Ed’s Note: This is a guest post by William Lou.

The Latvians entered the game 2-0 (defeating Bosnia and Herzegovnia, and Montenegro). They averaged 79.5 points per game and were first in Eurobasket 2013 in three pointers made per game.

Jonas Valanciunas gets the start at centre following his stellar performance against Macedonia. He was brought off the bench against Macedonia, but he clearly played his way back into the starting lineup.


1st Quarter:
The Latvians opened the match with a long jumper (was a three-pointer, but foot was on the line). They followed it up by showing zone on their first defensive possession, which the Lithuanians had not faced thus far in this tournament.

Lithuania looked to Jonas Valanciunas to beat the zone. He caught the ball on a post up on the left block (his preferred spot), and was immediately double-teamed by his man and a help defender. Jonas was able to split the double with his strength. He drew a foul and sunk both free throws. Jonas would go on to tax the Latvian bigs who had neither the strength, nor the length to contain Jonas on offense.

Jonas posted up for a second time, but was looked off my Linas Kleiza (yet another reason that amnestying Kleiza made sense). On his third post-up, JV caught the ball in the lane, and was met by two defenders. He gathered himself and rose straight up, and shot a strange two-handed dunk-layup shot which managed to go down. He also dunked off a nice pick-and-roll [16 second mark].

He checked out at around the three-minute mark, visibly gassed, only to be reinserted two minutes later. He drew yet another foul on a battle for a defensive rebound which put Latvia in the penalty. Jonas would knock down both free throws. He ended the first with 8 points scored, and the Latvians shot a grand total of one shot from within the paint. I wish there were publicly available shot-charts for this game, because it would be hilarious.

2nd Quarter
Jonas started the second quarter for the “Baltic Giants” (nickname for Lithuanians; wasn’t that an entry for the Raptors rebrand?). He posted up on the left block but travelled when he went to his shot fake. He grabbed two more rebounds, drew a foul and checked out at the 7 minute mark. The Lithuanians went on a run because the Latvian defense fell apart and started allowing open threes and layups.

Valanciunas checked back in at the 4 minute mark. He produced a tremendous block on a layup attempt off a pick and roll. He rotated quickly and met his man at the apex of his shot. On the offensive end, the Lithuanians went to a 2/5 pick and roll which resulted in two free throws for JV (missed both). The Lithuanians rode the momentum into halftime leading 39-31.

3rd Quarter
Latvia started the second half with a small-ball lineup of 4 wings and one big. They also diversified their offense by running more pick and rolls. Jonas was beat a few times, but he did recover nicely on one occasion to block the ball handler on a layup attempt.

Jonas was subbed out at the 7 minute mark and the Latvians proceeded to parade to the basket. They rode the momentum and tied the game at one point. Their shot attempts came mostly at the rim off pick-and-rolls with the bigs finishing some tough baskets at the rim.

4th Quarter
Valanciunas was visibly tired to begin the fourth, and his fatigue translated into poor play. He committed two silly fouls on defense (once on a rebound, another on post defense) and lacked the lift to sink a short jumper near the baseline. He was taken out at around the 7 minute mark but was reinserted into the lineup two minutes later to close out the game. He grabbed some few key rebounds, scored on a nice putback and the Lithuanians improved to 2-1 on the tournament with a 67-59 win over the Latvians.

Jonas finished the game with 11 points on 3/5 shooting and 5/8 from the line. He led all players with 10 rebounds (2/8) and a block in 24 minutes. He committed 3 fouls and 2 turnovers. He drew a ridiculous 6 fouls against the Latvians.

Jonas saw the largest share of the offense in this game. In previous games against Serbia and Macedonia, Jonas was looked off on many pick and rolls and post-ups. Today, he was frequently featured in the post (mostly from the left block) and he was money in the pick and roll.

Valanciunas continued to struggle with his jumpshot. He missed a short jumper from the baseline (although it was late in the 4th and this was the third game of a back-to-back-to-back). He was also given a wide open jumper from the free-throw line, but he tried instead to drive to the rack against 2 defenders. This resulted in a turnover.

However, he did continue to show a good touch around the basket. The Lithuanian head coach was about to sub out Jonas for offense-defense purposes (Jonas providing the defensive side of the platoon), but Jonas showed enough with his offensive rebounding and his defense to justify his time on the floor.

