Want some quick hits on how our hero performed in his latest
EuroJonasbasket game? Of course you do!
Due to a fortuitous last-minute appointment, my girlfriend departed the house just in-time for the start of the second quarter of Lithuania’s match against the Ukrainians. Granted, I was quite tired so I could only devote the faintest of attention to the match, but I did have some thoughts on the game.
Oh, and just a head’s up; Jonas had a really poor game. I’m warning you in advance.
It was a hotly contested see-saw battle as the Lithuanians and Ukrainians jostled for seeding (both had advanced to the next stage prior the match). The Ukrainians, led by coach Mike Fratello (otherwise known as Matt Devlin’s broadcast platoon-mate for the NBA playoffs) scratched and clawed against the superior Lithuanian squad, capitalizing on defensive miscues and transition buckets.
Defense really shone through in the first half for both teams. Actually, that’s much too nice. To put it bluntly, both teams really sucked on offense. Look at the shot chart below (Ukranian on left, Lithuania on right):
The match was close at the half (32-30 Lithuania), and both teams continued to stay within 5 points of each other until late in the fourth. Eventually, Lithuania’s quality shined through as they pulled away towards the end of the game (the dagger coming from a Kleiza three-pointer) and improved to 3-0 in the second round with a 70-63 victory over the upstart Ukie squad (much to the dismay of my Ukrainian-heritage’d ladyfriend, though not nearly as dismayed as my blogging in her presence, sorry!). The score development graph is below and you can find the game highlights here.
CONCERNING JONAS VALANCIUNAS – Game Recap
This was forgettable performance for our cherished big-man. For the third straight game, Valanciunas was brought off the bench and entered in the dying minutes of the first quarter. He scored on a nice roll to the rim and looked like his normal, active self.
And then it went south.
Jonas played until the 5:43 mark of the second quarter. During that time, he missed his only shot attempt and, well, did nothing else. He wasn’t very involved in the defense as the Ukrainians preferred to launch from deep (which is the MO for seemingly every European squad). He struggled to grab rebounds amiss the bulky Ukrainian bigs (one NBA notable; Viacheslav Kravtov of the Suns; apparently he’s a guy who exists). Jonas was also looked off on many occasions, and rightly so – he struggled to establish post-position on offense.
Surprisingly, he got the start for the second half but he continued to struggle. He was the forgotten man on both ends of the floor, as he wasn’t given a single touch on offense (save for the first play of the half; he was blocked). He did manage to get a stop against a Ukrainian post-up and grab an impressive offensive rebound over three defenders, but otherwise he was invisible. He was taken out at the 6 minute mark of the fourth and didn’t return to the game.
He finished the game with 2 points on 1/3 shooting from the floor, 2 rebounds (2/0), one turnover and +5 in ~12 minutes of play.
- Jonas was overpowered on a number of possessions. While he managed to get a stop in the post, his man (the Sun’s Krab-claw guy) was able t0 back him under the basket. He was also effectively boxed out/sealed on many occasions on offense. Normally, he’s able to beat his defender to the spot with his quickness, or power his way to where he wants to go with his strength, but he could do neither today.
- The Lithuanian head coach really doesn’t seem to like Valanciunas. He was the second big off the bench as Motiejunas jumped over him in the depth chart following his impressive performance against Belgium.
- Speaking of Motiejunas, he put in another great dunk. He’s going to be excellent alongside Dwight this season.
- The Lithuanian wings really carried their team to victory, which is a surprise because they’ve generally been pretty terrible. If the wings come alive, and the bigs continue to play well, this team has a legitimate shot at the Euroleague title.
- The play-by-play man pulled out the line “open like church on Sunday” for the third straight game. Somewhere in the Chicago suburbs, Chuck Swirsky has taken up the challenge and is hard-at-work in developing an even more ridiculous prose. “Get out the waffers and wine, father! This ball game is over!” Challenge accepted and won by Chuck. Don’t mess with the Swirsk.
- So, this is Mike Fratello’s new haircut, apparently. Wow:
- Lithuania finished 3-0 in the second round and will face the Italians on Thursday, September 19th at 3 PM. You can catch the game on ESPN3.