With the weight of the nation on their shoulders. Eurobasket hosts, Lithuania have passed the first test by beating Great Britain 80-69 in the final game of day one in Panevezys.
This though was by no means a routine victory, as Lithuania were made to fight to the very end, as Great Britain ignored the countless abuse and booing being thrown at them by the near scary home supporters.
Rimantas Kaukenas led Lithuania with 16 points, and he scored 10 of them in the fourth quarter as the hosts went on a game-winning 13-2 run to seal the victory, as Britain, with little help from their bench faded away.
Lithuania’s cause looked to of been helped slightly when news broke that GB center, Robert Archibald was ruled out due to a migrane and was not risked by coach Chris Finch. Team GB though attacked their more experienced Lithuanian counterparts for the majority of the contest with Luol Deng leading all scorers with 25 points for Great Britain. He also added 10 rebounds to his statsheet.
GB took the early advantage with triples from Deng and Nate Reinking, but Lithuania came fighting back to lead 19-18 after one.
Lithuania went into the driving seat in the second, as Great Britain lost their composure, much to the delight of the yellow, green and red clad support. And they led GB by double-digits at the half, thanks to returning veteran Surunas Jasikevicius (49-39).
But GB came roaring back.
A Deng one-handed slam, followed by a transition bucket from Joel Freeland trimmed the deficit to eight before a Deng and Dan Clark inspired 8-0 run gave the Brits a 57-54 lead going into the final stanza.
Lithuania though had the answers, and used their experience to exploit the weaknesses that GB have along the perimeter, as Simas Jasaitis drained the latter of back-to-back three-pointers to seal GB’s fate.