Lithuania Defeats the United States
Sarunas Jasikevicius former Pennsylvania/Maryland All Star scores 28 to lead Lithuania
Saturday, August 21, 2004
PA vs. Maryland Shootout Alumni Sarunas Jasikevicius lights up the USA for 28 points. Sarunas is from Solanco High School and he was scouted out by the University of Maryland staff during the day at PA vs. Maryland activities and a phone call was made to Gary Williams who made it up for the final game of the day! The rest is history. That PA/MD All-Star game took place at Cumberland Valley High School.
|ATHENS, Greece -- Passed over by every NBA team
and known mostly for his last-second miss in Sydney, a Lithuanian guard
finally made a name for himself:
Sarunas Jasikevicius, whose off-target 3-pointer kept his team from pulling off the biggest upset of the 2000 Games, didn't miss when it counted Saturday night in a thrilling 94-90 victory against the United States.
He scored 28 points and hit three in a row from behind the arc as the
fourth quarter wound down, including a rare four-point play that put his
team ahead to stay.
The Americans gave their best all-around performance of the Olympics and
led for most of the game, but they missed 11 of 33 foul shots to allow
Lithuania to stay close.
Iverson and their teammates still qualified for the quarterfinals when
Angola lost 88-56 to Greece in Saturday's nightcap. Their opponent will be
determined by the results of Monday's games.
Back in Lithuania, fireworks thundered above the capital, Vilnius, after the game, and cheering fans poured into the streets, singing and waving flags.
For Jasikevicius, the victory also brought a measure of satisfaction against the American basketball establishment. In a league filling up with foreigners, the NBA missed one in its own back yard, playing at Maryland.
"I was a free agent in Europe, and it never came -- any offers. They talked about they were interested, but there weren't even any minimum offers," Jasikevicius said. "So I think I'm just not a player for the NBA, because these guys know what they're doing.
"If 30 teams think a player cannot play, I cannot play."
In the fourth quarter, Lithuania went 10-for-10 from the line before Jasikevicius was fouled by Lamar Odom on a 3-pointer with 2:47 left, shooting a satisfied look Odom's way and then making the foul shot.
"I just looked at him because he was hollering and screaming before when
he was playing defense," Jasikevicius said.
Jefferson returned to the starting lineup and led the U.S. team with 20
points. Duncan added 16.
"We're better than this," he added, "I totally believe we're getting better and we should have won this game."
The Americans found ways to penetrate the zone defense and looked as crisp as they have since coming together in training camp late last month.
The Lithuanians hit six of their first seven shots and nine of 12, but
they committed 10 turnovers in the first quarter. Dwyane Wade's steal and
dunk gave the U.S. team its first lead, 24-22, and three of Lithuania's top
big men were in foul trouble before the second quarter began.
Lithuania trailed just 69-67 after three quarters and tied it on the
first possession of the fourth. Neither team led by more than two until
Iverson hit a 15-footer, Jasikevicius missed a rushed 3-pointer and Iverson
sank a 3 from the left wing to make it 79-75 with 4:55 left.
"You know, Sydney was four years ago," he said. "The shot in Sydney, I keep saying, never had a chance to go in."
Lithuania assistant coach Donn Nelson, president of basketball operations for the Dallas Mavericks, wasn't on the sideline for the game. After Lithuania's close call against the United States in Sydney, he said he'd never coach another game against his home country