Maybe he didn’t get shorted for minutes in this game? Read on to find out. It’s the latest instalment of JonasBasket 2013!


Croatia rode an 8-game winning streak into this semi-final match-up. Their team boasted former and future NBA-ites Bojan Bogdanovic (rights owned by the Nets), Dario Saric (a projected lottery pick in next year’s draft) and Roko Ukic (former Raptors fan-favorite /sarcasm).


Linas Kleiza came out on fire (yes,you read that right). He knocked down a couple of jumpers, hit a few layups and even threw down a pretty sweet two-handed dunk. He finished the first quarter with 17 points, which helped Lithuania jump out to an early 24-17 lead over the Croatians. They lost some of the momentum in the second quarter as the Croatian bigs started to knock down some shots from mid-range. The score was 40-37 at the half in favour of the Baltic Giants.

Lithuania’s quality shined through in the third. The Croatians were stymied by Lithuania’s zone defense and struggled to score. They only mustered a grand total of 8 points in the quarter as Lithuania built their lead to as much as 18. They rode out the rest of the match and secured their spot in the finals with an 77-62 win.

The Lithuanian wings carried their team to victory. The combination of Kleiza (PF), Mantas Kalientis (PG) and Jonas Maciulis (SF) scored a combined 63 points.


Jonas was brought off the bench for the fourth straight game, which really wasn’t a surprise given how good Lithuania has looked in the last couple matches. He entered the game at the ~8 minute mark of the second quarter and got off to a terrible start. He was called for a loose ball foul going for an offensive rebound, then he fell asleep under the rim, and committed a goaltend on an and-one. He was summoned to the sideline and received an earful from his coach.

However, his coach decided to stick with him, and it paid off. The first play after the lecture was a post-up for Jonas and he drew a foul on the defense. On the next play, he caught a pass in the pick and roll and scored. He also picked up a pair of offensive rebounds in the quarter and threw in a put-back. Finally, he tipped home an errand alley-oop pass and showed great athleticism.

He registered three blocks in the half, with two coming on one possession where twice he stuffed his man at the rim. He altered a number of shots and generally dissuaded the Croatians from attacking the rim.

The second half looked much the same for Jonas. He blocked two more shots and centred a zone defense for Lithuania that brought the Croatian offense to a screeching halt. He set a number of solid screens which freed up his teammates for some open looks. He did pick up a pair of fouls, but they were very weak, at best. He was called for a clear-out on an offensive rebound and for a moving screen.

He finished the game with 6 points on 3/5 shooting, five rebounds (2/3), 2 turnovers, 3 fouls drawn and 5 (!!) blocks. He played 20 minutes and was a -7.


Jonas looked decent on offense. He grabbed a pair of offensive rebounds, although he was a little overzealous at times. He scored off two pick-and-roll plays, and he tossed in a put-back. He got three post touches; he was fouled on one, he turned it over on another and he missed a layup at the rim.

He set good screens and created a lot of space for his teammates. A lot of the success of the wing players can be attributed to his screens.


I know what you’re thinking; five blocks means he was everywhere, right? Well, not really. Don’t get me wrong – he had a good game defensively, but I just don’t think he was as good as those five blocks would indicate. He was slow to step out on his man on pick and pops, and he showed some mental lapses (which earned him a stern lecture from his coach).

That being said, five blocks is five blocks (including this gorgeous swat). He was an intimidating rim presence and he challenged/changed many Croatian shots. He did a good job anchoring a zone defense which may prompt Casey to trot out his vaunted zone defenses.


  • The wings have really stepped up in the past few games. Today, Kleiza and Maciulis carried the charge. Who will step up on Sunday?
  • I don’t know what happens in the locker room, but the team always plays well after the half. Today, they came out roaring in the third quarter and grabbed a commanding lead.
  • Their next opponent will be France, who they’ve already defeated en route to the championship game.
  • Seeing all these former Toronto Raptors prompted me to come up with an all-Eurobasket line-up. How’s this team sound? Caldron-Ukic-Kleiza-Valanciunas-Ajinca. Yeah…
  • The Croatian head coach would like you to give peace a chance:

  • Lithuania will face France for the championship on Sunday at 3 PM EST. It should be a good one. I will not be able to watch the game (there may be an all-important fantasy hockey draft taking place), but I will try write a short piece, along with a Eurobasket recap on Monday.

  • mountio

    Ill repeat something I said at the start of these recaps (which are great btw) – you cant help but read these and have a fair bit of doubt about JVs impact in the league this year. His team clearly appears to be playing well .. mostly without him. Ya, hes getting a little shafted on the minutes .. but if he was really blowing people away game after game when he was getting minutes, the coach would have to play him more. Put all the baises aside .. he would simply have no choice.
    Sooo .. what does this mean for the raps? I think the borderline all star talk appears to be waaaay off base. Focus of the offense? Probably pre-mature. Solid starter? I think thats still reasonable .. but not sure his production will be much different from Amir’s …
    (and no, Im not getting any enjoyment out of typing this .. as I was hoping for much more)..

