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Post-Game

Lithuania holds off Italy late with Valanciunas heroics

The Lithuanians faced another tough test today with a game Italy squad that came out firing early, and went at Jonas Valanciunas right away. He seemed ineffective early in the game and struggled, leaving the court with a -3 plus/minus in the first half. The team stormed back in the second quarter without him, led by Adas Juskevicius and Mindaugas Kuzminskas, who both had strong games. Kuzminskas kept them in it in the first quarter with 9 early points including a pair of deep contested 3-pointers, and Juskevicius led the team with 20 points for the game and tied for the team lead at +14.Coming out of halftime, the Italians attacked Valanciunas again right away, but he looked stronger on his defensive rotations, and used his frame effectively on both ends of the court late, coming through in the last couple minutes with a big block on a defensive rotation, and then grabbing an offensive rebound on the ensuing offensive possession to get free throws. He followed that up with a dunk the next time down after using his size to establish space at the rim. Valanciunas finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds, a block and a steal, and during the fourth quarter seemed to control the paint at both ends of the court.

Coming out of halftime, the Italians attacked Valanciunas again right away, but he looked stronger on his defensive rotations, and used his frame effectively on both ends of the court late, coming through in the last couple minutes with a big block on a defensive rotation, and then grabbing an offensive rebound on the ensuing offensive possession to get free throws. He followed that up with a dunk the next time down after using his size to establish space at the rim. Valanciunas finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds, a block and a steal, and during the fourth quarter seemed to control the paint at both ends of the court. Italy was led by Luigi Datome, who had 24 points including going 4/8 from downtown, but they struggled to find secondary scoring, with Marco Belinelli scoring 14 points on 13 attempts as the only other starter to manage double digits.

Next up for the Lithuanians is Ukraine on Tuesday. The Ukrainians have a 1-2 record thus far, with their lone win being over Georgia earlier in the day today.

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