If there was a list of players that coach Jonas Kazlauskas could save from injuries, Mantas Kalnietis would be close to the top of it.
The newly elected captain of Lithuanian national team dislocated collarbone in a final preparation game against Croatia in Zagreb after colliding with Ante Tomic.
Kalnietis, easily Lithuania’s best point guard, will now miss the World Cup. His absence will give headache to the coaching staff.
Jonas Kazlauskas admitted after the game against Croatia that he couldn’t concentrate on the action that was taking place on court.
The players appeared to be gutted too as Croatia dominated the whole game securing a convincing 94-80 victory. It was Lithuania’s second loss in 14 games, also a second in a row as the Baltic giants were defeated by Slovenia a couple of days ago.
Before the game Jonas Kazlauskas announced that the last two players to leave the team are Adas Juskevicius and Arturas Gudaitis. However, the situation quickly changed.
25-year-old shooting guard Adas Juskevicius will now replace Mantas Kalnietis in the final squad for the World Cup.
Meanwhile another national team rookie Saruns Vasiliauskas will see his role increased. He was originally expected to come off the bench to give Kalnietis 10-15 minutes rest. Kalnietis’ injury will put Vasiliauskas at te starting point guard position.
Lithuania’s final roster: Jonas Valanciunas, Darjus Lavrinovic, Donatas Motiejunas, Ksistof Lavrinovic, Paulius Jankunas, Jonas Maciulis, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Simas Jasaitis, Martynas Pocius, Renaldas Seibutis, Sarunas Vasiliauskas, Adas Juskevicius.
Lithuania starts its World Cup campaign on Saturday with a game against Mexico.