Lithuania get revenge over Belgium

Eimantas Bendžius

On Sunday (November 29), the Lithuanian national team played Belgium in the second round of Group C of the EuroBasket 2022 qualifiers, beating its rivals by 13 points 84:71 (20:15, 29:21, 18:15, 17:20). Lithuanian men’s basketball team got the revenge over Belgium. They have lost to Belgium in the first round of the qualification tournament. In the first round of the tournament, the Belgians beat Lithuanians by a huge margin (86:65, +21 points). In the first match in Vilnius on Friday (November 27), the Lithuanians unexpectedly lost to Denmark (76:80). The starting five of the Lithuanian national team: Mantas Kalnietis, Tomas Dimša, Deividas Gailius, Eimantas Bendžius and Laurynas Birutis. Laurynas Birutis opened the game and scored first points (2:0). Two three-pointers scored by Eimantas Bendžius, a physical layup by Mantas Kalnietis and dunk by Laurynas Birutis allowed the Lithuanians to have a great start (14:4). After timeout, the Belgians scored 6 consecutive points and Darius Maskoliūnas stoped the game for another timeout (14:10). The unsuccessful run in the defense was stopped by Mindaugas Kuzminskas’ two pointer and Jonas Mačiulis added two three throws (18:10). Later that quarter, Martinas Echodas scored a semi-hook and Lithuanians had 8-point lead (20:12). After the first 10 minutes, Lithuania led the way – 20:15.

Belgians opened the second quarter with a quick basket (20:17), but Jonas Mačiulis also answered with one of his two-pointers (22:17). Laurynas Birutis, who was stopped by an unsportsmanlike foul, not only hit both three throws, but also added highlight dunk (26:17). Mindaugas Girdžiūnas, who came off the bench, scored two three points in a row (34:26). Arnas Velička’s two and M. Kuzminskas’ four made free throws gave the Lithuanians double digit lead (42:32). The only way opponents could stop Mindaugas Kuzminskas was by fouling him (44:34). After his three throws M. Kuzminskas made deep three-pointer (47:36). Martynas Echodas closed the first half with powerful dunk and increased the lead to 13 points – 49:36. Tomas Dimša and Laurynas Birutis started the third quarter with points from the charity stripe, while Mantas Kalnietis scored a mid-range shot (54:36). After Eimantas Bendžius’ three-pointer difference increased to 18 points (57:39).

After, Belgians had a successful 5:0 run and narrowed the gap to 13 points (57:44). Mindaugas Girdžiūnas added two three throws (59:44), and Jonas Mačiulis scored an and-one, however, he did not convert the three throw (61:47). Regimantas Miniotas scored his first points in the match (63:49). Lithuanians had a hard time stopping Retin Obasohan (63:51). Jonas Mačiulis closed the third quarter in a fashion with a quarter back pass from the baseline to the baseline. Eimantas Bendžius secured the assist for Mačiulis by making an easy layup with the buzzer (67:51).

Jonas Mačiulis started the decisive quarter with a three-pointer (70:51), soon Eimantas Bendžius added another three points from deep (73:54). Laurynas Birutis was dominating the paint (77:57). After Arnas Velička’s drive in, the Lithuanians had a record 22-point game lead (79:57, 6 minutes left).However, Belgians came back into the game (82:67). Lithuanians won the game by 13 points with the final result 84:71.

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