Lithuanian head coach K. Kemzura has been roundly trounced in the press for his impatience (14 minutes’ PT? – come now!) with the Raps’ Jonas Valanciunas in the game against Argentina. Will Coach give JV some much needed burn against Nigeria? Watch for the big centre to double his minutes against the Africans in order to gain confidence, his own and his coach’s. Jonas needs to score, both in isolation and put-backs, and establish his defensive presence with some blocked shots.
Linas Kleiza opened with a fine game in a losing cause, and will continue his excellent recent play in this match. If Coach is sharp, he will limit Linas’ minutes to the time necessary to ensure the win. Don’t be surprised if Linas plays only 20 minutes, with Jonas getting 30 or more, even if Lithuania has a comfortable lead.
The Nigerians have one NBA player, Al-Farouq Aminu, who is hanging on to his big league status with his fingernails. Ike Diogu was drafted 9th overall in 2005 by Golden State, but never reached the heights expected of him, bounced around a number of teams, and is now playing in China. Those two are the best of the Nigerians, who will be hard pressed on both ends of the floor against Lithuania’s veteran team.
Point differential is important as a tie-breaker in this tournament, so the Lithuanians may run up the score. Watch for them to break the century mark en route to a 30 point win, with Linas & Jonas scoring more than 40 by themselves.
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.