Lithuania’s dream of winning the European title in front of their countrymen ended on Wednesday after absorbing a tough 67-65 upset defeat against Macedonia in the quarterfinals of the EuroBasket Men 2011 in Kaunas, Lithuania.
Lithuania looked to be in full control of the game as they managed to resist multiple threats from Macedonia for the entire game, but not until they made a costly mistake down the stretch.
Leading by two points, 65-63, with 17 seconds left in the game, Darius Songaila had a huge defensive rebound off a miss layup from Macedonia, but the former NBA center threw the ball away.
Macedonia’s Vojdan Stojanovski found an open Vlado Ilievski, who knocked down a huge three-pointer that gave Macedonia a one-point lead with 11 seconds left in the game. Lithuania had a chance to regain the lead, but Simas Jasaitis missed a jumper, forcing them to foul Ilievski, who knocked down the first free throw and intentionally missed the second one to escape with the win.
“I think we showed that we are one of the best teams in Europe even though many thought our run was down to luck,” said Macedonia coach Marin Dokuzovski. “We deserve to be here. We played without pressure; we played very free and with great tempo.”
Bo McCalebb led Macedonia with his 23 points, while Stojanovski and Ilievski added 15 and 13 points respectively for Macedonia, who will face defending champions Spain in the semifinals.
Darius Songaila, on the other hand, led Lithuania with his 12 points, while Mantas Kalnietis added nine points and nine rebounds, but it was not enough as they absorbed one of the biggest upsets in EuroBasket history.
“We didn’t play our game,” Kalnietis said. “We didn’t play how we wanted and how we could have played. They deserved to win. We feel terrible now but we have to be a team again and try to win our next game. We will forget this terrible game and fight tomorrow.”
Lithuania will face Slovenia, who earlier loss to Spain, for the fifth to eighth classification phase in which the fifth-placer will be given a spot in next year’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.