In a game that wasn’t nearly as one-sided as the final score suggests, Lithuania beat Tunisia 76-63 to advance to the quarterfinals at the 2012 London Olympics.
While the Lithuanians reached their desired destination, the route they took was a rocky one. They were dominated for much of the game, trailing by as much as 14 in the third quarter. Thanks to the heroics of Darius Songaila off the bench, though, they were able to charge back, taking their first lead of the night late in the third. After that, thee was no stopping the men in green, who outscored Tunisia 26-9 in the final period. Songaila poured in 13 points in just over 12 minutes, while Renaldas Seibutis chipped in 10 critical points, all of which came in the fourth quarter.
The Tunisians received an inspired effort from big man Salah Mejri, who put up 16 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks. He was unstoppable in the post during the first three quarters, finishing over the Lithuanian front line at will. Unfortunately, the 7’1″ center tired down the stretch, and he was ineffective during Tunisia’s nightmarish fourth quarter.
As the adopted Olympic team of Raptors Rapture, we’re happy to see the Lithuanians advance. It just would have been nice to see the two Toronto Raptors contribute. Jonas Valanciunas was effective in setting screens and grabbing rebounds, but his inexperience was apparent as he racked up 3 turnovers in limited minutes. More surprisingly, Linas Kleiza—who was averaging 18 points per game coming in—mustered just 4 points on 2-9 shooting. He missed each of his 3 trey-balls, and he failed to reach the free-throw line, a testament to his lack of aggression.
Despite the Raps’ struggles, Lithuania was able to pull off the comeback. Thanks to Songaila, Seibutis and Sarunas Jasikevicius, Lithuania will advance to Wednesday’s quarterfinals, where they will likely take on Russia.
Austin Green is the editor of 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.