Lithuania beats China 78-67 to reach quarters

ISTANBUL (AP)—Linas Kleiza(notes) scored 30 points Tuesday to help send Lithuania into the quarterfinals of the basketball world championship with a 78-67 win over China.

Lithuania won its sixth straight game in the tournament after going undefeated in group play, but had to recover from a poor start this time.

China, which advanced despite winning just one group game, jumped out to a 16-5 lead in the first four minutes.

That “kind of knocked us back on our heels a little bit,” Lithuania guard Martynas Pocius said, but his team responded with a 16-2 run in the second quarter to take a 36-31 lead.

Lithuania coach Kestutis Kemzura said the turnaround came after he told the team during a timeout to focus on scoring inside rather than from long range.

“Don’t try to make it a 3-point contest, keep attacking the paint. Basically that’s what I said in not such a nice way as I’m saying now,” Kemzura said.

Lithuania never trailed in the second half, using a 16-3 run to take a 64-51 lead going into the fourth quarter.

China came within 67-62 with 5:10 left, but Kleiza scored 10 unanswered points to put the game away.

“He was a big, big factor as always but especially today,” Kemzura said of Kleiza, who also had nine rebounds.

Liu Wei scored 21 points for China, while Yi Jianlian(notes) of the Washington Wizards had 11. Jianlian, the tournament’s leading rebounder, added 12 rebounds, but Lithuania finished with a 50-30 advantage on the boards.

“If you make a mistake and get out of position, they can make a very good basketball read and punish you,” China coach Bob Donewald. “We didn’t have the legs under us to make shots down the stretch,” Donewald said.

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Updated Sep 7, 2:39 pm EDT


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