ISTANBUL (2010 FIBA World Championship) – Linas Kleiza scored 13 of his game-high 30 points in the fourth quarter as Lithuania held off a late China rally for a 78-67 win and booked their place in the Quarter-Finals of the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
Kestutis Kemzura’s team will face Argentina in the Quarter Finals.
Lithuania led 64-51 to start the fourth quarter but Yi Jianlian, Liu Wei and Wang Zhizhi accounted for all the points in an 11-3 spurt that saw China get within 67-62 with five minutes remaining.
However, Kleiza made sure they did not get any closer by hitting timely buckets down the stretch.
The Chinese got off to a good start thanks to some balanced scoring and made the most of their opponents’ early turnovers to build a 16-5 lead on Liu Wei’s three-pointer.
The Lithuanians turned the ball over five times in the game’s first 6:15. They eventually settled down and, riding the scoring punch of Kleiza and Simas Jaisatis, cut the deficit to 19-17 on the latter’s lay-up in the final minute of the first period. Liu Wei knocked down a jumper just before the buzzer for a 22-17 lead.
Bob Donewald Jr’s charges stretched their advantage back up to nine, 29-20, early in the second period as Yi scored four quick points and Sue Yue connected from long range.
Lithuania fought back and a 10-0 run spearheaded by Mantas Kalnietis saw them go in front 36-31.
Zhou Peng ended a Chinese scoring drought that went on for 2:45 and Wei again beat the buzzer in the final seconds of the period, cutting the deficit to 43-40 at the break.
Yi tied the game at 45 early in the second half, before Martynas Gecevicius and Wei traded three-point baskets.
Lithuania then went on an 11-0 run, capped by a Martinas Pocius basket, for a 59-48 cushion. Paulius Jankunas converted a three-point play and Pocius’ reverse lay-up made it 64-51 heading into the final frame.
Kestutis Kemzura (Lithuania head coach): “At this stage there are no easy games. It doesn't matter the score or the difference in the score. China played great, and they made it very difficult for us. What we wanted to do, they did to us: they jumped on us. I thought some of our players felt tense, it is the first time they have played at such a level. Our leader, Linas Kleiza played just a great game, he was a big big factor.”
Bob Donewald Jr (China head coach): “I thought my guys played their hearts out, stuck to the game plan, but we just wore out. The physicality of a very good basketball team wore us out. This was great for our basketball team, I am very proud of my group. We have some Asian games that are very important to this group, and this gives us belief that maybe we can compete and maybe win can win this thing.”