- You can check out the moments from the game in our photo gallery.
The victory had a bitter taste to it as Robertas Javtokas went down injured in the first quarter after twisting his ankle. According to reports the Lithuanian captain’s foot ‘doesn’t look good’ but further information is still to be announced.
Lithuania started the second quarter with an 18-2 run, which gave them a big enough lead to hold of New Zealand for the entire game. After it looked like the Lithuanians had run out of steam, Martynas Pocius slammed a massive put-back dunk and Linas Kleiza beat the half-time buzzer with a long three to make it a 16-point game at 50-34.
Despite the Baltic side holding a solid lead, Kirk Penney was doing whatever he wanted with the Lithuanian defense no matter what the Lithuanian coach Kestutis Kemzura put on him. However his 37-point effort alone wasn’t enough to keep the Lithuanians from a successful start to the tournament.
Lithuanians had a lot of problems on the boards after choosing to play small with Javtokas injured. New Zealand ended up grabbing 14 more rebounds than the Lithuanians.
Lithuania: Linas Kleiza 27 (8 rebounds.),
Paulius Jankūnas 15, Jonas Mačiulis (4 assists) 14, Martynas Gecevičius and
Tomas Delininkaitis 8, Tadas Klimavičius and Mantas Kalnietis (4 assists) 6,
Simas Jasaitis 4, Martynas Pocius and Robertas Javtokas 2.
New Zealand: Kirkas Penney 37 (16/20 FT), Mika Vukona (9 rebounds) 19, Thomas Abercrombie (11 rebounds) 7, Phill Jones 6.
Kęstutis Kemzūra (head coach of Lithuania): “We played the first game against a team with character and a good team. We started the game nervously and still have a lot to improve. We couldn’t solve the Penney problem, he score 37 points. We tried different strategies putting taller players on him, but he just did his job anyway.
We played a wonderful second quarter – we got the easy points when we ran on the fast-breaks. We went to the half-time interval with a solid lead but the opponent zone defense stopped us down a little bit. We got the hang of how we needed to play against this defense after some time.
Pulling down the rebounds was our problem late in the game, we weren’t concentrated enough. The view of us allowing New Zealand four three-point attempts in one possession is still running in my head.”