Lithuania Topples Italy
Lithuania 71, Italy 68
SAITAMA, Japan, Aug. 26 (Ticker) -- The free-throw shooting gods were smiling down on Lithuania.
Italy missed six foul shots in the final eight seconds to crash out of the World Championships with a 71-68 defeat to Lithuania in the round of 16.
The Italians (4-2), who advanced out of Group D despite needing a wild card to play in the tournament, had a chance to reach the quarterfinals but self-destructed at the end.
Holding a 71-68 lead with 2.8 seconds remaining, Lithuania fouled Marco Belinelli so Italy could not attempt a potential game-tying 3-pointer.
Belinelli missed both, but teammate Gianluca Basile grabbed the long rebound and attempted to launch a shot from the arc before time expired. As he did, he was fouled by Arvydas Macijauskas, one of the most experienced players on Lithuania.
Macijauskas tried to put a hand in Basile's face but made contact with him with six-tenths of a second to play, giving the 20-year-old a chance to tie the game if he could make three shots from the line.
Basile was short on the first and then missed the next two to preserve the three-point victory for Lithuania (4-2), which will face either Spain or Serbia & Montenegro in the next round.
"We've got ourselves to blame," Italy coach Carlo Recalcati said. "Today we have seen all our inexperience and hence, since our trip to Japan was supposed to give us experience, I hope my players will learn something from it. It proves that I wasn't wrong when I said that this is an inexperienced side.
"We have thrown away so much. We have given away our crucial rebounds to our rivals. We have shot our free throws poorly and we have not taken advantage of the turnovers (by Lithuania)."
Indeed, after Belinelli could only make 1-of-2 from the line with eight seconds to play, Italy decided to foul Linas Kleiza of the Denver Nuggets.
Kleiza missed both attempts, but Italy failed to box out and Darius Songaila of the Washington Wizards grabbed the rebound. He was fouled and also missed both shots despite having been 8-of-8 from the line to that point.
Yet again, Italy was unable to box out and this time, it was very costly as Darius Lavrinovic reached in to tap the ball up and in for the 71-68 lead.
Italy ended up shooting 6-of-19 from the line, far below its 48 percent (10-of-21) shooting from 3-point range. Before Saturday, Belinelli had made 14-of-16 free throws and the experienced Basile had hit 8-of-9.
"I don't think Belinelli has had his best game of the tournament today," Recalcati said.
Mason Rocca and Fabio Di Bella each had 15 points for the Italians. Macijauskas scored 15 to lead Lithuania, which shot just 19-of-30 from the line and outrebounded Italy, 40-35.