USA U19 Team Falls To Lithuania 108-75
June 28, 2011 • Vilnius, Lithuania
Playing it second and final exhibition game before play begins Thursday at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship for Men, the USA U19 National Team fell 108-75 to the Lithuania U19 National Team in an exhibition game Tuesday in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Doug McDermott (Creighton/Ames, Iowa) paced the USA effort with 15 points and seven rebounds, Jeremy Lamb (Connecticut/ Norcross, Ga.) added 13 points, and Joe Jackson (Memphis/Memphis, Tenn.) scored 12. Tony Mitchell (North Texas/Dallas, Texas) headed the USA’s rebounding effort with eight.
“At the end of the first quarter we had turnovers that led to three straight 3s and that got them going, got the crowd going and they played very well from there,” said USA head coach Paul Hewitt (George Mason). “We’ve got to do a better job of taking care of the basketball; we’ve got to do a better job on the boards. We didn’t rebound as consistently as I would have liked tonight and turnovers led to too many extra chances for them. They’re a very good basketball team.”
“I think we are improving. I do think we have time to continue to improve. I saw some good things tonight, hopefully we’ll keep moving forward,” added Hewitt.
The U.S. enjoyed its only lead of the contest at 6-5 after two free throws from Jackson. Lithuania then reeled off nine straight points, six off free throws, to take a 14-6 lead. The USA, following a basket by Kyhle Marshall (Butler/Davie, Fla), closed the gap to 22-19 with 1:37 left in the first quarter, however, three different Lithuania players drained a 3-pointer in a 45 second span to up the lead to 34-21. A basket by Marshall made it 34-23 after the first 10 minutes.
Lithuania’s Zygimantas Skucas scored his team’s first eight points of the second quarter as the hosts expanded their lead to 39-25 with 8:05 remaining before halftime. The USA trailed 44-31 following a Lamb jumper, but Lithuania went on another 9-0 run to take charge 53-31. At halftime the USA squad was facing a 21-point deficit, 59-38.
The U.S. made 16-37 (.432 percent) of its field goals in the first two quarters and went 0-6 from beyond the 3-point stripe. Lithuania, which made 18-of-25 free throws in the first half, connected on 18-of-41 shots (.439 percent) and held a 29-21 advantage on the glass.
Lithuania continued its assault and opened the third quarter by scoring the first eight points and upping its advantage to 67-38. Finishing off the third period by scoring 11 of its last 15 points in the quarter from the charity stripe, the U.S. entered the final quarter lagging behind 89-61. The Americans outscored Lithuania 24-19 in the final stanza to fall 108-75.
“I think this is a learning curve for us because we’ve just been together for a little over a week now and this loss is helping prepare us for what is coming up,” stated Patric Young (Florida/Jacksonville, Fla.), who finished with six points and six rebounds. “This is going to help prepare us for Egypt, Serbia and China and hopefully we’ll get another chance at these guys and give them a better fight next time.”
The U.S. was forced into 21 turnovers and lost the battle on the glass 52-39. Failing to make a 3-pointer for the game (0-17), the USA shot only 35.6 percent overall, while Lithuania made 47.0 percent (31-66 FGs) of it field goal tries, including 9-of-22 threes. The host team also had a huge advantage at the foul line, sinking 37-of-46 tries, while the U.S. was 23-of-34.
Seven-foot center Jonas Valanciunas, who was the No. 5 pick by Toronto in last week’s NBA Draft, led Lithuania with 23 points and 11 rebounds.
“We’re definitely going to get better by just learning from our mistakes,” said Lamb. “We’re good players, we just have to gel as a team and do the little things. We haven’t been doing the little things and we haven’t playing hard. I know we have more heart than that.”
Assisting Hewitt on the U.S. sidelines are collegiate head coaches Randy Bennett of St. Mary’s College and Cliff Warren of Jacksonville University.
Sixteen nations will battle for the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship for Men title June 30-July 10 in Valmiera, Liepaja and Riga, Latvia. The U.S. squad’s preliminary round play opens June 30 (9 a.m. EDT) in Liepaja against Egypt, followed by Serbia on July 1 (9 a.m. EDT), and the USA squad will conclude preliminary play versus China on July 2 (11:15 a.m. EDT). The top three teams from each preliminary group will qualify for the preliminary second round, while the fourth place teams will qualify for the classification round to determine 13th to 16th places. The quarterfinals will be held on July 8, semifinals are slated for July 9 and the gold and bronze medal games, as well as the 5th/6th place and 7th/8th place games will be contested on July 10.