By Antonis Stroggylakis/ email@example.com
Cologne- After the first four games of the 2022 EuroBasket, evergreen medal contender Lithuania was 0-4 and in the brink of elimination. Maybe even completely written off by some fans.
Tonight, the entire Lithuanian team stepped up emphatically in the “do-or-die” game vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina to get a 87 – 70 win and and book a ticket to the Round of 16. Marius Grigonis, one of the protagonists in this victory, hopes that people will keep underestimating his squad.
“It’s good that some are thinking that we are underdogs,” Grigonis told Eurohoops. “Because it’s less pressure for us. We are here to compete in every game and try to win every game. For sure, nobody wants us in the playoffs.”
Grigonis lit the match that began the Lithuanian fire that ultimately overwhelmed Bosnia. The new Panathinaikos player entered the game in pure savage mode, hiting four 3-pointers and scoring 14 points without a miss over the first eight minutes.
He admitted that it was kind of personal for him. “I have plenty of stuff to prove so every time you step on the court you try to prove you are better than everybody. I’ll keep them to myself.”
Lithuania had to give this kind of battle after its game vs. Hungary finished the previous night. There wasn’t any time for sufficient rest but Grigonis and his teammates knew they just had to fight through an enormous amount fatigue that has been building up over the entire Group stage.
“It’s the second time that we play in less than 24 hours. It’s ridiculous,” Grigonis commented. “But you just have to adapt, trying to prepare your body. And, in the end, just give it all. ”
While Grigonis was setting the Bosnia defense ablaze, Panathinaikos fans were going nuts on Twitter. “Better than Doncic,” “Grigonis from another planet,” “Don’t be so good man, Lithuania will advance and you won’t join the team soon,” were some of the comments written by supporteers of the Greens.
Marius Grigonis reacts to Twitter messages by Panathinaikos fans on his performance vs. Bosnia pic.twitter.com/pTyodImb1Y
— Antonis Stroggylakis (@AStroggylakis) September 7, 2022
“Greek people are crazy,” Grigonis said with a wide smile. I saw how they write. It’s going to be a wild season so I’m looking forward to it.”
Grigonis cooled off a bit, scoring another basket in the rest of the match for a team-high 16 points, plus six rebounds.
In the meantime, Lietuva’s big men Jonas Valanciunas (13 points, 15 rebounds, five assists), Domantas Sabonis (12 points, six rebounds) began doing damage to Bosnia.
“Domas is a great guy but not the outspoken guy who will push everybody. But when he gets mad? Get out of the way,” Grigonis warned. “He’s getting better every year, being an All-Star and everything. It’s great to have two different All-Stars on our team.”
Grigonis and Lithuania are now traveling to Berlin to face Spain in the eighthfinal. “We still have battles ahead,” Grigonis added in the post-game presser. “We have few days to prepare. I’m excited. ”
Does Grigonis believe that his national team is still a medal contender? “As it’s always been,” he answered with certainty.