Four European teams were able to advance out of pool play and into the single-elimination tournament at the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying tournament in Caracas, Venezuela. Heading into the final game of the night Friday, however, the Euros were upset in two out of their three games heading into the Lithuania-Puerto Rico nightcap.
Lithuania looked like it might suffer the same fate, but the tournament favorites were able to hold on with a 76-72 victory to advance to Saturday's semifinals. The Lithuanians will now be fighting with three other teams -- Dominican Republic, Nigeria and Russia -- for the final three berths in the 2012 London Olympics.
Toronto Raptors draft pick Jonas Valanciunas was limited to just six minutes of court time due to foul trouble, but Lithuania had enough talent to make up for the loss of their talented big man. Former journeyman NBA point guard Sarunas Jasikevicius took over down the stretch to finish with 11 points while current Raptors forward Linas Kleiza and Mantas Kalnietis led Lithuania with 14 points each.
On the losing side of the basketball, Alex Galindo led the way with 17 points, but Puerto Rico was unfortunately unable to get enough from their NBA stalwarts. J.J. Barea struggled his way to 13 points on 15 shots and a few bad decisions down the stretch while Carlos Arroyo had a more efficient 13 points, but also struggled during crunch time.
Puerto Rico's Olympic hopes are now dashed while Lithuania moves on to play the Dominican Republic in the semifinals. The winners of Saturday's games will both be assured Olympic bids -- and therefore no final game will be played -- whereas the final berth will be decided on Sunday in a third-place game featuring Saturday's losers.