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Lithuania edges Russia to advance into quarters
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Lithuania cruised past Russia 84-79 for its third win in Group A on Thursday, advancing to the quarterfinals of the Beijing Olympic men's basketball competition in the Wuhesong Olympic Basketball Gymnasium.

Rimantas Kaukenaswhen contributed 20 points to lead four Lithuanians to score double digits. Captain Ramunas Siskauskas tossed in 16 with Sarunas Jasikevicius 12, 10 from first period, and Ksistof Lavrinovic 11.

Linas Kleiza grabbed 11 rebounds for Lithuania, who outrebounded Russia 48-34.

"The key to our win was defense. We fought under the basket very well and we won rebounds," Lithuanian coach Butautas Ramunas said after game.

"We are happy but we don't have time to enjoy it because we have to prepare for our next match."

The Lithuanians, bronze medalists at the 2007 FIBA European Championships, became the second team to book a next round berth following Spain's 72-59 victory over Germany early Thursday in Group B.

Lithuania had beaten defending champion Argentina and Iran, while Spain had defeated Greece and China.

With the defeat, Russia, the current European champion, recorded 1-2 and needs a win over Australia on Saturday to ensure a quarterfinal berth.

Australia has also registered a 1-2 record after beating win-less Iran on Thursday.

"We're now in the thick of a real battle to qualify," Russia's American coach Blatt David said.

"We came here with the desire to finish as high as we possibly could. Of course we would be disappointed if we didn't make the quarterfinals. It would be irresponsible to say otherwise," the coach added.

Lithuania took the lead in most minutes and overcame a strong rally from Russia in the fourth quarter before sealing the victory.

It was 69-62 entering the last period but Russia fought back again and took the lead, 75-73, for the first time since a 36-34 advantage in the second quarter after an 11-4 run.

Simas Jasaitis scored 5 of his 9 points, including a 3-pointer with 3:03 minutes remaining, to lead Lithuania with an identical 11-4 answer for the triumph.

Dzhon-Robert Kholden led four Russia's scorers with 25 points, Andrey Kirilenko added 16 points and got a game-high six steals and blocked three shots.

"We fell short in basic fundamental areas. We missed 15 free-throws and close to 10 layups," David said.

(Xinhua News Agency August 14, 2008)

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