Slovenia struggles to hold off Lithuania

A few hours before entering the French team, the first shock of Group B occurred in Cologne, between Slovenia and Lithuania, and the NBA. A match to watch closely for the French fans, for the spectacle that this poster clearly promises, but also and above all for the future consequences that the outcome of this match could have on France’s classification in the group stage.

The start of the match offers a variation of style: the Slovenes start with a 5/5 behind the arc, while the Lithuanians toss close to the circle via the racket of Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas, then pocket captain Lukas Likavicius, the 8-pointer from the bench. On the Slovenian side, the CEOs are also keeping the house: quartet Luka Doncic/Goran Dragic/Jaka Blazic/Mike Tobi collects 22 points out of the 27 points scored by Slovenia.

After that, the second Slovenian knives kept the throttle (Klemen Prepelic, Vlatko Cancar) while captain Luka Doncic was on the bench. Slovenia succeeded in breaking the rhythm of the Lithuania attack, through systematic interventions from two players at the low post when Sabonis and Valanciunas received the ball.

Really good basketball

At +7 (41-34) five minutes into the first half, the Slovenes came close to the first break, but Mendujas Kusminkas and Marius Grigones came to the rescue of their team at the end of the first half, which was beginning to lose a footing. At the break there is only one possession difference (51-48).

Coming back from the locker room, we saw a general drop in speed. Both teams have strong moments in the third quarter, but fail to show consistency. For example, Slovenia competes at the start, but responds quickly and regains a 7-point lead (64-57) with a good pass from Mike Toby in particular… only to lose its spot at the end for the second time and allow Lithuania to return to -2 (69-67) After half an hour of playing.

Even the Slovenes will be very afraid at the beginning of the fourth quarter, because Lithuania, led by Domantas Sabonis who finally regained his level in the first quarter, robbed his possessions (78-73).

Doncic is back in action and… Slovenia is on top!

But the European champions have character, perhaps a little more resources and margin than their opponents. Thus, after leaders Goran Dragic and Luka Doncic returned to the field, the Slovenes found a bite. The first is in the attacking position, when the second distributes powerful passes against the Lithuanian defense which leaves much to be desired in the “catch and roll”. Finally, Money Time is easily managed by Slovenia, which imposes itself 92-85.

Despite the defeat, Lithuania has nothing to be ashamed of. Kazys Maksvytis was less powerful on paper, making it difficult for the front-runner in the competition, but simply lacked the creativity of the late game to prevail. We will certainly have to be careful of Lithuania in this group B.

The highs and lows of the meeting

Slovenia players. If Luka Doncic is clearly the leader of these Slovenian forces, she has a wide range of options in the attack. We saw it during this match, where several lieutenants were very prominent: Mike Toby with 24 points and 8 rebounds, Jaka Blasic with 14 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists, or Flatko Kankar with 11 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists . The former is the perfect partner for Luka Doncic in “pick-and-roll” because he can easily veer as wide as he can roll towards the circle, when the latter has an external shot quality which is obviously a great value besides. From the Dallas point guard, which methodically attracts the attention of many defenders and leads to many assists.

Luka Doncic and Sovereign Goran Dragic in ‘Money Time’. While Slovenia was struggling a bit at the end of the match, the two leaders returned to the field, and the “momentum” immediately swung in favor of the European champions 2017. When they play together, Slovenia is more dangerous in attack, because there are two deadly pick-and-roll holders and one-on-one. While Goran Dragic planted a decisive outside shot and throw, Luka Doncic served Mike Toby in a pick-and-roll game. Thus, in three or four possessions, a Slovenian “backland” friend put out the fire and secured victory.

Lithuanian alternatives. Nice off the bench for Mindaugas Kuzminkas (19 points, 3 rebounds), Lucas Likavicius (14 points, 5 assists) and Ignas Prazdekis (8 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block and 1 interception). While the Big Five were generally disappointing, this trio of alternatives saved the ship from sinking on several occasions. If the defeat is similar in the end, their performance still needs to be highlighted.

⛔️ Rokas Jokobaitis. Could the Barcelona leader actually lose his place in the Big Five? Worth thinking to do while the young Lithuanian drools: only two points and two assists, and +/- from -16! At the same time, Lucas Likavicius contracts with his team in a big way, with 14 points and 5 assists. A wake-up call is expected, and above all necessary, for Lithuania in the rest of the group stage.

⛔️ For Lithuania, bullet losses and regrets. If Slovenia has a lot to do during Money Time thanks to Luka Doncic and Goran Dragic, then Lithuania in general held steady throughout the match. At the start of the last quarter, Domantas Sabonis and his teammates looked very well placed to sign a “surprise”. But overall, with 16 loose balls, the Lithuanians gave the Slovenes a lot of free points and weren’t disciplined enough to hope for a win.

Slovenia shots bounce
players minimum 2 points 3 points LF About Dave early pd Ceremony Int baby CT points
Goran Dragic 23:23 5/10 3/4 0/2 2 1 3 3 4 2 2 0 19
ziga summer
Luca Rubnik
Alexig Nikolic 07:53 0/1 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0
Clement Pribelic 17:54 0/1 1/4 0/0 0 0 0 5 3 1 2 0 3
Edo Morek 10:57 1/1 0/2 0/0 0 1 1 0 3 2 1 0 2
Mike Toby 30:49 10/12 1/5 1/2 2 6 8 1 2 0 1 2 24
Jaca Blasic 26:45 3/4 2/2 2/2 0 3 3 2 3 0 0 0 14
Zigga Demick 09:11 2/3 0/0 0/0 2 1 3 0 5 1 0 0 4
Zoran Dragic 12:57 0/0 0/1 1/2 0 2 2 0 0 1 1 0 1
Flatco Kankar 25:25 2/3 2/2 1/1 1 2 3 3 0 1 1 2 11
Luka Doncic 34:46 3/6 1/8 5/8 0 6 6 10 2 3 4 1 14
Lithuania shots bounce
players minimum 2 points 3 points LF About Dave early pd Ceremony Int baby CT points
Eigirdas Zukauskas
Ignace Bradikis 15:22 2/5 1/2 1/2 2 2 4 1 3 1 2 1 8
Dumantas Sabonis 25:46 4/9 0/1 2/4 0 5 5 2 4 2 4 0 10
Rokas Jokobaitis 17:50 0/2 0/0 2/2 0 1 1 2 1 0 1 0 2
Martinas Ecudas
Jonas Valanciunas 31:06 4/9 0/1 1/2 3 9 12 0 2 0 3 1 9
Mindogas Kusminskas 22:06 5/9 3/3 0/2 1 2 3 0 1 1 1 0 19
Cristopa Zemytis
Rokas Giedraitis 12:36 1/1 1/1 0/0 1 2 3 0 1 0 0 0 5
Marius Grigonis 30:31 4/5 2/8 4/4 0 4 4 3 1 2 1 0 18
Lucas Lykavicius 22:10 4/5 1/2 3/4 0 1 1 5 5 0 3 0 14
Arnas Butkevicius 22:33 0/1 0/1 0/0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 1 0

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