Lithuania takes down Korea, USA topples the Dominican Republic.

Day 5 of FIBA World Cup action wrapped up with both Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania) and DeMar DeRozan’s (USA) teams emerging victorious. Lithuania beat Korea 79-49, while the United States toppled the Dominicans 106-71.

Lithuania vs. Korea – Game Recap

As one could have expected, the Koreans were no match for the Lithuanians. The most obvious discrepancy was height — the Lithuanians boasted four 7-footers, while Korea had none — though the Baltic Giants were also the more skilled team.

Size dictated Korea’s style of play. Without any discernible bigs to speak of, Korea relied on a five-out, pick-and-pop offense built around generating open spot-ups with some neatly designed sets. The smallball strategy worked in the first half with Lithuania’s bigs struggling to rotate out to the perimeter, but a clever halftime adjustment saw Lithuania opting to switch liberally. As a result, the Koreans were held to 2o points in the second half.

Lithuania eschewed their size advantage by opting to play mostly on the perimeter. Despite both Donatas Motiejunas and Valanciunas boasting in excess of four inches and 30 pounds on their respective defenders, Lithuania ran only a small handful of post-ups. To their credit, Lithuania’s wings played well, connecting on 9-of-21 triples (three were missed by Motiejunas).

Lithuania vs. Korea – Valanciunas’ assessment

Boxscore – 12 points (6-for-7 FG), 8 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 1 block, 22 minutes played

In some respect, this game reflected many played by the Raptors last season. Valanciunas’ first move on offense was always to establish post position — a perfectly sensible move given his size advantage — yet not once did Lithuania opt to deliver him the ball to set up a post-up. Not once. Valanciunas mostly fed off a diet of put-backs, pick-and-roll buckets and a pair of high-low feeds from Motiejunas. Valanciunas was noticably frustrated at the half, presumably by the lack of opportunities.

Where Valanciunas was most effective was on defense. Of Korea’s 48 field-goal attempts, only eight were attempted inside the paint. Granted, Korea’s prioritization of spot-ups certainly played a factor, as did Lithuania’s strong guard play, but Valanciunas did provide strong rim-protection. He was also solid in closeouts, though his limited foot speed did at times draw the ire of his head coach.

USA vs. Dominican Republic – Game Recap

Welp. It wasn’t much of a game. The States only led by three points after the first quarter due to some extremely sloppy play from the starters, and would have likely lost the quarter had it not been for the non-stop hustle from Kenneth Faried and Anthony Davis. From thereon, the States went on to win the final three quarters by a combined 32 points en route to their second rout of the Dominicans in two weeks.

Having now played four games, the United States’ style of play is pretty clear — they’re relying on speed and athleticism to force turnovers and score in transition. Their play isn’t necessarily well-coordinated, nor meticulously executed, but it’s been tremendously effective in overwhelming their opponents thus far. Ironically enough, their biggest hurdle is Team Spain, whose style of play is the diametric opposite, reliant on precise playmaking and deliberate movements. It will be fascinating to see which of the two countries — and therefore styles — wins out.

USA vs. Dominican Republic – DeRozan’s Assessment

Boxscore – 11 points (5-for-8 FG, 1-for-3 3FG), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 turnovers, 3 steals, 18 minutes played

On the whole, it was DeRozan’s best showing thus far in the tournament. The 1-for-3 three-point shooting and five turnovers blemished what was otherwise a good performance. As me, Andrew and Zarar noted on the last episode of Raptors Weekly, DeRozan looked shaky and somewhat hesitant over his first three games. That was to be expected, as his role and teammates were both foreign to him. Therefore, DeRozan figured to improve with more games and minutes played under his belt.

He looked comfortable on Wednesday, making a few timely cuts in transition while making solid decisions in the pick-and-roll. He was diligent on defense, with the three steals coming as a result of cutting passing lanes rather than poorly thought-out gambles. Most of his contributions came in a blowout against a team with no NBA talent (Francisco Garcia sat out to rest an injury), but DeRozan’s calmer demeanor can only bode well for both himself and the States going forward in this awful tournament.

Someone learned a thing or two from James Harden.

  • DC

    Why do most sports reporters and announcers think it’s polite to use subjective forms of personal pronouns as objects of verbs and prepositions when there is more than one object? You would never say “DeRozan’s calmer demeanour can only bode well for he”, because it’s obviously bad grammar. Well, saying “DeRozan’s calmer demeanour can only bode well for both he and the States going forward . . ” is equally bad grammar!

    • feylines

      most? wow, some citations would be nice

      • DC

        OK, replace “most” with “so many”. Haven’t kept score.

    • Mexiballer

      Polite? Who gives shit about polite. I care a lot more about the insight that a writer brings to his article then if he is using perfect grammar or not.

      • DC

        Didn’t say anyone should be polite.

        Writers on this site – including Will – and some readers care about good writing style.

        • DDayLewis

          What is the issue with what I wrote?

          • DC

            Described in my first post, intended to be constructive (I don’t flag typos or careless errors). It’s a very common grammatical error. If my comment is objectionable, it’ll be my last on writing style.

            • DDayLewis

              That’s cool. Just curious as to what it should be. Would “himself” instead of “he” be correct?

              • DC

                Him or himself (unambiguous). When in doubt, ask yourself which pronoun you would use if there were only one object; the correct one is usually obvious. A compound object somehow confuses many, but doesn’t change the (objective) case of the pronoun.

                • DDayLewis

                  Thanks for the tip! It should be fixed in the post.

                • Alex Vostrikov

                  well, my friend….
                  that’s why so many people are lonely… or became gay.
                  take it easy, its not published in NY post on something.

                • j

                  Alex, just because it’s not published in a larger forum/medium doesn’t make it any less important to strive for excellence. Being lonely and/or gay (which you used in a derogatory way as inferred), has absolutely zero connection with the original context of the post and isn’t articulate, thoughtful, or constructive. I mean if you were to follow that logic in saying that just because it’s not in the NY post makes it any less important, then that applies to anything at a lower level of anything. I.e would you tell an aspiring basketball player (a child) to stop playing hard or well, since it’s not college basketball anyways? Or for a student to not worry about writing succinctly because he or she isn’t attending Harvard? Probably not. Hope you can appreciate that in order to be consistent with your view you have to agree with my above statements as well. As for DDayLewis, way to take the constructive criticism in stride and keep up the good work.

                • Alex Vostrikov

                  when people stop being anal about all little things… life becomes more enjoyable and easy.

  • D.flight9

    You guys should do more of these

    • DDayLewis

      There will be another recap coming out tomorrow.

  • Heyjoe

    Didn’t watch the game but from looking at the boxscore I”m wondering how Derozan racked up 5 turnovers? How many were fouls?

  • A G

    Nice recap. Not that’s it a big deal but you missed demars minutes from the boxscore, would be good to see.

    • DDayLewis

      He played 18 minutes