May 4, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) during a break in the action against the Brooklyn Nets in game seven of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre. Brooklyn defeated Toronto 104-103. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

2014 FIBA World Cup Preview: Team Lithuania

Lithuania enters the 2014 FIBA World Cup as one of the favorites to take home the gold. They are currently the fourth-ranked team in the world according to the FIBA rankings and have enjoyed great success in the past.

They qualified for the tournament by winning the silver medal at the EuroBasket Tournament in 2013. They have never won a gold medal in the Olympics but have taken home the bronze three times (1992, 1996 and 2000). They have also won three bronze medals in the FIBA World Cup (1998, 2006 and 2010).

Lithuania will be playing with Angola, Australia, Korea, Mexico and Slovenia in Group D.

Below you can see their entire schedule.

Lithuania Schedule

August 30: Lithuania vs. Mexico

August 31: Lithuania vs. Angola

September 2: Lithuania vs. Australia

September 3: Lithuania vs. Korea

September 4: Lithuania vs. Slovenia

Lithuania caught a bit of a break. Not only are they one of the most talented teams in the tournament but they are in one of the easier groups. They are the favorite in the group. Four teams from each of the tournament’s four groups (A-D) will advance into bracket play. You can check out the bracket play schedule below.

Round of 16 – September 6-7

Quarterfinals – September 9-10

Semifinals – September 11-12

Bronze Medal Game – September 13

Gold Medal Game – September 14

Continue to the next slide for roster information, key storylines and predictions for Lithuania.

Roster

Feb 20, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Houston Rockets power forward Donatas Motiejunas (20) reacts against the Golden State Warriors during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Once you get a look at Lithuania’s roster, you can see why they are expected to contend in the tournament.

Guards: Martynas Pocius (6’5, 196, Galatasaray Liv Hospital, TBL (TUR)), Adas Juskevicius (6’4, 194, Lietuvos rytas, LKL (LTU)), Renaldas Seibutis (6’5, 196, Darussafaka, TBL2 (TUR)), Sarunas Vasiliauskas (6’2, 188, Trefl Sopot, PLK (POL))

Frontcourt: Mindaugas Kuzminskas (6’8, 204, Unicaja Malaga, ACB (ESP)), Darjus Lavrinovic (6’11, 212, Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia, Lega A (ITA)), Jonas Maciulis (6’6, 198, Real Madrid, ACB (ESP)), Simas Jasitis (6’7, 201, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar, PBL (RUS)), Donatas Motiejunas (7’0, 213, Houston Rockets), Ksistof Lavrinovic (6’11, 210, Valencia Basket Club, ACB (ESP)), Paulius Jankunas (6’9, 205, Zalgiris, LKL (LTU)), Jonas Valanciunas (6’11, 211, Toronto Raptors)

Their depth chart currently looks like this.

C Jonas Valančiūnas Darjuš Lavrinovič
PF Donatas Motiejūnas Kšyštof Lavrinovič Paulius Jankūnas
SF Jonas Mačiulis Mindaugas Kuzminskas Simas Jasaitis
SG Martynas Pocius Renaldas Seibutis
PG Šarūnas Vasiliauskas Adas Juškevičius

There are several names that stick including a couple of NBA players in Motiejunas and Valanciunas, who were key contributors for playoff teams last season. This is one of the most talented teams in the tournament.

What to Watch For in Group D and Predictions

Apr 9, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe (2) celebrates with guard Goran Dragic (1) against the New Orleans Pelicans in the second half at the Smoothie King Center. The Suns won 94-88. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Lithuania may have caught a bit of a break being in Group D and they should cruise into bracket play.

Their biggest competition will come from Australia and Slovenia.

Australia features former NBA center David Anderson, San Antonio Spurs’ forward/center Aron Baynes and Cleveland Cavaliers’ guard Matthew Dellavedova. Forward Cameron Bairstow of the Chicago Bulls could also be a key player for Australia. However, the player everyone will have their eyes on in Group D, Utah Jazz point guard Dante Exum. Exum was a bit of a mystery entering the 2014 NBA Draft and wound up being selected with the fifth-overall pick.

Slovenia’s roster is headlined by Phoenix Suns’ point guard Goran Dragić, who is coming off a fantastic season. Dragić put up 20.3 points, 5.9 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 50.5% from the floor, 40.8% from three and 76.0% from the charity stripe last season. His brother, Zoran Dragić, is also on the roster. Zoran Dragić was the Slovenian league MVP back in 2011.

Mexico is the only other team in the group featuring an NBA player, former New Orleans Hornets (Pelicans), Orlando Magic, Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks’ big man Gustavo Ayón.

I expect Lithuania to win the group with Australia, Slovenia and Mexico also advancing. They will meet the winners of Group C, which features the Dominican Republic, Finland, New Zealand, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States.

Should both Lithuania and the United States win their groups, I expect the Americans to eventually knock out the Lithuanians.

What do you say, FanSided? How far does Lithuania get? Will they win their group? Who do you think will win the FIBA World Cup? Sound off in the comment section below.

Tags: Donatas Motiejunas FIBA World Cup Jonas Valanciunas Lithuania

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