Just a heads up for those who have ESPN
Next Test for the USA: Lithuania
Nathaniel S. Butler
Aug. 20, 2010 • Madrid, Spain
The USA Men’s World Championship Team, which defeated China in a scrimmage and France in an exhibition game last week in New York, faces its next test tomorrow night in Madrid with a 9:00 p.m. (3:00 p.m. EDT / ESPN) tip-off against Lithuania. The whole team is looking forward to this game, as well as Sunday’s against Spain and their final exhibition game against Greece on Wednesday.
Their best player is Linas Kleiza, who played for the Denver Nuggets and now plays for the Toronto Raptors. He’s a guy who, it’s basically his team now, so he’s going to take the majority of the shots. He’s going to be the key guy for everything they do.
There had always been a certain kind of mystique behind Linas Kleiza as he had left Lithuania in his teens to play his basketball on the other side of the Pond. Not many people knew who he was as a player and could only create an idea seeing him play for the National Team.
This year was a bit different – Kleiza decided to leave the NBA behind him and continue his career in Greece with Olympiacos Piraeus. Though the initial switch to European basketball was because of the money, Kleiza discovered himself as a true leader and a player, who the team could rely on in times of hardship.
Linas played a crucial role in the march of Olympiacos to the Euroleague final, where the club lost to Spanish powerhouse Barcelona. As well as outshining players such as Josh Childress, Milos Teodosic or Theo Papaloukas, Kleiza also received the Alphonso Ford Trophy, awarded to the Europe’s elite competition’s top-scorer and he became the first Lithuanian ever to do be handed the accolade..