BallinEurope’s Lithuanian agent Skyped BiE today with two words on his mind: “Lithuania’s doom.”
“Today?” BiE countered.
“No, it already happened two days ago,” said Y. and he was off with a prescient, simple formula for success after the 23-point blowout at the hands of Argentina.
“As Lithuania, you simply do not lose by 20+, unless it better damn well be USA.”
“Maybe Argentina is that good?” countered BiE.
“Their execution was seriously impressive, with perfect ball movement, passing … but that’s probably because of poor Lithuanian defense. On pick-and-rolls, we tried to double the ball handler. They moved it to Luis Scola and then onwards shooters. Our defensive switches were too slow, and too many LTU turnovers turned into easy points.
“I have to say PG looks like the weakest or second-weakest position for us, but it’s all connected with Robertas Javtokas out. Lithuania had to play Jonas Valančiūnas- Mantas Kalnietis and Darius Songaila-Sarunas Jasikevičius duos. JV-Šarūnas only made one pick-and-roll and if you remember last year [at Eurobasket 2011], they did it numerous times. With no decent rebounding, Kalnietis was not good, not able to run the floor, and struggling in a slow offense, forcing Šaras to play more than usual [19 minutes], and he probably got tired and collected numerous turnovers [four of Lithuania’s total 16].
“It was poor coaching, I hope [Kestutis Kemzura] can make adjustments – he was in a panic against Argentina. You have to start Šaras and Valančiūnas together then, as Jonas gets his quick fouls, roll in Kalnietis with Paulius Jankūnas, Linas Kleiza, and Jonas Mačiulis at the top 3 positions just to facilitate rebounding.
“See, also, two days ago since we had to play Sarunas so much, we lost an opportunity to do what we should have done throughout most of the game: pressure Prigioni full court. He’s like, 34 [Actually he turned 35 in mid-May –Ed.] i think, and Argentina does not have good 2s to run the offense.”
And today against Nigeria?
“Lithuania has to collect their composure. Nigeria is no easy pie, as strange as it sounds. I think Lithuania wins by ~15 points – there’s simply too much LTU can do better. I’m sticking with my quarterfinal loss prediction, whether 3rd or 4th seeded.
“The problem is … Lithuania was never a great adjustment team. When they were winning, they would come in and roll everyone from start. When they sucked, they did so throughout.”
Right, then. BallinEurope’s Official Fearless Prediction™ for Lithuania-Nigeria has Lietuva by 15 points.
Meanwhile, in that hyped first-ever meeting between San Antonio greats Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker>, BiE’s already hedged with Les Bleus, so let’s say Parker’s gang wins by three in OT in today’s upset special.
BiE also has bookmakers’ odds-on favorites Spain (with minus-13 handicap) against Australia in the Marc Gasol Revenge Game; Russia (minus-14) against China; and Brazil (minus-12) against Britain covering the pointspreads.
The line on the USA-Tunisia game is a ridiculous +56 to the African side, so your guess on the New Dream Team covering is as good as BiE’s; who decides exactly 56 points, as opposed to 55 or 57 or even 56.5, say? The prognostication of course is USA in a romp.
Y. is BallinEurope’s ace-in-the-hole, the man-in-the-know in hoops-mad Lithuania. Though a sporadic contributor to the website, Y.’s straight dope, input sharp opinion and tales of Mad Vlad are invaluable to BiE.