Difficult to find a more chaotic route to the final stages than that of Lithuania, in this EuroBasket 2022. In very bad shape after their first three matches, all lost, the teammates of Jonas Valanciunas still managed to save their skins at the end of the day.
First, it was France who gave them a little helping hand, by winning against Bosnia-Herzegovina. And then, Lithuania ensured its destiny in the competition, winning successively against modest Hungary, then against this same Bosnia, in a final for fourth place, synonymous with the final qualifying seat for the next round.
Fourth in Group B, Lithuania will therefore face the first in Group A, Spain, in the 1/8 finals. A magnificent poster on paper, which still looks like a poisoned gift for Sergio Scariolo and his men… Leaders of a fairly modest Group A, the Spanish players have to struggle, as soon as they leave the group stages, with a revanchist Lithuanian team, out of the toughest group and therefore prepared for adversity.
Nothing to lose, everything to gain
In any case, Marius Grigonis is formal: Lithuania is in a comfortable position, given the conditions in which it snatched its qualification, and it will not be good to play them in the next round…
» It’s a good thing that we are seen as outsiders. Because the pressure is then not on us, but on our adversaries said the Lithuania full-back. » We take matches one after another, trying to win them all. But it’s certain: no one wants to meet us in the final stages. »
On this point, it is difficult to contradict the future player of Panathinaikos, so precious during the first round with averages of 15.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists: the position of outsider of his team is certainly a positive point, after a phase of stressful hens.
No longer really considered as a player in the tournament, Lithuania can thus hit hard, when no one expects it. But between theory and practice, there is a world, and it will be necessary, first of all, to take care of Spain, generally convincing in the first round despite a workforce less flashy than in the past.
» We still have battles to come, and a few days to prepare for them. I’m excited he concluded.