    • mike, prague

      I mostly agree with you yeah … He’s only going into his second year so he still has plenty of time, but so far I can’t say that I have been overwhelmingly impressed by his play in Slovenia. Still definitely has a higher ceiling than Amir as we know him (nothing against him of course).

    • Van Grungy

      Actually, what I see is that Lithuania is going to the finals because they have Jonas as an option for center. When they needed a Center like him he helped win the game.

      Too bad we don’t get to see a Jonas v Gasol final. That match up alone would be a better indicator of how Jonas will do in the NBA than all the previous games combined. IMO

      • mountio

        Im not saying he hasnt been helpful .. sure he has. But hes got to be something like the 4th or 5th most important player on the team right now .. so Id say your take is a pretty generous one.
        Also .. as for the Gasol vs Jonas matchup .. I think thats exactly the fallacy. We might have seen Lithuania vs Spain .. but we wouldnt have seen much of JV vs MG. I know as a Raps fan, thats I want to see .. and what Id be thinking .. but the evidence shows otherwise.
        Its sort of like saying we saw a Duncan / Birdman matchup in the finals. While technically true .. it was hardly the highlight of any of the games.

    • Gytis Žilinskas

      I’d say a part of the reason is that Lithuania hasn’t had a good offensive center for a long time, and the game needs a lot of restructuring to get him more touches (for years Javtokas was the main big guy, and he is one of the guys that stays on the teams solely because of defensive skills). On top of that, this NT with their recently hired head coached made a complete switch from an offensive to defensive style of play. So it’s not a huge surprise Jonas struggles to find a place on the court.

      Moreover, Lithuania doesn’t have a true PG. Sure, Kalnietis is doing a decent job, but he is a true SF (which he plays during the regular season) and as such his input is mostly individual off/def rather than moving the ball. For comparison, remember the incredible plays that Jasikevicius, a real high IQ PG, pulled off with Valanciunas before.

      Last but not least, from what I’ve seen Lithuanian NT players are notorious for showing total transformations for when playing for their country. There are countless examples of “a Lithuanian showed great skill during an international tournament” – “he gets bought by a top team” – “they can’t manage to achieve a even a shadow of his results on a new team”. Especially in NBA. During the early 2000 Lithuania was a real threat to the Dream Team. Almost beating them in Sydney, and then actually beating them in Athens. Yet the few players that came over to play for NBA never showed too much. So this might be an inverse situation, JV and DMo have certainly improved a lot during the last year they spent in the NBA, but now they struggle to integrate with the current NT.

      I know this is probably just wishful thinking, trying to keep the high hopes alive, but I really don’t think one relatively short tournament is a big indication about future JV’s skill. He showed a lot of improvement during the last season, he played well in the Summer league and I can’t wait to see what he does during the next season. All-star? No freaking way. But a solid starter with 25-30min and relatively consisten double-doubles? I can see that. And what more can you want from a 21 year old player in his sophomore year.

      • pran

        well it’s a different game isn’t it? Bigs are allowed to stay in the paint all the time, and being able to shoot is more efficient than trying to get past huge players that all have pekovic body type.

    • rick

      I do hear your point but you must remember that he posted great numbers in the NBA in the last 2 months of the season plus he won the NBA summer league MVP award against weaker talent truebit at least players who are in the disscussion to be in the NBA as oppose to random Lithuanian players who will never play in the NBA.I agree the hype is a bit overboard but I do believe hell make a significant leap in production. thoughts?

      • Justin

        I mean Jaryd Bayless won a summer league MVP as well.

  • Sek99

    I remember Ricky Rubio playing in this tournament years ago when he was drafted. I believe he came off the bench behind Calderon and shot below 40%, had some pretty poor stats, and wasn’t getting much play time. I thought he was going to be the biggest bust, and meanwhile he’s one of the better young point guards in a league inundated with good, young pg’s.

    I think the international game is played and coached so differently from the NBA that you can’t make snap judgements based off Val’s play. Sure, if he was at a higher level he would dominate, but I think if you have reasonable expectations for his play I’d say it’s a little too early to judge him. Wait until he faces real NBA competition in the real NBA game.

  • mountio

    watching the france game didnt help my impressions of young JV. He REALLY struggled in that one ..

    • ckh26

      Don’t give up hope yet there mountio…. The baltic boys best player was Klieza… and you know how he looked here…. we couldn’t get him out of town fast enough. Its a different game over there. JV will be given some things to work on when he gets into camp to get ready for the NBA style of play. While he didn’t shine as brightly as we all hoped in each and every game but he did play well on balance…. and /…. he did play on a team that got to the finals of a high level tournament.

      • Cameron Becker

        Agreed, wouldn’t be too disappointed. It’s Europe, sometimes young players just don’t get much playing time or focus of the offense over there, no matter how talented. He probably hasn’t set the world on fire in the time he has got, but yeh, I would wait for the NBA season.

  • Neo

    Whoever thinks JV is going to be a boarder line All-Star or even a 2nd option on the Raptors is going to be VERY disappointed, I love the kid but he’s got a LONG WAY to go. Big men don’t just come in the league and start destroying people (unless ur Shaq). I think he will show flashes of brilliance this season, but be very inconsistent. His breakout to All-Star level play will probably happen in his 4th year.