Are you interested in reading about how Jonas is getting shorted on touches and playing time? Well, you’ve come to the right place. It’s the latest instalment of “JonasBasket 2013″. Enjoy!

PRE GAME

Lithuania, good. Belgium, bad. You’ll see in a second.

GAME RECAP

Belgium was no match for the mighty Baltic Giants (#raptorsnamechange). The two teams both struggled to score at the beginning, but Lithuania eventually solved Belgium’s defense and poured it on. They rushed out to a 23 point  at the half and extended it to 30+ in the third before subbing in their bench players and riding out the remaining garbage minutes. They won the game 86-67 and have all but assured their spot in the next round of Eurobasket 2013. You can look over the highlights here, and check out the score development graph below.

score chart

JONAS VALANCIUNAS – Game Recap

Jonas was omitted from the starting line-up for the second straight game, despite putting in a solid performance in their previous match against France. He was brought in at around the 3 minute mark in the first quarter and immediately had an impact. He knocked a ball off the rim on a free throw (ball is live over the cylinder in international play) which took a sure point away from Belgium. He received a nice pass in the post and was absolutely HAMMERED by a Belgian big (get out your pitchforks), but he calmly shook off the pain and sunk both free throws.  He had to come out of the game because the hit opened a gash in Jonas’s head (he’s fine) and was kept out of the game until the bleeding stopped. Once it did, Jonas came back with a vengeance.

Valanciunas returned at the 8 minute mark and the Belgians promptly threw a 2/3 zone at the Lithuanians (to make up for their lack of size in the front-court). Immediately, Jonas posted up in the middle of the paint, just inside the free throw line and sunk a very nice jumphook. On the ensuing Belgian possession, a Belgian wing slashed to the basket only to have his shot denied by Valanciunas.

He received another entry pass in the paint with his back to the basket. He settled himself, turned, leaned into his defender and sunk a mini fall-away jumpshot. On a separate possession, he powered his way to the rim, caught a nice pass from Kalientis (the best Lithuanian wing) and hit a layup. He threw in two free throws (after grabbing an offensive rebound over 3 Belgian defenders) and hit another patented sweeping hook shot from ~8 feet out.

Jonas didn’t really play very much in the second half. The game had been decided and it was probably for the best that Jonas didn’t exert himself in some meaningless minutes. He finished the game with 12 points on 4/5 shooting from the floor and 4/4 from the line. He grabbed 10 rebounds (3/7), blocked a shot and drew four fouls. He committed three himself and committed a turnover (offensive foul jostling for post-position) in just under 9 minutes of play.

OFFENSE

Valanciunas showed some flashes of brilliance in today’s game. He showed great poise in the paint and pulled out his full arsenal of post-moves. He sunk a jumphook, landed a sweeping hook shot and threw in a fall-away jumper to boot. He was no match for the Belgian defense and for the first time in the tournament, he was able to score over double teams and zone defense. He also managed to sink all of his free throws (4 swishes). It was a good day for Jonas.

The only caveat I’d add is that the Belgians really had nobody to guard him. Their bigs were mostly ground-bound and lacked the size to truly challenge Jonas’ shots. Nevertheless, 12 points on 5 shots is very impressive.

DEFENSE

The Belgian bigs didn’t really attack inside. They preferred to stand near the elbows and set screens. This allowed Jonas to confidently leave his man to protect the rim. He blocked a shot and by my count, deterred two more. He wasn’t really challenged much otherwise, so there’s not much else to say. This was the Belgians’ shot chart for when Jonas was on the floor (Belgian attempts on the right).

Belgium misses JV

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES

  • This was Lithuania’s best game by far. Yes, the Belgians were a relatively easy opponent, but the Baltic Giants had everything working. They scored from inside, scored from outside, scored in the midrange and scored in transition. Belgium simply couldn’t contain them.
  • Motiejunas came to life. He had himself a great game (13 points, 4 rebounds). He also threw down this vicious dunk after going coast-to-coast.
  • I really don’t know why the Lithuanian head coach keeps benching Jonas. The progression of the past few games has been; Lithuania struggles to score, Jonas comes off the bench, and Lithuania’s screen-and-roll offense comes to life and they take the lead. Just start him!
  • Just for fun, let’s extrapolate Jonas’ numbers to if he played 30 minutes per game: 14.5 ppg, 1.8 bpg, 11 rpg on 73.3 FG%. JUST PLAY HIM!
  • The play-by-play man used the line “open like church on SUNDAY!” again. That’s fun. He also used the line “he proved me to be a PROPHET!!!”.
  • I really wouldn’t be surprised if some NBA team signs Monatas Kalientis someday (maybe someone has and they’ve stashed him). He is a very good player; he can pass, shoot from range and create off the dribble. FWIW, he runs a sweet pick and roll with Jonas Valanciunas (get on the phone, Ujiri!).
  • Lithuania’s next game will be played at 11:45 AM on Sunday (vs Ukraine). Won’t be able to cover that one so there will be no recap for the game. You can find recaps and scores on euroleague2013.org. You can find the game on ESPN3 or whatever crummy illegal stream you find.

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