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Lithuania ousts New Zealand from World Cup

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    New Zealand's Isaac Fotu, center, and Corey Webster, right, vied for the ball against Lithuania's Darjus Lavrinovic, second left, during their Basketball World Cup round of 16 game Sunday.
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BARCELONA, Spain » Lithuania lined up to observe the Tall Blacks’ ceremonial "haka," and then went to work overpowering New Zealand with its taller inside players at the Basketball World Cup on Sunday.

Guard Corey Webster, who finished with 26 points, spurred New Zealand’s rally from 15 points down to take a one-point lead when Lithuania went scoreless for the first four minutes of the fourth quarter.

But Jonas Valanciunas answered by making four free throws and two inside baskets for the reigning bronze medalists, who slipped through with a 76-71 win. The Toronto Raptors center also pulled in 13 rebounds and blocked three shots, while guard Martynas Pocius chipped in with 11 points.

"Jonas played really well and that’s what we expected," said Lithuania coach Jonas Kazlauskas. "He has gotten stronger and has more experience. Now he respects his opponents even more and knows the price of every game."

Hawaii big man Isaac Fotu chipped in 11 points in 25 minutes.

Lithuania will play Turkey on Wednesday after Turkey forward Emir Preldzic made his second of two last-minute 3-pointers only five seconds from the finish to stun Australia 65-64, sending the reigning silver medalists into the quarterfinals.

Australia was winning by five points with a minute to go when Preldzic struck from long range. And after Australia lost the ball for a shot-clock violation, Preldzic let the final seconds wind down before unleashing another 3-pointer under duress to snatch the win in dramatic fashion.

Preldzic and guard Sinan Guler had 16 points each to lead the Turks. San Antonio Spurs forward Aron Baynes scored 15 for Australia, which had led by 12 points in the third period.

In Madrid, guard Bogdan Bogdanovic made four 3-pointers and scored 21 points to help Serbia rout Greece 90-72.

Serbia will meet Brazil, an 85-65 winner over Argentina. Raulzinho Neto scored a game-high 21 points on 9-for-10 shooting to lead the way.

Greece needed a wild-card invitation to compete in Spain, but it had appeared to re-establish its credentials as a perennial medal contender by winning all five games to claim first place in its group to reach this first knockout round.

But Serbia led throughout except when Greece managed to edge ahead by a point late in the second quarter, and the Greeks imploded in the fourth period, falling behind by as many as 20.

Milwaukee Bucks center Miroslav Raduljica added 16 points for the Serbs, while Milos Teodosic scored 13 more.

Guard Nick Calathes paced Greece with 14 points.

In other quarterfinals, the United States plays Slovenia in Barcelona on Tuesday, and Spain faces France in Madrid on Wednesday.

Joseph Wilson, Associated Press

 

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