The fourth place of Lithuania can be considered as a surprise as their main player and U16 European Championship MVP Tauras Jogela was missing. The predictions in the Lithuanian press were not very positive either but a team that lacked size and talent but had the cojones to win the games that counted was one of the nice surprises in Hamburg. Unfortunately for them, they were only one shot away from winning the Bronze Medal.
Mantas Mockevicius – 1m86 – G – 1993 – Lietuvos Rytas
Mockevicius is probably the most underrated player of the tournament by just taking a quick look at him on the court. He is an undersized SG that looks physically strong but not particularly muscular or in best shape. But the 1m86 tall guard surprises you with athleticism and toughness in a way to use at maximum his possibilities. He looks like a constant overachiever but as he does this on a regular basis, you need to start considering him as a serious prospect.
The left handed player is constantly attacking the basket with full speed and on a high energy level. He prefers to go for his left hand of course and he is somehow able to create scoring possibilities for himself at will. The guard finishes mostly close to the rim either by going hard to the lay-up or trying some kind of out-of-balance floating jump-shot where he uses his body to protect himself from being blocked. He has excellent hang time in order to wait with his shot until the last second. From the top, he normally goes for some kind of tear drop floater, a move that he used in the Bronze Medal game for the last shot of the game and missed. When using the right hand to attack the basket, he goes however to his left hand for the finish. Additionally, you may better be prepared to see him go for the dunk on occasions.
His long distance shot is currently still a work in progress. Not only that he is not particularly dangerous from behind the arc, the mechanics are very slow and the shot is taken somehow like a chest shot. He can therefore only go for it when being totally open and he does not even net it with high percentages in those cases. Because of his good athletic abilities and rather thick frame, Mockevicius is very present in the rebound for a player of his size. He fights hard on the offensive glass in order to get second chances and reads the trajectories very well. He is not really a great passer and therefore, he will most likely remain a combo-guard without any major potential to become a playmaker. He is able to go for good dishes to the big guys for example, but he mainly remains a scorer.
Stats:16.4ppg (55.4% 2FGs – 30.0% 3FGs), 3.9rpg, 1.8apg
Martynas Paliukenas – 1m78 – G – 1993 – Marciulonis Basketball School
Officially the shortest player of the Lithuanian team with 1m78, I have some serious doubts about his height as he looked more like 1m90 to me. Whatever his real height might be, Paliukenas showed nice talent, especially as a passer and when pushing the ball on the fast break. He excels when receiving the ball out of rebound situations and starts to break the defense with his quick dribbles and direction changes. The guard can come up with excellent and spectacular passes without forcing the show at all, they look natural when he is doing so.
Despite being right handed, Paliukenas loves to attack the basket with his left hand and finish in the two point area with fantastic percentages for a guard. His left handed drive is particularly strong and he is not afraid to finish even against the most athletic players close to the rim. He can go for long and big steps in order to surround the defenders that try to take the charge and scoring with the foul is also an option for him. His three-point shot looks nice without being great but the drive remains his first asset. Together with his creative passing skills, Paliukenas could develop into an interesting PG for a fast-paced team in the future.
Stats: 10.5ppg (63.9% 2FG – 35.0% 3FG), 3.2rpg, 3.4apg, 2.0spg
Simonas Kymantas – 2m04 – C – 1993 – Sabonis Basketball School
The only Lithuanian inside player that had good height was Simonas Kymantas. Because of a very thin body, he looked taller than listed but he still remains a PF for the future despite playing C all the time with the team. Kymantas has a good positioning in the paint and can score close to the basket when receiving the ball in the right moment. His hands are ok but not great, he is not the type of player that steps out and takes the long jump shot. Nearly all of his scores come from inside the paint where he uses his correct athletic abilities to finish with a dunk as well when feeling comfortable.
Kymantas showed nice rebounding and shot blocking talent because of his good explosiveness of two feet. He has pretty high shoulders which gives him an excellent standing reach for his size. He does not display a lot of post moves but can finish on the drop step or the occasional hook shot. He is a good offensive rebounder and creates himself therefore several additional scoring possibilities.
Stats: 9.0ppg (62.2% FGs), 10.2rpg, 2.1bpg
Tomas Lekunas – 1m95 – G – 1993 – Akademija
Tomas Lekunas remains a player that I really like because of his versatility. He is present in all the compartments of the game, scoring, rebounding, passing and especially on defense. Despite having a shooting release that looks a bit strange, Lekunas is a serious threat from behind the arc. Playing most of the time SF or even PfineF for the short-sized Lithuanian team, it is hard to say if he has the necessary speed though to play full-time on the SG spot which should be his future. He has the necessary tools and scoring potential to do so.
Stats: 10.2ppg (40.0% 2FG – 32.6% 3FG), 4.6rpg, 2.4apg, 2.0spg
Rokas Narkevicius – 1m93 – G – 1993 – Aisciai
The sniper of the Lithuanian team was the 1m93 tall guard from Aisciai. He took nearly 10 3pt shots per game and had 3 times more attempts from behind the arc than in the two point area. Netting about 31.5% from his long distance attempts, Narkevicius was a major part of the Lithuanian scoring. He has a really quick release and is not afraid to shoot also over taller players. Not much of an in-between game or drive, he looks for the pass when he does not feel comfortable with his shooting position. He should be an excellent player when facing a zone defense as he excels in catch-and-shoot situations.
Stats: 11.5ppg (23/73 3FGs), 3.2rpg
Paulius Semaska – 1m79 – G – 1993 – Kedainiu Nevezis
The tiny Lithuanian PG paced the time nicely and had to stop his other back-court players sometimes before they went too fast. Semaska is able to be a scoring threat as well as he can hit the big shots from behind the arc but he mainly plays the drive, especially with his right hand. He can stop to go for the mid-range jumper as well but he looks more dangerous from behind the 6m25 line, also out of the dribble. Semaska struggled though over the tournament with a lot of turnovers and his limited size may prevent him from becoming a high-level player in the future.
Stats: 7.1ppg (52.2% 2FG – 26.9% 3FG), 1.6rpg, 3.9apg, 1.4spg, 4.0topg