Preview >> USA Men To Face Lithuania Saturday
The USA Men’s Olympic Basketball Team resumes competition in Pool A by taking on Lithuania at the Olympic Park Basketball Arena. In its last outing, Lithuania fell to France 82-74 as they bring a 1-2 record in Group A into its contest against the U.S.
Playing in its sixth consecutive Olympic Games, Lithuania dropped its opener against Argentina 102-79, despite 20 points and seven rebounds from Linas Kleiza. Lithuania earned its first win in the second game, dispatching Nigeria 72-53 behind a game-high 13 points from Kleiza. In its third game, Lithuania led by four at halftime, but was outscore 20-9 in the third quarter as France rallied for an 82-74 victory.
Through three contests, Kleiza leads the squad in both points and rebounds with 16.0 and 6.7 per game, respectively. Sarunas Jasikevicius leads the team in assists with 6.0 per game..
Get prepared for today's game with our preview.
Chris Collins (U.S. workout coach/scout & Duke University assistant coach)
What are your expectations for Lithuania?
Anytime you play Lithuania, you know you’re in for a tough game. They’re very proud team. They’ve had a lot of success on the international stage. They’re always one of the best shooting teams you’re going to face. They have great spacing so it’s very important defensively that you communicate and talk. A big key for us in this game is our ability to take away their 3’s. That’s the great equalizer and when they’re at their best, they’re spacing the floor and they have a lot of guys that can shoot.
Who are the key players for the Lithuanians?
Their top guy is Linas Kleiza and obviously he’s very comfortable playing against our guys being in the NBA. He’s a difficult matchup because he’s very versatile. He’s strong. He can go inside and post and he can also shoot and put it on the floor. He’s their main scorer, he takes the most shots, he’s their go-to guy. They surround him with a lot shooting. Their point guards, especially Sarunas Jasikevicius who has been a very accomplished player on the international stage, is a great leader for them. They’re really the two leaders out there that we need to do a good job defending.
What are the keys to the game for the USA?
I think a little bit like we’ve done the last couple of games. We have to really make it an athletic game. We have to look to push the ball, use our speed, use our quickness, make the game have a lot of possessions and hopefully wear them down as the course of the game goes on and play to our strengths. We can’t get into a game where both teams are walking it up and it’s a half-court game. That will be more to their advantage. I think the biggest key for us is to continue to play fast and to play aggressive and to really look to attack.
Looking ahead to Lithuania, what are your thoughts on them?
They run a very good continuity offense. We've played Lithuania quite a bit in the Olympics and World Championships and they're very well coached and deep. They really play all 12 of their players. We just want to continue to play well; if we play well then we'll have a good shot at winning. Lithuania plays with great spirit and they have veterans; you know they've been in this before. (Linas) Kleiza is one of the better players internationally and it revolves around him so we're going to have to do a very good job on him.