After the amazing successes of our Belgian Cats it was now up to our Belgian Lions to put Belgian Basketball on the map. And in this first game of the FIBA EuroBasket 2021 Qualifiers they did just that by defeating number 8 in the world Lithuania with the convincing 86-65 final score.
Although we can’t ignore that this was far from the strongest unit for Lithuania without their NBA- and Euroleague players, this result from our Lions – and especially the way they went out to get it – definitely deserves praise. We saw a strong cohesive unit on the court and on the right moments a couple of individual players stepped up and seemed unstoppable on the offensive end.
Retin Obasohan entered the game off the bench mid-way the opening quarter and immediately put his stamp on this game with strong defense and 5 consecutive points which started a nice little run to end the opening quarter on the 23-9 score.
After the little break everyone expected Lithuania to come hard at our Lions and start chipping away at their deficit but Obasohan was only getting started. After he gave our Lions the opening score of the quarter with a break-away dunk he received the help from Boukichou and the sharp shooting Gillet to further increase their lead and put the unexpected 40-21 score on the board at the half.
And the best was yet to come for our Lions. Tabu re-entered the game and just exploded, scoring 13 of his 18 points in that 3rd quarter. When Serron also continued to find the bottom of the net and Obasohan threw in another spectacular dunk we had to pinch our arms as the Lions had put a 30+ advantage on the scoreboard (68-31) headed into the 4th quarter.
In that final quarter the tempo of the game dropped and Lithuania found some openings here and there to slightly reduce the gap for the 86-65 final score. With the win never in doubt Head Coach Gjergja also threw in his 11th & 12th man (Schwartz & Bratanovic) and saw them contributing with 1 bucket each to complete a very strong team effort by our Lions.
Obasohan finished the game as top-scorer with his 21 pts, while he also added 2 rebs, 3 asts & 3 stls. Tabu ended up with 18 pts & 2 asts, while Pierre-Antoine Gillet (11 pts, 7 rebs, 3 asts & 2 stls) and Quentin Serron (10 pts, 6 rebs, 5 asts & 2 stls) also ended up in double-figures scoring. Jean-Marc Mwema (8 pts & 4 stls), Khalid Boukichou (8 pts & 3 rebs) and Maxime De Zeeuw (2 pts & 9 rebs) also chipped in very nicely.