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White Men Can't Jump?

I've been really enjoying what I can catch of the Olympics, but am now getting really excited about events I did not get to see - the games so far of the Lithuanian men's basketball team. 

This morning Lithuania beat China to win a spot in the semifinals, which means for sure a chance to play in a medal game. (Whether they can beat world champion Spain on Friday, will determine whether they play for Gold/Silver, or for Bronze). The team was not a medal favorite at the outset this time around, but is a perennial contender. They were 4th in Athens, and have three bronze medals since 1992 (the first year Lithuania competed since WW2). Lithuanian stars were also the core of the Soviet team that won the gold medal in 1988.

Oh, and an amusing little tidbit...Jonas Kazlauskas, coach of the China team, criticized the tactics of the Lithuanian team, which chose to double and triple team 7' 5" Chinese star Yao Ming. No, he's not Chinese...how did you guess? He's Lithuanian.

I just think it is too cool that a country of 3.5 million can excel consistently at a sport that is quite popular in much, much bigger countries! It's one of those fun little things about the Olympics.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 20th, 2008 08:30 pm (UTC)
I'm glad the NBA stars aren't acting like total jerks this Olympics - at least I don't think they are. Are there some Lithuanians who regularly play in the NBA?
Aug. 20th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
Yes, there are. Linas Kleiza plays for the Denver Nuggets (and was a Mizzou Tiger, RAH!). It is his third year in the NBA. And possibly the best Lithuanian player in the world today is Cleveland's starting center, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who is not on the Olympic team. The Cavs will not let him play for Lithuania because he is plagued by injury problems as it is, without playing year-round. Several of the players play for elite European pro teams, as well.
Aug. 20th, 2008 08:34 pm (UTC)
I've only caught glimpses of the basketball but Yay! for Lithuania! I'm glad they beat China!
Aug. 20th, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)
I'll be interested to hear my sister's reports. She is actually IN Lithuania right now, vacationing with her family...so she probably got to watch the game on a large screen in some crowded venue full of crazed Lithuanian fans.
Aug. 21st, 2008 09:39 pm (UTC)
well, at the time of the china-lithuania game, our sister was in Juodkrante visiting with some relatives out there. juodkrante isn't exactly the most happening place (though klaipeda is close by, but they don't have a car), so they may have not caught it. hopefully the catch spain vs. lithuania. i'm already stressed about it.
Aug. 21st, 2008 10:41 pm (UTC)
Do you happen to know when (US Eastern time) it starts? I wanna watch!!!
Aug. 21st, 2008 10:52 pm (UTC)
8am, US eastern time, i believe... nice and in the middle of waking up and getting to work, though for you it might work nicer. :)
Aug. 20th, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)
Hooray for Lithuania! (Though, I'll have to cheer for the US, if they play against one another.)

I think it's interesting that there are so many connections for Olympic athletes in different countries. It's not just the economy that's global...I was watching the basketball game between the US and Spain on CBC* a while back (it was one of the first played) and the announcer said that the game was of interest to Canadians because one of the players on the American team and one of the players on the Spanish team each played for the Toronto Raptors. The announcer suggested people root for their favorite Raptor. *lol*

*I get CBC because I live on the US-Canada border.
Aug. 20th, 2008 08:52 pm (UTC)
I will forgive you for rooting for the US... because I think it is most likely that if those two teams meet, it will be in the gold medal game. So losing would still mean the first silver medal for Lithuania! (Though, Lithuania did end up 4th in Athens because they lost the bronze medal game to the US...)
Aug. 21st, 2008 12:30 pm (UTC)
I hope Lithuania does well Zara. I have enjoyed watching as much of the olympics as I can. The only basketball game I watched was where America went up against China.
Aug. 22nd, 2008 01:07 am (UTC)
btw, you should find a medal tracker for lithuania. it's not basketball, but it is exciting that the country has earned 5 medals so far. 2 of them from a single event.
Aug. 22nd, 2008 02:34 am (UTC)
Yeah, "modern" pentathlon, in which they went 2 and 3. What every modern man needs to be able to do:
Shoot a pistol
Ride a horse
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )