rico (at the 2003 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament). We had a team that I think had an opportunity to play 10 games in 11 days and got better. All of a sudden they're not here, we have a bunch of young kids and they're telling me we should have brought shooters. And now we're going bring in a coach. Pop (Gregg Popovich) has had as much international experience, everywhere in the world people are asking him to come and speak. I've been in the same kind of situation. Every practice I have, I've got international coaches all over the place and I pick their brains. But it isn't going to happen in 10 days, playing against the best teams in the world. I think we are improving. If there is someone out there who can teach shooting in a quick period of time, he can come to Detroit and take my job.


What is your reaction to the game?
It was tough. Our backs are against the wall now. We have to go out and win against Angola Monday and see how it turns out then.

What was the locker room like after the game?
Of course everybody is going to be down after a loss. Everybody hates losing. Everybody knows though that even though we lost this game, we have to put it behind us.

Do you feel better about your play?
We lost it as a team, so what I did out there didn't really count.

Were you surprised about your minutes tonight?
Well that was really up to the coach. He decided to put me in and gave me the opportunity to play. I stepped up to the challenge. I went in there to do what I had to do, but we lost the game, so whatever I did, doesn't even count.

What about the team's outside shooting?
We can't worry abut what's being said about not bringing any shooters here. We know that everyone on our team can hit shots.

Did Coach Brown show you some tape of the U.S.-Lithuania game fromSydney when you were in Jacksonville?
Yeah, but that was a different team then.

What was the message that he was giving you at that point?
That we can't come out here expecting anybody to give us anything out here. We have to work for what we want and we have to earn it.

Did you get a chance to go out to any events last night?
Yes, I went to boxing .

Number 13 (Sarunas Jasikevicius) on their team went off for28 points, can you talk about his play?
He did a hell of a job tonight shooting the basketball. He was on fire at the end. The 4-point play near the end, really killed us. They have a lot of guys who can make shots.


You might have played your best game tonight, but it wasn't enough in the 4th quarter?
I think we played well tonight. We grew up a lot. We did a lot of good things tonight and were up by 10-points. It just seemed like the fourth quarter, we let the referee take us out of our game and we lost our focus. Lithuania took advantage of it. They got the win.

Does this hurt?
It hurts a lot. I think we are better than that team. They are a very good team and they were undefeated. We have to take our hats off to them and now we have to focus on Angola. The biggest thing now is to win our next game and get to the medal round.

On the Lithuanian guard Sarunas Jasikevicius' play
It was crazy. They had three drives to the hoop and three fouls. Next thing you know, he was on fire and was really hot. We probably should have switched up our defense on the pick and role as it seemed like it was the same play over and over again. He was hitting open three's and then hit the four-point play.

It was an incredible moment for him. I think he played a terrific ballgame and the last stretch that he had was magnificent. He is a hell of a player.

The one thing we can take from this loss is that we know we're a lot better now than when we came here. I think we're improving. We are sharing the ball and we played a lot better defensively. We're going to continue to get better. I just wish we would've won this one.

If you make it to the medal round, it really all starts over again, doesn't it?
Yes, that's true. This is a big learning experience. We should've done some things differently tonight, but you have to give all the credit to them and at the same time…like you just said…we have to take care of Angola, we win our game on Monday and advance to the medal round and we look forward to getting there and bringing home a gold medal.

What was the mood like in the locker room?
Right now we are in a position where if we beat Angola we are in the medal round and move forward. It's obviously like a new Olympic tournament. When we get to the medal round it's like everyone is 0-0 and everyone moves forward.

We have to focus on our game against Angola and take the god things from this game. Obviously we were up by ten or twelve points three or four different times and they had some big plays. They had a four point play , a three pointer, six consecutive free throws. They took advantage of that an d we didn't get over the hump in the end.

How concerned are you about a second loss in the Olympics?
The thing about us is that we are better than that team . I think we showed everybody that we should have won that game tonight. Same token, my hats are off to them, they played a great game. They won the game, But we know we are a better team than that ands we should have won that game. We have to regroup and be ready for Angola and move forward.

On the team's shooting tonight:
Richard Jefferson had a hell of a game shooting the ball. And AI. A lot of guys made some big shots tonight.. Jump shots.

Are you discouraged by this at all?
No, I think we are in a good position. I mean, we play Angola on Monday , we win that game and go to the medal round. We start 0-0 then and I don't think there is a team out there that wants to see the U.S. in the medal round. I totally believe that. We're getting better really fast here. We should have won this game tonight. I think all you guys know that and we know that. But we didn't, so we are going to move forward.

Are you better than you were a week ago?
A lot. Our defense has gotten better , we know each other better, we know each other's games better. We know where we can put each other in successful situations and to be successful. We are sharing the ball better. We are just getting better as a team.

Have you guys had to kind of re-learn your game for this?
Absolutely. We had to de-program ourselves and re-learn certain things. We had to go back to college days, there are a lot of college rules as far as sagging in the paint , no 3 seconds on defense, a lot of different things. We definitely had to de-program ourselves and re-learn some things.


On tonight's game:
It was a very tough game. I thought they played very well. They shot the ball incredibly well. They got a couple calls down the stretch that didn't help us out but I have to give them a lot of credit because they played very well.

Do you think you played your best game until the last couple of minutes?
Yes, I thought we did. Defensively, we were pretty solid. It was down the stretch when they hit some shots and we gave them some easy points.

What does this do to your confidence?
Absolutely nothing. It helps our confidence because I think we played well. We've got to understand that we've got to control what we can control. We had an opportunity – up 10 points and we should have taken control of the game then and not let them back in.


I thought we had the game. Things went against us and we couldn't pull it out.

Was the four-point play the key?
It shouldn't have come down to that. We had multiple opportunities to put the game away when we got leads on them and we just didn't do it.

