The best young team of the world, reigning u18 European champion Lithuania won the u19 World Championship in Riga to confirm their domination among the 92-93 generation players. Lithuania topped Serbia in the championship game 85-67. This group of youngsters also won the u16 Eurobasket three years ago. Jonas Valanciunas was awarded the MVP trophy all three times.
Lithuania wasn't spectacular today as they didn't perform as well as they did during most of this tournament. They started a bit nervous and inaccurate. Jonas Valanciunas, on the other hand, played better than ever. He was the leader, the soul, the energy, the hammer. The Toronto Raptors draft pick thrashed the entire Serbian team. He was everywhere, showing such physical dominance and game superiority. Then the rest of the team built a victory around him. They played physical, putting pressure on Serbian players, running the floor and driving their passion all the way to the gold. When they elevated their game, Lithuania ran away for real.
Serbia fought all game long and managed to stay alive until the fourth quarter. Although this wasn't the team we saw yesterday. In the first seven games of the tournament, Aleksandr Cvetkovic was the leader, the main source of creativity of his team. Since yesterday's match against Argentina, he stayed way too much off the ball. He just brought the ball up, gave it to Vujosevic or Bogdanovic and went to the corner. Vujosevic and Bogdanovic have been great this weekend so Serbia competed pretty well. But they suddenly ruled out their man weapon, keeping their best player apart.
The Baltic team led the game from the beginning, first managing short distances to finally open the decisive gap late in the third quarter. Bogic Vujosevic tied the game (44-44), Lithuania replied and Bogdan Bogdanovic sank a three pointer (49-47). Jonas Valanciunas closed a 13-0 run. Cizauskas contributed a lot. We even saw what is kind of a "classic" in Lithuanian games: a great action (dunk or penetration) from Arnas Butkevicius. The third period ended in a 15-point game (62-47). Serbia never looked able to answer. Jonas Valanciunas and Rolandas Jakstas dunked to make it 20-points (81-61). The Lithuanian crowd started celebrating.
Jonas Valanciunas was impressive today. Many comments and thoughts circulated in this tournament. One of the most repeated one talked about who is regretting not selecting Jonas in the recent NBA draft. Valanciunas finished the game with 36 points and 8 rebounds. Only Edgaras Ulanovas (12 points) joined him in double digits in scoring. PG Vytenis Cizauskas contributed with 9 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Djordje Drenovac led Serbian scorers with 14 points. Bogdan Bogdanovic netted 13 while Aleksandr Cvetkovic and Bogic Vujosevic added 11 each.
FIBA ALL-TEAM TOURNAMENT:
- G Aleksandr Cvetkovic (6'3", Serbia): 14'4ppg, 3'8rpg, 2'7apg. He plays pro basketball in Red Star (Serbian and Adriatic league)
- G Dmitry Kulagin (6'5", Russia): 15'9ppg, 4'5rpg, 2'2apg. He's a free agent after being dismissed by Nizhny Novgorod (Russian league) for disciplinary reasons.
- G Hugh Greenwood (6'3", Australia): 17'1ppg, 4rpg, 2'6apg. The Aussie shooter is a 2011 signee of the University of New Mexico.
- F Jeremy Lamb (6'5", USA): 16'2ppg, 4'3rpg, 2apg. An NCAA Champion in 2011 with the UConn Huskies.
- C Jonas Valanciunas (7'0", Lithuania): 23ppg, 13'9rpg, 3'2bpg. #5 NBA Draft pick by the Toronto Raptors.
MVP: Jonas Valanciunas
3. Russia (beat Argentina for 3rd place, 77-72)
5. United States (beat Australia for 5th place, 78-77)
7. Poland (beat Croatia for 7th place 82-70)
14. Chinese Taipei
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.
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