Two players showed their scoring skills in the opening game of Group D between Lithuania and New Zealand. Kestutis Kemzura’s men finished on top 92-79 in a tightly contested game.
New Zealand opened the scoring with the main star on the team Kirk Penney being the biggest trouble of the opponents’ defence. It didn’t take long for Lithuanians to wake and a scoring contest was started. Penney, who is familiar with Lithuanian basketball after spending a season with Zalgiris, kept his team in the game. After the first ten minutes New Zealand down 24-25.
The second quarter was dominated by the team in green jerseys. Lithuania kept their opponents scoreless for a large part of the second quarter only allowing 10 points in their basket. A confident finish of the second quarter saw Lithuanians take a 16-point lead.
However, that was just a half of the story. New Zealand were not going to give up. The third quarter was high scoring for both teams as it ended 27-24 for the Tall Blacks.
While Kirk Penney remained a mystery for Lithuanian guards, other players stepped up for New Zealand in the fourth quarter. Tall Blacks reduced the gap to just 8 points but were unable to get any closer. Linas Kleiza was the main man keeping his team ahead with 27 points. Meanwhile, Kirk Penney was close to reaching 40 points as he bagged 37.
The were some bad news for the Baltic Giants as the starting center Robertas Javtokas picked up a ankle injury early in the game and never returned. It still unknown how much time it will take for him to get back in action as the injury appears to be serious.