On Friday (November 27), the Lithuanian national basketball team played EuroBasket qualifying game against Denmark. Two teams have never met before in the history, and Lithuanians unexpectedly lost with the result 76:80 (22:21, 24:17, 13:22, 17:20). This was the second loss for Lithuanians in the qualification stage.
Lithuanian national team starting five: Mantas Kalnietis, Tomas Dimša, Eimantas Bendžius, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Laurynas Birutis.
The first points were scored by T. Dimša (2:0). After, E. Bendžius added one three-pointer, T. Dimša made another two-pointer, while M. Kuzminskas made second team’s three-pointer. At the start Lithuanians had comfortable lead (10:2). Soon Marekas Blaževičius made his debut in the official game (12:4). After Deividas Gailius’ points Lithuanians were 7 points ahead (16:9). However, the Danes responded with a few three-pointers in a row and the opponents took the lead (20:21). M. Blaževičius finished the quarter with two free throws that returned the lead back to Lithuanians (22:21).
Lithuanians started the second quarter with a 11:0 run (33:21). Later this quarter Regimantas Miniotas scored his first points wearing national team jersey. However, the Danish basketball players got back into the game quickly (33:28) L. Birutis scored two points into his own basket (38:32). Luckily, T. Dimša made two consecutive three-pointers (44:35). After first half of the game Lithuanians had a comfortable lead (46:38).
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After a long break, guests from Denmark showed more aggressive and physical basketball (48:45). A big problem for Lithuanians was Gabriel Lunndberg (50:48). After Jonas Mačiulis’ technical foul, the Danish team took the lead (50:51). The battle went on point by point (52:51, 52:53, 54:53, 54:55, 57:57). Danes finished the quarter better and after 30 minutes the Lithuanian national team was behind – 59:60.
At the beginning of the decisive quarter, the Danes gained a record lead (59:64), but M. Kalnietis and D. Gailius returned a slight advantage to the Lithuanian team by making two three-pointers (65:64). M. Kalnietis was awarded of an unsportsmanlike foul (65:66). The Danish national team took full control of the game. In the final minutes Lithuanians had an awful run by committing multiple turnovers in a row (67:73, 3 minutes left). Good offensive plays by R. Miniotas and D. Gailius increased the competitiveness (71:73). After a few episodes, Kalnietis created a minimal advantage for Lithuanians (74:73, 1:30 minutes left). The opponents unfortunately had been awarded with two free throws (74:76). However experienced veteran J. Mačiulis hit very challenging shot and re-established the balance on the scoreboard (76:76, 29 seconds left).
However, opponents’ leader G. Lundberg (28 points) could not be guarded and scored difficult layup (76:78, 18 seconds left). M. Kalnietis was trusted with the last shot for the Lithuanians, however, it did not go in and, therefore, the Danes were able to secure the victory with the result – 76:80.