The third day of EuroBasket2015 is off to a thrilling start as, Belgium has shocked Lithuania in the first game of the day.
Lithuania, of course, is a basketball powerhouse. Lead by Jonas Valanciunas, they were ranked fourth in the world by FIBA coming into EuroBasket. In the 2013 tournament, they took home the Silver Medal, and have won the competition three different times, most recently in 2003.
Belgium, on the other hand, has a less than remarkable basketball history. Their qualification for EuroBasket in 2011 was their first qualification since 1993, and while they’ve qualified for the last two tournaments, they finished 21st and ninth, respectively. Coming into this tournament, they were ranked 51st in the world by FIBA, and just 21st in Europe.
Early on, it appeared Lithuania would promptly run Belgium off the floor, as they lead 32-19 late in the second quarter. But the Belgians would not be defeated that easily, battling back to tie the game heading into halftime.
From there it was a back-and-forth affair, until Lithuania pulled ahead 74-68 with just over two minutes to play. But Jonathan Tabu knocked down a three, and following a Valanciunas turnover, Axel Hervelle did the same to tie it. Just like that it was 74-74 with 1:41 to play.
There would be no more baskets until the death, as Belgium won it in spectacular and controversial fashion thanks to a tip-in by Pierre-Antoine Gillet. After a missed Lithuania shot, Sam Van-Rossom flew up the court and put up an off-balance try with just over a second to go.
It didn’t go down, but there was Gillet to tip it home.
After nearly 10 minutes of replays and debate, the officials deemed the shot good, giving Belgium the massive upset victory. And thanks to their win over Estonia yesterday, Belgium now sits atop Group D after three games of pool play.
Go on you Belgian Lions.