FIBA World Cup – Lithuania vs Serbia

The first quarterfinal of the FIBA World Cup, a thriller! Throughout history, these two teams have often provided a basketball show for all tastes. That’s what happens when two nations known as “basketball countries” meet each other on big tournaments.

It’s difficult to predict what awaits us. Judging by the history and the last 5 matchups in major competitions, Lithuania leads with 3 wins to Serbia’s 2. It’s close, but it’s worth noting that Lithuania has been the one to win in the elimination rounds of the tournament, in the EuroBasket 2015 semifinals against the previously undefeated Serbia, and in the 2010 FIBA World Cup third-place match. If we judge by the form in this tournament, again, the Baltic team has shown more, mainly because Lithuania has had stronger opponents. They defeated Montenegro 91-71, Greece 92-67, and the USA 110-104, a match in which they had control from the start. Impressive and very efficient!

On the other hand, there’s Serbia, unpredictable. A team with the potential to beat anyone but also to lose unexpectedly. The match against their first stronger opponent showed that. The Italians came back from -16, capitalized on Serbia’s erratic play in the last 13 minutes, and won. The Eagles showed yesterday against the Dominican Republic that they’ve overcome the loss to Italy and authoritatively announced their readiness for the quarterfinals – 112:79. It’s important to know that the night before the Italy match, the players couldn’t sleep due to concern for their teammate Borisa Simanić, who got injured in the game against South Sudan and ended up in the hospital. It was reported yesterday that he lost a kidney. This could be an additional motivator for Serbia to approach the Lithuania game even more determined. The loss to Italy can be seen as an isolated case. In the last 13 competitive matches (EuroBasket, World Cup Qualifiers, and FIBA World Cup), with the strongest squad, Serbia has lost twice, both times to Italy, while beating Greece with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Turkey in Istanbul, in the well-known heated atmosphere.

Among all the remaining teams, Serbia has the fewest turnovers – a total of 50. Lithuania is at 67. Serbia is also the best in terms of assists, while Lithuania leads in rebounds, which could be an important factor since Serbia has occasionally shown vulnerability in offensive rebounds. Both teams are very efficient, with only the USA ahead of them. Serbia averages 100.4 points per game, while Lithuania averages 96.4. Perhaps this parameter is in favor of Lithuania because they’ve played against objectively stronger teams. However, if we look at the lineups, based on names, we could conclude that the Serbian national team is a slight favorite. The games at the World Cup shows a slightly different situation.

The previous statistics suggest an efficient game with many points. A shootout is expected, but also an exciting duel between two giants, Nikola Milutinov and Jonas Valančiūnas. The quarterfinal basketball “Thrilla in Manila.”

written by: Mladen Radosavljevic