|19 July 2011|
U20 European Championship
In a tough battle in Group G Croatia celebrated a key 82-76 win over Lithuania to get some breathing air in the U20 European Championship.
For Croatia it's the first win in the 13-16 Classification Round, and they stand on a 1-1 record tied with Austria and behind Serbia.
Lithuania find themselves in a difficult situation with a 0-2 balance, and a view to the Division B championship in 2012.
Domagoj Bubalo topped the day for Croatia with 25 points, Roko Rogic had 14 with six assists and five boards and Ivan Batur finished with 13.
Saulius Kulvietis was once again the top scorer of Lithuania with 17 points, most of them in the first half. Dovydas Redikas added 14 points and seven assists while Gilvydas Biruta had 13.
Croatia climbed out of trouble thanks to a big fourth quarter 18-4 run that caught Lithuania off guard.
Rogic from the arc and Bubalo around the rim put Croatia up by seven, 19-12 but saw Kulvietis hit twice in a row from the arc to bring Lithuania close enough.
Redikas and Biruta were in charge of lifting Lithuania to a 33-37 lead midway in the second quarter but Rogic with a great jumper set the half time score on 44-43.
Giedrius Staniulis scored three lay-ups in a row deep in the third to and another rim attack by Lithuania set the score on 62-69 with the first bucket of the last period.
The same Staniulis also set the biggest lead of the day for Lithuania from the free throw line, 64-72 with seven minutes to play but that's when his team went to sleep.
Boris Barac scored three times in a row from the arc and put his team on top again with less than four minutes to play.
Bubalo's dunk and block sent out a clear message as Croatia held a 77-73 lead.
Biruta put more points on the Lithuanian board but helped Bubalo complete a three point play at the other end and set a four point lead with 30 seconds to play, 80-76.
Yet if Lithuania still had a chance to come back, Redikas missed twice from the line and Batur did the opposite to secure Croatia's win.
Tomorrow Croatia will take on Serbia in a classic battle while Lithuania and Austria will face each other in a less classical one.