Can you comment on the play of the Lithuanian point guard (Jasikevicius)
I think he played well. Real well. He played the pick and roll as good as you can play it.

Can the USA get the ball into Duncan more?
We've got to play off of him. It makes it so much easier for us when we get the ball into him. We tried and when we got the ball into him, he would kick it out and we made some positive things happen. But, they played better than us in the overall game. They did everything it took to win the game.


Opening comments:
I believe we controlled the game for 98 percent of it. Down the stretch we had some turnovers, jumping in the air to make passes, some calls that we didn't feel went our way, about five or six of them in a row down the court. Lithuania did a great job of capitalizing, knocking down free throws, hitting some big shots. I think we left the referees and that minute stretch in a row where they got, it felt like, every single call, get in the way of our playing. And we can't do that.

In the other two losses (to Puerto Rico in the Olympics and Italy in exhibition play), it was ‘the Americans didn't do this, the Americans didn't hit their 3-pointers, whatever.' Tonight you guys played fantastic, but you still didn't win because the other team was so strong. Would you agree with that statement?
No. I would disagree. We did play well, this is our best game. We played as a team and we're getting better. That's the thing. From the first day to right now we're getting better. I don't think the team was so strong, but there was a stretch in there when they were getting calls, we let that bother us. I don't think it was the strength of their team. If we wouldn't have made some mistakes, we would have been alright. But again, you give them all the credit, they won the game. There's no doubt about that. But there was a stretch there in the fourth quarter where we didn't handle ourselves the way we should have.

On his 3-point shooting tonight (3-of-5) and whether he's going to build on it:
I wouldn't necessarily say build on it. The coaches had a lot of confidence in staying with me, believing in me and they kept talking me through it. I was taking great shots. I was taking open shots, they just weren't falling. I'm a basketball player and I don't care if it's the middle of the season, the middle of the playoffs, you're going to have a stretch where you can't make a couple of shots in a row. We're all such a talented team that if I'm not going to get in my rhythm, I'm going to take my open shots and if they're not falling it's time to pass it on to Steph (Marbury) or AI (Allen Iverson). In the second half of last game, Shawn Marion had a great first half, and the coaches decided to go with him and he continued to play well in the second half. I'm not on a team now where I can just jack it up to get in my rhythm, it's a matter of taking open shots.


What happened tonight?
They played good. Down the stretch we didn't execute the way we were supposed to.

How big was their four-point play? That seemed to turn the momentum
Yeah, that did. With one second left on the shot clock, when somebody makes a shot lie that, it's tough.

People have been talking for days about how many people they have who can shoot. What makes it so tough to get out on them all game?
I think when you are playing against a team like that, you have guys who can penetrate you pretty much have to suck in and then when they kick it out , everybody can pretty well shoot the ball.

Is this loss tougher than the loss to Puerto Rico, especially because you guys played pretty well tonight?
It was tough losing to them. I think in our situation if we continue to play as hard as we played we'll be okay. I missed a lot of shots, a lot of open shots. Guys who normally make shots, didn't. We didn't get some defensive stops that we should have.

Are you guys getting a little hesitant to take some shots. It looks like sometimes you are open in the lane, but appear to be a little hesitant.
I wouldn't say we're getting hesitant, we're just trying to continue to make plays for each other, just trying to grow as a team.


What happens now for you guys?
We have to go out there and get the next game. We have to go out there and get the next win. It's not out of our range, we still have to go out there and get a W.

Are you surprised you've lost twice here?
Definitely, but at the same time we've been playing some good teams out here. When they play you, they're going to play their best game against you. They've got everybody on their side. It's like it's us against everybody. We had a 10-point lead in the game and we didn't capitalize on that and that's what hurt us. We didn't make our free throws and a couple of other things. That was our main thing though, when we have a 10-point lead on any team in this tournament we have to capitalize on that. That's we have to do and we didn't do that.

Can you comment on the play of the Lithuanian point guard (Jasikevicius)
He can play ball. We have to go there and stop people. They had 94 points. Regardless if we're hitting shots or not, they had 94 points, that's not good. We have to play better defense. We played a good game, but we have to stop people.

He got hot. When somebody gets on fire like that, you have to make them do something different. We didn't do that though, we just kept letting him shoot. We have to do something to make him drive, make him drive.


What did you think about that foul near the end?
It was tough. It was a tough move, a tough shot, but if the ref called it, it must have been a foul.

Is this discouraging for you guys, especially because you did play very well?
We played really well. I don't think we could have played a lot better defense. We put them in the penalty and that takes away your aggressiveness a little bit and you start questioning your defense. But they fought hard, they made shots all game.

They have a couple of players who could play in the NBA. But the NBA is little bit more man-to-man defense.. They just sat back and made us make shots over the zone and gaveus problems. Timmy had 3 guys around him. I know I should have been a little more aggressive on the offensive end and I feel I let my team down a little bit today.

We just have to defend the ball a little better down the end of the game. It was a hard fought game at both ends. Nothing to be ashamed about. I tip my hat to Lithuania.


Did the four-point play take you out of it?
I don't think it was that play, I think it was the play before that. We were up six and they got four straight free throws. They went up there and hit them. I think that took the air out of us a little bit.

On how well other teams have shot against the USA:
We're the USA, we're who everyone wants to beat. Their offense is going to be a lot better. They play a lot better defensively and we try to weather the storm as much as possible.

Did you know how good Sarunas Jasikevicius was?
I didn't really know how good he really was. He made some big shots for them tonight. He had a heck of a game. He got hot, but I don't think that was the deciding factor in the game. The deciding factor was when we were up and they got three straight fouls called and went to the line and made their shots. That took the air out of us a little bit.

08-22-2004, 07:58 AM
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