The Raptors’ Linas Kleiza continued his recent strong play by leading Lithuania in scoring, but it wasn’t nearly enough to offset Argentina’s scoring prowess. The Sudamericanos won every quarter on their way to a 102-79 victory. Argentina’s NBAers came to play, as their scoring was led by Rocket Luis Scola’s 32 points, while the Spurs’ multi-ringed Manu Ginobli added 21 and former Rap Carlos Delfino 20.
Kleiza needed only 11 shots to pour in 20 points, as he drained 6 of 10 from inside the arc, 5 of 6 foul shots, and the only 3-ball he tried. He also contributed 7 boards in his 28 minutes of efficient play. The other Rap, Jonas Valanciunas, did not begin his tournament with a bang, scoring but 6 points. His shooting was fine, as he missed only one field goal, but he never reached the foul line. He pulled down 5 boards in his 14+ minutes of play (the least of any Lithuanian starter), and didn’t record a blocked shot.
Argentina’s plan to bomb away from distance worked well, as they took 27 3-balls, hitting 11. Delfino did the most damage, sinking 6 long balls in 9 tries. Lithuania only nailed 3 threes, so the Argentines were +24 from beyond the arc, and their margin of victory was 23. If the Lithuanians are going to make some noise in this tournament, their guards will need to get in shooters’ faces much more effectively than they did in this game.
Lithuania’s next game is a must-win against Nigeria on Tuesday morning at 9:30 ET. The Nigerians are here to learn and build, and I think the Lithuanians will take out their disappointment in starting their Olympics so poorly by hammering the men from west Africa. Jonas V will probably get another chance to start, but will need to start exhibiting his mobility and determination in order to keep the starting centre spot.
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.