|21 August 2011|
|Russia beat Lithuania but, perharps more importantly for coach David Blatt, forward Victor Khryapa is looking fit and stayed on the court for more than 20 minutes |
Russia spoiled the feel-good factor in Lithuania by defeating the Baltic side 88-80 in Panevezys on Friday.
In a warm-up clash for the EuroBasket, which starts on August 31, the Lithuanians went into Friday's game on the back of an impressive home triumph over Spain in the brand new 'Kauno Arena' (Kaunas Arena).
But in the game against the Spaniards, Robertas Javtokas and Darius Songaila suffered injuries and were unavailable against the Russians.
Lithuania's Ksistof Lavrinovic also did not feature against David Blatt's team.
One player who stood out in the defeat to Russia was Jonas Valanciunas, the MVP of this year's FIBA U19 World Championship in Latvia.
The 19-year-old had a game-high 16 rebounds to go with his 13 points.
Russia, meanwhile, look as good as they have been since 2007 when they won the EuroBasket gold medal in Madrid.
Timofey Mozgov had 15 points, Vitaliy Fridzon 14, Andrei Kirilenko 13 and both Alexey Shved and Andrey Vorontsevich 11 against Lithuania.
The oft-injured Viktor Khryapa also played more than 20 minutes and had nine points, five rebounds, four assists and a steal.
Khryapa had also featured in the recent two-game series against Latvia, which Russia won 2-0.
Lithuania hit back and beat Latvia, 95-75, on Saturday with Marijonas Petravicius pouring in 26 points for the winners.
One of the players who featured against Latvia was veteran big man Darjus Lavrinovic, who went into the summer carrying some knocks.
He had 13 points.
"I'm recovering but have not yet reached the best shape," he said.
"I hope that by the championship, I'll be able to do so."
Lavrinovic believes he can play much better.
"Of course I am not satisfied," he said.
"I missed a few open shots from under the basket but everything is down to fatigue.
"I hope that the future will be better."