After a lazy first half Nene and his Brazil teammates couldn’t finish their comeback against Lithuania.
Story of the Match
A poor first half performance proved to be too much for Olympic games hosts Brazil who the Rockets Nene plays for. Lithuania mounted a 29 point advantage with great performances from forwards Mantas Kalnietis and Paulius Jankunas.
A highly competitive affair in the first 7 minutes with the teams trading baskets, the game started getting off track for Team Brazil when Lithuania went on a 17-5 run to end the quarter opening up a 10 point margin.
The second quarter went from bad to worse as Brazil only scored 2 points in the first 4 minutes while Lithuania scorched the Olympic hosts from distance. By the end of the 1st half Lithuania led Brazil 58-29 as Nene, Cristiano Felicio and Marquinhos abused their rights of losing shots from the charity stripe.
With fans completely disheartened in the beginning of the second half at Carioca Arena hoping for some kind of answer from the home team Ruben Magnano’s team returned in the second half with a completely new attitude.
Behind Leandro Barbosa’s 13 points the Brazilian team rallied back to cut the lead to 18 with Lithuania surviving mostly due to Kalnietis plays and score. Chicago Bulls’ Cristiano Felicio subbed in for Nene Hilario at Center and provided a lot of consistency to Brazil’s post defense.
Despite still trailing by 18 points, Brazilian fans were given hope and started to light up the atmosphere for an incredible fourth quarter.
Cheered forward by the massive crowd at Carioca Arena the Brazilian team once again answered the call and coupled with Lithuania’s biggest star Jonas Valanciunas out for the most part of the fourth quarter (until eventually being fouled out) Houston Rockets’ latest signing Nene Hilario took the opportunity and bullied youngster Domantas Sabonis inside the paint, drawing fouls and scoring easy layups.
The Brazilian and Rockets center dropped 7 of his 11 points in the final frame.
The hosts efforts were for naught however as OKC Thunder rookie Sabonis managed to score a crucial three-point play with less than 2 minutes to go.
Despite Brazil’s defeat by Lithuania there was a sense throughout the arena that this team can still make noise in this year’s Olympic Games and hopefully go all the way for a medal and a place on the podium.
Stats: 14 Points, 3 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 1 Steal.
Despite Leandro Barbosa’s drawing most of the praise, mainly due to his 21 points and generally spirited and uplifting performance, Utah Jazz’s point guard was by far Brazil’s top performer.
Raulzinho as he is known in Brazil led the team in the +/- statistic with +16 and trailed only Nene Hilario in efficiency with 15. His Field Goal % is miles above his teammates with 75% including being responsible for knocking down one of the only two three-point baskets of the team.
Stats: 11 Points, 8 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 1 Block
That being said Nene was the heart and soul of Brazilian’s defense against Lithuania. He solely held down Jonas Valanciunas to only 6 points and was the only respectable presence inside Brazil’s paint as he led the game in rebounds with 8 boards.
With Ruben Magnano deciding to field a small lineup featuring three guards: Marcelo Huertas, Leandro Barbosa and Alex Garcia all players under 6’5” Nene had to deal with almost every defensive responsibility and did the best he could. His strength still plays a factor and will undoubtedly be greatly appreciated by Red Nation fans in the future.
Stats: 16 Points, 8 Assists, 3 Rebounds, 1 Block
Every time Brazil crawled back a few points there it was Mantas Kalnietis to bail out the Lithuania team. Despite a great performance from Paulius Jankunas off the bench, Kalnietis with his incredible vision to find the open man and knock down the eventual jumper or three-point shot was the real difference maker.
Kalnietis led the game in efficiency with 20 and was perfect from the charity stripe, 4-for-4.
Ups and Downs
Up – Lithuania’s Free-Throws and Team Play:
While Brazil lost countless free-throws Lithuania scored over 83% of theirs. One of the key and decisive aspects of the game probably played a huge part in Brazil’s defeat.
Additionally Lithuania had 5 players scoring in double digits whereas Brazil had only 3. If Jonas Kazlauskas team can maintain this level of unity and team competitiveness they can go far!
Down – Turnovers
Mostly due to Brazil’s smoldering pressure in the second portion of the game Lithuania ended up committing too many turnovers: 17. This time the lack of focus didn’t cost Lithuania the game, however it might become a problem in the future.
Up – The Comeback
Despite falling short of the win in the end if Brazil’s team start every game with the same spirit which they ended this one then it’s very plausible that they can win the following games, regardless of opponent. With the crowd support this team can probably go further than what’s expected of them.
Down – Shooting %
Brazil lost this game mainly thanks to their inability of scoring from the free-throw line. The team knocked only 22 of 35 attempts from the charity stripe. That’s not to say that Brazil’s terrible three-point percentage didn’t play a factor as well: the Olympic hosts scored just 2 out of 14 long range shots, good for 14.3%. Awful.
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