The United States (5-0) defeated Lithuania (3-2) 107-105 in OT at the FIBA U19 World championships in Latvia. This was the game of the tournament thus far. The USA dominated for 39 minutes and then the match went crazy. It was a beautiful and highly entertaining game, which saw two outstanding comebacks. First Lithuania came back in the fourth quarter trailing by 8 points with 37 seconds to go. Then the USA made a comeback in overtime after looking completely off in the first 2:30.
The United States followed Jeremy Lamb and Joe Jackson to a 19 point lead (48-29) late in the second quarter. Edgaras Ulanovas, Dovydas Redikas and Jonas Valanciunas managed to reduce the gap to 10 points before halftime. The USA controlled the rhythm and played its way most of the game. Using their athleticism, being very incisive attacking the rim, showing activity and long arms at the defensive end and being tough over Valanciunas. Only the Baltic zone defense seemed to be an issue. Lithuania got to within 5 points three times in the second half but Jeremy Lamb put on a terrific show to help the USA to a comfortable lead.
The trio of Valanciunas-Ulanovas-Redikas never surrendered. The Toronto Raptors draft pick's relentless effort at both ends paced his team to another comeback. Joe Jackson did a lot of damage with his penetration all game long, but lost control in the decisive moments of the match. Jeremy Lamb completed a 1-and-1 and Patric Young scored off the offensive rebound to give USA an eight-point (94-86) lead with 37 seconds to play in the fourth quarter. Just after that, craziness: Ulanovas scored and drew the foul. Missed the free throw but Redikas grabbed the offensive rebound. He missed but Valanciunas came up with another offensive board and scored (94-90). 27 seconds left. Joe Jackson turned the ball over again as he over-penetrated. Redikas scored (94-92). 16 seconds left. Patric Young missed both free throws leaving Lithuania alive. Ulanovas tied the game with a layup with 3 seconds to go. USA still had time to turn the ball over one more time, but a Redikas desperate half-court bomb didn't go. Overtime.
Team USA was totally out of the game when the extra time started. Lithuania kept its high intensity. Ulanovas sank a three pointer to open a six-point gap (95-101) with a bit over 3 minutes to go in the game. When it looked worse than ever, the USA replied. Patric Young struggled, but the Florida center stepped up big in overtime. He became a dominant beast in the paint. Drawing fouls, crashing the boards and dunking. Unstoppable. (100-101). Jeremy Lamb showed up again with a steal, assisting James Bell for an uncontested dunk to take the lead back (102-101) to the American side. The show got into an even higher level. A counter move by Valanciunas as he finished with a powerful dunk. Patric Young replied in the very next play with a monster two-handed dunk in his second 1-and-1 action in a few seconds span. Ulanovas tied the game from the free throw line with one minute to play. Joe Jackson then turned over the ball, Redikas missed the three pointer. 19 seconds, American ball. Jeremy Lamb's ball. The UConn forward won the game for his team with a beautiful penetration, stopping in mid-range to net the jumper. Redikas had a buzzer-beater three-point shot but missed it.
Jeremy Lamb scored 35 points (13/23 FG, 5/7 3P). Patric Young sealed 15 points and 7 rebounds. Joe Jackson reached 19 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists but collected 7 turnovers, most of them in crunch time. For Lithuania, Jonas Valanciunas ended the game with 30 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocks. Edgaras Ulanovas shined with 29 points while Redikas added 22 points and 10 rebounds but 8 turnovers.
With this victory USA remains unbeaten and clinches the first position of the group. Lithuania just needs to beat Egypt tomorrow to secure second place.
This post was written by International Scout and Correspondent Alejandro Gonzalez and Carl Berman of NetScouts Basketball. Alejandro, Carl and NetScouts Basketball can be followed on twitter @Eil82, @carlberman and @netscouts.