By Jeff Taylor
|Jonas Valanciunas and the entire Lithuanian nation are in a state of shock after their quarter-final exit, and they have much less than 24 hours to pick up the pieces |
Classification for 4th to 8th Place | Thursday at 15:30 (14:30 CET)
The basketball-mad country of Lithuania is in a state of shock and so are the players after their 67-65 upset in Kaunas at the hands of FYR of Macedonia on Wednesday night.
However, they must pick themselves up and be ready to play Slovenia in a crucial game on Thursday.
The winners will assure themselves of a top-six finish, and also of a place in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
If Lithuania prevail, they will avoid having to go through qualifying for EuroBasket 2013, while Slovenia have their place assured in that event since they are hosting the tournament.
Slovenia played very well early in their game against Spain but ended up crashing to a heavy defeat.
The team coached by Bozidar Maljkovic can leave Lithuania feeling very good if they win against the Lithuanians.
"It's going to be a big game for us," Slovenia's Goran Dragic said.
"Hopefully then, we will go to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
"We have to play today like the first two quarters (against Spain)."
Head-to-Head: The teams have faced each other in the EuroBasket over the years on six occasions and Lithuania have won four times. In 2009, Slovenia thrashed Lithuania, 81-58.
Last Time Out: Lithuania lost to FYR of Macedonia, 67-65, and Spain thrashed Slovenia, 86-64.
Key Match-Up: Lithuania's Mantas Kalnietis v Slovenia's Zoran Dragic
Key Stat: Slovenia made three shots from long range against Spain in the first quarter but finished six of 27 while Lithuania were a mere two of 15 against the Macedonians.
X-Factor: Mirza Begic of Slovenia has been a very effective center and will need to stand tall against the Lithuanians.
Sounding Off: "We feel terrible, but we have to get back to being a team and regain our energy because tomorrow, we have a very important game," says Lithuania's Mantas Kalnietis