RIGA (2011 FIBA U19 World Championship) - An 18-3 scoring rout led by tournament MVP Jonas Valanciunas and Vytenis Cizauskas at the end of third quarter has killed of a courageous Serbian effort and handed the FIBA U19 World Championship gold medal to Lithuania.
With scores tied at 43 and Serbia having momentum in their favor - even without star point guard Aleksandr Cvetkovic who was spending a long period of the game watching from the bench - Lithuania's star pairing of Valanciunas and Cizauskas stepped up to the mark, claiming 11 points between them on an 18-3 scoring run that would switch a sold-out Arena Riga into party mode with a quarter still to play.
At the beginning of the game Lithuania would again take their time to settle into their work with Serbian Djordje Drenovac beginning scoring from the free three throw line. But when Valanciunas claimed his first basket of the night in the third minute of play, there would be no stopping Lithuania as the center combined with Edgaras Ulanovas to score 13 of their team's 18 first quarter points to have them ahead by five at the break.
Frustration was becoming evident amongst both Serbian players and coaching staff early in the second quarter with a number of close calls working against them and with playmaker Cvetkovic finding himself on two fouls, his court time would be limited in the build up to half time. But in his absence Serbia stepped up with Bojac Vojusevic's 'and-one' bringing the score within four points, forcing a Lithuanian side playing with a number of uncharacteristic errors to call a time out three minutes from the half. Although Valanciunas was still scoring, Serbia were limiting his rebounding opportunities and with the rest of the Lithuanian team hitting just one from nine from beyond the arc for the first half, Lithuanian Coach Kazys Maksvytis had plenty to address in one minute.
Straight after the time out Drenovac hit from outside the perimeter to bring the score within a point but with Vytenis Cizauskas hitting his jump shot on the buzzer, Lithuania would find themselves back out to seven at the half.
Similar to the first quarter, Lithuania took their time to settle back into the game in the second half as Vujosevic silenced 9000 frenzied Lithuanian fans with his jump shot tying the game at 44 after five minutes of play. But as any good leaders should, Valanciunas and Vytenis Cizauskas stepped up to the mark, with their inspired 18-3 run in the final five minutes of the quarter ultimately sealing the fate of Serbia.
As any good team should, Serbia refused to give up the fight in the final ten minutes but the 15 point deficit would simply prove too big to overcome as Valanciunas sailed to a game-high 36 points, leading his team to a deserved 18 point victory.