NBA stars Jonas Valančiūnas and Donatas Motiejūnas out rebounded and scored their opponents in the opening minutes; however these were men scooped out of the respective Australian and New Zealand leagues.
Late three point shots by Martynas Pocius and Darjuš Lavrinovič would be enough to hand Lithuania a 23:9 lead at the first break.
A freak collision would see Jonas Mačiulis restricted from the court by this stage and requiring stitches.
Accuracy from the Tall Black’s captain Mika Vukona and 20-year-old Isaac Fotu would see New Zealand score 5:0 in the final few minutes before the main break.
If you had thought Simas Jasaitis had endured a tough tournament, scoring five points from his previous four matches, then the third term would add some salt into his wombs.
Two minutes into the third term, the 32-year-old veteran would receive an off the play elbow from New Zealand teenager Tai Webster; ending Jasaitis’ game who was sent to the hospital with a fractured rib.
Accuracy from Thomas Abercrombie and Kirk Penney then enabled the Tall Black’s to trim Lithuania’s lead at the final break; forcing Jonas Kazlauskas to reassess his side’s structure.
While Lithuanian fans would voice their outrage toward Tai Webster it would be his older brother, Chris, who would convert two straight three-point-shots; bringing his tally to 20 and handing his nation a 59:58 lead.
Enter Valančiūnas who would score eight points over the following few minutes, four of those from the three point line.
Motiejūnas then stepped up to the plate to shoot 2/2 from the line; handing Lithuania a 69:65 lead with 90 seconds remaining.
In a case of the walking wounded Jonas Mačiulis stepped up to the plate to land another trademark three point shot, by the time he and Pocius added three consecutive free throws Lithuania would be home.
Lithuania will now play off against fellow 2010 FIBA World Cup podium finisher Turkey after the European nation held off Australia 75:74.
If successful then Lithuania will meet the winner of Slovenia v USA for a spot in the Gold medal match.
Jonas Valančiūnas (22), Martynas Pocius (11), Darjuš Lavrinovič (10).
Jonas Valančiūnas (13), Donatas Motiejūnas (8).
Renaldas Seibutis (5), Šarūnas Vasiliauskas (3), Adas Juškevičius (3).
New Zealand 1
3 points FG:
New Zealand 27.3%
2 points FG:
New Zealand 50%
New Zealand 76.5%
New Zealand 1
New Zealand 14
New Zealand 7
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