After finishing with a loss and a victory against Greece the first two attempts to eurobasketballthe Spanish team continues with another high-level challenge, this afternoon (7:30 p.m. peninsular time) in Las Palmas against Lithuania, in the third test for the men of Sergio Scariolo. The team resumed work on Sunday at Gran Canaria Arena, the scene of this meeting, and faces an important week both for the establishment and for sketching the team, now composed of 16 players and pending the resumption of Usman Garuba.
Yes Greece was a top rival with maximum aspirations, to say the least, of Lithuania, a team with a powerful interior game in which the Jonas NBA stand out Valanciunas (Pelicans) and Domantas Sabonis (kings). Azulgrana Jokubaitis, the base of the Zalgiris Lucas Lekavicius or the new striker of Panathinaikos Marius Grigonis constitute another of the combined Baltic threats. Lithuania is framed in group B of the first phase of Eurobasket with Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, bosnian Herzegovina and France.
In the opinion of the coach, Sergio Scariolo, Lithuania are “another team that everyone considers a favorite for medals”, which gives an idea of the difficulties. According to him, he is a “much stronger physically” rival, so he demands “to take a step forward, that the hardness of the impacts is high, to keep his big men as far as possible from the paint and to compete with a certain number under errors”. The Italian coach admits that the rival has a “very high physical-athletic rhythm”, plays “excellent basketball” and has very good players “in all positions”, while the strengths of Spain these are “enthusiasm, energy and the desire to improve”.
“Now we have a very strong rival like Lithuania, especially in the internal game and with talented players in all positions, but we are looking forward to another challenge, with individual responsibility and as a group,” said also added the striker. Xabi Lopez Arostegui.
Yesterday, the coach also focused more on psychological and environmental issues than talent or physical moment. “Everyone says we’re a long way from the medal fight and we have to work to get closer, and then see where the competition puts us,” he said. Sergio Scariolo, trying to hold a speech of humility and moderation. “Arrogance or bravado are not good allies in the face of competition, especially if it takes us away from reality,” he added.
Asked about the power forward’s physical condition Usman GarubaScariolo reckons he still has a ‘length’ ahead of him to be available, as he is behind his teammates, ‘not so much because of recovering his ankle but because of his fitness after being out of work for so a long time”, and he is a player who must “be in good physical shape to play and contribute”
After this game Spain will return the visit to the Baltic team with a trip to Vilnius, to play the rematch next Thursday. This will be the last event before playing the two World Cup Windows matches, against Iceland and the Netherlands, authentic appetizers of the European championship which will start on September 1.
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