FIBA World Cup

‘Now it’s nothing’: Ousted Lithuania rues missed chance after shocking USA

Jasmine W. Payo

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‘Now it’s nothing’: Ousted Lithuania rues missed chance after shocking USA

HEARTBREAK. Lithuanian players (from left) Deividas Sirvydis, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, and Vaidas Kariniauskas look dejected after their match against Serbia.

Lisa Marie David/REUTERS

‘For sure it was a big win, but we knew we came here to win a medal,’ says forward Tadas Sedekerskis as eliminated Lithuania fails to sustain the momentum of its dominating upset of mighty USA

MANILA, Philippines – Lithuania’s perfect run came to a heartbreaking end.

After an unbeaten campaign in the group phase – capped by a shock whipping of the all-NBA United States squad – the Lithuanians looked nowhere near their dominant form and abruptly exited the FIBA World Cup after getting mangled by Serbia in their knockout quarterfinal match. 

“It is difficult to talk right now because it was the most important game for us to go to the semifinals,” said Lithuanian forward Tadas Sedekerskis. 

“Before this game we had an amazing tournament, we won five games in a row, last game against United States.”

The cruel turnaround hit Sedekerskis, who, just two days earlier, celebrated with hIs Lithuanian teammates and fans as they basked in the glory of taking down mighty USA. 

“The game against the United States, as you can see, now it’s nothing. It’s history,” said Sedekerskis. “We don’t have any chances to fight for the medal so we knew that.”

“For sure it was a big win, but we knew we came here to win a medal,” he added. “We set our goal, the first day of our camp: We want a medal.” 

Serbia dismantled Lithuania by 19 points, 87-68, at the start of the quarterfinal round on Tuesday, September 5, at the Mall of Asia Arena. 

“It looked like they played more aggressive, they played better defense,” said the 6-foot-9 Sedekerskis. “We couldn’t get in our rhythm, and you can see the result says it all.”

But the 25-year-old player insisted they weren’t hung over by the US upset as coach Kazys Maksvytis even reminded them to keep their emotions in check.

“We respect Serbia a lot, we prepared for the game. We forgot the game very fast against the United States, but I don’t know actually what happened,” he said. 

“We didn’t think we’re good or something because we won against the United States.” 

Lithuania, the Baltic basketball powerhouse, also credited Serbia’s firepower behind NBA shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic.

“The Serbian team is an amazing team, they know how to play basketball, they have great players like Bogdanovic,” said Sedekerskis, who led Lithuania with a near double-double of 14 points and 9 rebounds against Serbia.

“So it (US win) was easy to forget. Maybe for the fans no, but for us players, I can guarantee hundred percent that we forgot that.”

For coach Maksvytis, his team lacked energy from the get-go against the world No. 6 Serbians.

“The worst game from our team. We didn’t have a chance to recover,” he said.  “Our offense was bad, of course Serbia pushed us in that situation. And off our bad offense they got cheap points, fastbreaks, three-pointers.”

“Different game, different energy from our side,” Maksvytis added. “Lack of energy, lack of focus cost us the win.” –

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Jasmine W. Payo

Jasmine joined Rappler as its sports editor in 2018 after over a decade of working as a sportswriter for a national broadsheet.