|11 September 2011|
|Lithuania Head Coach Kestutis Kemzura does not plan to watch the final week of EuroBasket 2011 as a spectator|
A defeat against Germany on Sunday for Lithuania?
Lithuania coach Kestutis Kemzura won't even contemplate that possibility.
Friday's 73-67 loss to France left the tournament hosts needing a victory against Germany in Sunday's final Group E game to assure themselves of a place in the Quarter-Finals of the EuroBasket in Kaunas.
A Germany win on Sunday could break the hearts of millions of Lithuanian fans and that's something Kemzura can't bring himself to even consider.
"We are not going to leave the tournament on Sunday night," he said. "We are going to win."
Lithuania knew this EuroBasket was going to be a tough one, even with the home crowd behind them.
Group A in the First Round had tough games and it's been that way in Group E, too.
If losing to France on Friday night has brought some adversity, Kemzura believes he and his players should be able to cope because of what they have been through together.
Just last year, in the build-up to the World Championship and after a nightmarish EuroBasket 2009 in Poland, players either couldn't, or wouldn't commit to the national team.
Some were injured and others like Ramunas Siskauskas just didn't want to play.
Siskauskas, still in the prime of his career, retired at the 2008 Olympics after the team's bronze-medal game defeat to Argentina and Kemzura couldn't get him to change his mind.
Kemzura, who had coached Latvia at the EuroBasket in Poland, also didn't have Rimantas Kaukenas, Darius Songaila, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Ksistof Lavrinovic and Marijonas Petravicius.
All five have returned to the side this summer.
But there are no Linas Kleiza or Jonas Maciulis, vital members of last year's team, due to injuries.
Lithuania also lost Darjus Lavrinovic shortly before the EuroBasket and then center Petravicius early in the tournament to a lung problem.
The hosts still managed to knock off Serbia 100-90 on the opening night of Group E and pushed France to the limit before falling.
If Lithuania are to go far in this tournament, it stands to reason they will need fan-favourite Jonas Valanciunas to keep up the good work.
The young center has found great chemistry with veteran playmaker Sarunas Jasikevicius on the floor and that is exactly what Kemzura wanted.
"For Jonas to play with Sarunas (Jasikevicius) is a good combination for Lithuania," Kemzura said.
The 19-year-old Valanciunas had 18 points in the victory over Serbia while he finished with 12 points against France.
"He is young and he is still on his way," said Kemzura of Valanciunas. "He still has to learn a lot but he gives energy and has a lot of passion for the game.
"He is doing pretty good.
"He is good at pick-and-roll as he is fast and mobile."