Lithuania shake off poor start; defeat Turkey in quarters

Lithuania booked the first semi-final spot of the FIBA World Cup as they defeated Turkey 73-61 at the Palau Saint Jordi in Barcelona on Tuesday.

Renaldas Seibutis led the Lithuanians with a game-high 19 points as they took advantage of their depth on the bench to outscore Turkey 28-6.

Kerem Gonlum led Turkey with 13 points.

It was Turkey though that got off to the better start as a dunk by Sinan Gular gave the 2010 runners-up a 14-6 advantage. The Lithuanians were sloppy, and not connecting on their open opportunities.

Buckets by Donatas Motiejunas and Renaldas Seibutis restored pride in the Lithuanian camp but they trailed 16-11 after one.

The Baltic side fought back in the second and with 5:42 left until half-time, a three from Darijus Lavrinovic gave the Lithuanians a 24-23 lead. Turkey needed an answer. The momentum was with the 2010 world championship bronze medallists.

But thankfully for Turkey, Lithuania then went cold. Their offence was static and they couldn’t buy a bucket. A single free throw by Emir Preldzic tied the scores at 24-24 after a minute of no activity. Lithuania made sure that it was a minor blip as they finished the half strong to lead 33-28.

In a nip-and-tuck third period, a three from Martynas Pocius handed the Lithuanians a 42-41 lead and they maintained their advantage after three quarters at 47-44 thanks to a buzzer-beater from Paulius Jankunas.

And Lithuania would only extend their advantage in the final ten minutes, as a fatigued Turkish outfit were bullied inside by an energetic Lithuanian frontline, led by Toronto Raptors forward Jonas Valanciunas.

Turkey resorted to three-point shooting for the final three minutes, which was below par as they finished 17 percent from deep, hitting three of their 18 attempts in total.

Lithuania will meet either USA or Slovenia in the semi-finals. They play in the next game at 21:00 (local time).

Photo: FIBA

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