Lithuania marked the opening ceremony of the new Zalgiris Arena, which will be the final venue for EuroBasket, with a comfortable victory against the formidable Spanish team in Kaunas. Lithuanians defeated the defending European champions 88-76 (25-19, 25-14, 15-25, 23-18) in front of 15,000 spectators.
The hosts dominated from the get-go and had built up a 20-point lead in the third quarter (55-25), but the game entirely changed after Marc Gasol brought down the captain of the Lithuanian team Robertas Javtokas, who had to leave the game and will miss a week of practice.
Spain went on a 15-5 run, which shrunk the Lithuanian lead to five points at 65-60, but it was as close as the visitors got to the rather impressive Lithuanian side today, as the hosts got back their double-digit lead and cruised to an easy victory.
It was the second game between the two teams and Spain won the first encounter in Madrid 90-78, but Lithuanians managed to answer with a victory in Kaunas. Both of the teams will meet in Group A of EuroBasket.
Mantas Kalnietis led the Lithuanians in scoring, having collected most of his 16 points on fast breaks, Simas Jasaitis nailed 3-of-5 shots from downtown and finished the game with 13 points while Jonas Valanciunas also reached double-digits with 11 points.
Spain relied on the team’s big men on the offensive ends as Pau Gasol had a game-high 18 points and 12 rebounds, as his brother Marc Gasol added 17 points. Rudy Fernandez had 10 points and 4 steals for the Spaniards, while Juan Carolos Navarro chipped in with 9 points.