Good, but not enough
Posted by Ricky - Sixers4guidos on September 9, 2007
Ok, a 74-79 loss vs Lithuania is somehow honourable, since everybody picked Lithuania at least as semifinal bound before the competition. I say: yes, it is, but we could have won this game.
While it’s not suprising that we were simply overwhelmed under the boards (44-29), with guard Siskauskas (6 rebounds), Nuggets forward Linas Kleiza (9) and Ksistof Lavrinovic (5) whipping our centers (?), it’s disappointing that we forgot to run plays for Belinelli and Bargnani down the stretch, when they were hot and could have given us a chance to win the game.
Golden State Warriors’ rookie scored 9 consecutive points in the fourth quarter only to be forgotten in the last minutes, while Bargnani had another solid game (15 + 7, leading us in both categories) but wasn’t feeded enough at the end, when Italy collected silly turnovers and missed shots. So we couldn’t cut the 74-77 deficit with 50” to go.
With star Sarunas Jasikevicius (yes, at international level the 12th man of the Golden State Warriors is a star…) pretty quiet with 13 points, it was “italian” Rimantas Kaukenas to beat the country he plays in. The boxscore of the Montepaschi Siena’s guard is impressive indeed, and shows who the MVP was.
Of course the 16 offensive rebounds (!!) were a huge factor, giving Lithuania many second chances and 19 points off, but this is no news, we are aware of our troubles under the boards since the beginning of the Euro 2007.
With Italy down one and 2 seconds to go, Siskauskas missed a couple of free throws but Kleiza got the rebound to put an end to the whole story. When you can’t box out a player after a free throw you don’t deserve to win, simple as that.
So it was a close game, again, and another loss. This time vs the best team we faced until now.
The amazing thing is that Italy’s record is currently 1-3, but we still have a chance to advance. We have to beat Turkey on Monday and Germany later.
I just hope that tis group will not break up. Belinelli refused to talk to reporters after the game, clerly pissed off for being misused (or NOT USED) after that nice stretch, and Bargnani echoed his feelings saying that Italy made “terrible offensive choices” in the final minutes.
“On defense they were switching player at every play, creating many mismatches, so we simply had to give the ball to who could take advantage of it”. This, in case you didn’t realize, means: “me”…
It didn’t happen, and we lost. But I like this attitude. Not cocky but self confident. Next time give the ball to the young fella.