“I’m happy for the win, the second half was better, but I’m happy we won. We have good opportunities to participate in the World Championship”, said 45-year-old K. Maksvytis after the match.
The turning point of the match took place in the third quarter, when the Lithuanians started making accurate three-point shots, while the opponents were stuck in the home team’s penalty area. The Lithuanians, supported by the noisy “Žalgiris” arena, won the third quarter with the result 32:15, which allowed them to accumulate a solid advantage of 71:51.
The decisive half became a formality, which the Lithuanians managed without major problems.
This was the last rehearsal of K. Maksvytis’ students before the European Championship, to which the Lithuanians will leave on Monday. After this match, the strategist announced that Gytis Masiulis will not go to the tournament.
“We thanked G. Masiulis. We thought for a long time, but we decided that we will take those players who played more stable during the whole preparation and deserved more. In this case, Mindaugas Kuzminkas fit in very well after his injury, Martynas Echodas also proved that he can play hard. The same Eigirdas Žukauskas, regardless of this match, also looked a little better. All 13 players were worthy, it’s a pity, but it was necessary to choose something”, explained K. Maksvytis.
In group B, the matches of which will be played in Cologne (Germany), the Lithuanians will play against the hosts, Slovenians, Bosnians, Hungarians and French. Our team will play their first match in the tournament on September 1, when they will face the Slovenians.
– Coaches, two different sides of the match. What caused this?K. Maksvytis was asked.
– I think you noticed correctly – energy and defense. We adjusted the defense, Arnas Butkevičius did a good job stopping their main offensive player, who was rampant in the first half. Thanks to good defense, I think we got the upper hand.
– After the match, Arnas Butkevičius said that there is sometimes a lack of communication in the defense, how much anxiety is still in your mind about these things?
– Well, the main situations are with the throwing big player, who worries. We don’t want to change immediately, this is the cheapest option. We tried to play a safer defense at first, but we got three points straight away.
That was our risk, but I’m more concerned that we got breakouts as well. I can’t say I like everything today, but the pick and roll defense is definitely not good.
– How do you assess the preparation and what else should be improved?
– It’s good that we won all the victories. But the game itself – I’m not completely satisfied with the style we played. Well, the result is satisfactory. The aspects are the same – to be tougher in defense. It is more difficult for us to play against high-flyers, the first opponent will be like that.
We finished all healthy, which I consider good.
– Eigirdas Žukauskas is back after injury. Does he still feel health problems?
– He does not feel any health problems. Played, but you can see he didn’t come back to his best. But that was to be expected.
– Will the starting five be modeled after the rivals?
– I think it will be modeled. They will play somewhat the same, we will take into account the upcoming duels. If necessary, JV with D. Sabonis will not play in the beginning. But for now we have it stable, of course it can change.
– Arnas Butkevičius had a good section. What does this man do when he gets off the bench?
– Can give energy, defense, undercuts that we lack. Arnas does not require exceptional combinations, he finds his role, does not require the ball. Such players are needed to maintain the balance.