Latvia’s offense featured a lot of small-ball which forced Jonas to move away from the basket. He did an admirable job closing out on three-point attempts. By my count, he was forced to close out on three occasions; his man drove by him once and missed twice, .

Jonas was solid once again in the post. He blocked two shots (although one was uncredited for some reason) and heavily dissuaded the Latvians from shooting at the rim. The Latvians took very few (like, less than 5) shots in the paint when he was

The two-man combo of Motiejunas and Valanciunas is money. I sincerely hope that Ujiri is constantly working the phones to swing a trade for Motiejunas (like this trade, for example, only with Motiejunas instead of Jones). They form an excellent inside-out duo and deserve more minutes.

Valanciunas continues to wreck havoc on opposing front line. He drew a team leading 6 fouls against the Latvians who seemed to perpetually be in the penalty.

Finally, Jonas showed a little better sense of timing on pick and rolls. He was still a little jumpy and out of position, but he showed great timing with Kalientis (#5, Lithuania’s best wing player and leading scorer).

Lithuania’s next game is this Sunday at 3 pm. They will play Montenegro (1-2). You can find the match on ESPN3 and you definitely cannot find an illegal stream on atdhe.eu. It’s not possible. Nope.

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  • One relaxed guy

    The court is wider in NBA, therefore big players have more space and freedom inside and that is why big guys face difficulties playing under FIBA rules. Same thing is with Montenegro’s Vucevic who had a good season in NBA but currently is seriously struggling in Eurobasket. NBA game is tougher, with less offensive calls. In Eurobasket JV gets called for illegal screen every game (or at least every) so far. That is one big BS if you watch NBA basketball all season and then turn in to see some overseas games..He’s like fish in the water under NBA rules and that is the most important thing considering the fact, that Eurobasket goes only for less than three weeks. And yeah, my favorite line up in this Lithuania roster is with JV and Motiejunas (D-Mo) inside. Both of them are big, pretty fast and have a good skill set inside. D-Mo plays stretch 4 and than JV can get more space inside and do his thing – score. However it’s not easy to say whether D-Mo would be useful as an NBA player or not. He struggled with D and rebounding last season. On the other hand, like JV, D-Mo got heavier and stronger during summer so this can help his performance. And he’s not that expensive (1 or 1,1 mil per) for a 7 footer who can run the floor fast, stretch the floor (you guys heard that one before, ayh?), can pass the ball well (best moment – pass to Asik behind his back), can shoot the three (although, needs to improve). As an attacking option, he could be a very nice addition to the roster, but Raptors apparently are going another direction.

  • mountio

    We can have all the caveats we want (its a different game, its against men, hes the 3rd option when he should be the 1st), but if we think this guy is going to be a force in the NBA this year, shouldnt he be a little more dominant in these games?
    I would describe these performances as fine .. but certainly dont seem like they are coming from a guy who is going to lite up the NBA for something like 16 and 8 this year.

    • One relaxed guy

      Last season Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic) averaged 13,1 ppg, 11,9 rpg and 1,9 apg. After three games in Eurobasket his stats are: 6,3 ppg, 3 rpg and 0,3 apg. Jan Vesely (Washington Wizards) last year in NBA averaged 2,5 ppg, 2,4 rpg and 0,5 apg. After three games in Eurobasket he averages 15,7 ppg, 11,7 rpg and 1,0 apg. Get what I’m trying to say here? Sure, the minutes are different, but I think there is enough proof to say this for a fact (and not only relying on this years FIBA tournament) that some players play better under NBA rather than FIBA rules. Most of the time it’s the other way – players who play very well in Europe don’t perform that good in NBA (Mirza Teletovic, Kleiza and ect). I think that some fans are way too negative and pesimistic towards JV and his improvement. Most of the fans are way too optimistic, talking about stuff like 16 ppg and 9-10 rpg. I believe that he will be better and continue to go up but not that drastically.

      • DDayLewis

        His per 36 minute average was 13.5 and 9.

    • DDayLewis

      He’s doing pretty well for the most part. It’s not just about his boxscore stuff. He’s their best defender and under-utilized on offense. He’s also drawing a lot of fouls on the opponents.