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London Olympics 2012: Why Lithuania Just Made Their Mark on World Basketball

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04:  Kobe Bryant #10 of United States drives to the basket against Simas Jasaitis #10 of Lithuania during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Basketball Arena on August 4, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
George HalimCorrespondent IIAugust 4, 2012

The 2012 London Olympics have been filled with upsets, heartbreak and records (all forever Olympic regularities). But the highlight today is Lithuania. They just proved something to the entire basketball world: they're very good at their game, and although they lost 99-94, they flourished in one critical area.

They didn't go away. 

If you witnessed Lithuania versus Team USA today, you saw the Lithuanians expose many flaws in a USA basketball team that essentially depended on talent to win basketball games.

Lithuania doesn't have an NBA MVP, scoring leader, or rookie of the year. What they do have is a fundamental grasp of how basketball is played.

Make free throws, take easy shots, play good defense. Repeat. 

I can't count the number of times the Americans sprinted up the court with the ball, trying to score quick baskets for no apparent reason. 

That isn't good basketball—plain and simple. On another note, the USA shot a poor percentage. They made just 10-of-33 three-point attempts and 19-of-31 free throws.

Don't get me wrong, that win against Nigeria was tremendous, but lightning never strikes the same place twice. 

The USA needs to learn how to play under pressure, and they barely did it against a Lithuanian squad that knew how to shoot, pass, run the court, move the ball, drive to the hoop and play as a team.

This a defining moment in international basketball, because it proved to all of us that if you play the game right, it doesn't matter how many superstars you have. All that matters is how many shots you make, regardless of who takes them. 

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