Sep 9, 2010, 9:31 PM EDT
Sadly, the Lithuanians will not be breaking out the Grateful Dead tie-dye uniforms Saturday.
They will not be rolling over for the USA, either.
Lithuania advanced to the semifinals of the World Championships, routing Argentina 104-85.
A lot of people probably thought with Argentina gone this should be easier for the USA, but Lithuania has been anything but an easy out this tournament — they are undefeated. They have defeated Spain and Argentina.
Former Nugget, soon to be Raptor Linas Kleiza has been the leader of this team — dropping 30 on China last round then 17 on Argentina – showing off a more rounded game than he was allowed to in Denver. But more on him tomorrow. (That’s called a tease in the business.)
Lithuania fell to the United States in a warmup game for the World Championships, 77-61. It was a game where the Lithuanians were very physical with the USA and it was close for a half, with the Americans shooting just 25 percent. It was a combo of poor play from the USA as they adjusted to a more physical brand of basketball, and the fact that Lithuania isn’t bad.
And they are playing better, with more confidence now than they did then. Russell Westbrook (12 points), Rudy Gay (14) and the quickness of the Americans eventually wore down Lithuania. It probably will again. But like we said, every step on the road to a title gets more challenging, and this will fit that mold.