Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Domantas Sabonis added ten points and two rebounds before fouling out in Lithuania's thrilling 82-76 victory over host-country Brazil. Following an opening 12-12 stalemate, Lithuania outscored Brazil 46-17 to erect a seemingly insurmountable 58-29 halftime lead. During Lithuania's dominant twenty-minute stretch, the world's third-ranked FIBA collective shot a staggering 75 percent from the floor.
However, sparked by a colossal 42-17 run of their own, Brazil nearly fashioned a second-half Olympic comeback for the ages. The game's leading scorer -- Leandro Barbosa (21 points) -- brought his team within four points before ultimately falling just short. A fortunate Lithuania squad was led in scoring by Mantas Kalnietis' 16.
In what was undoubtedly the 31st Olympiad's most competitive men's basketball contest thus far, each team produced clear stretches of brilliance. Lithuania (1-0 Group B) saw four players join Kalnietis in double figures. One of those men was this summer's #11 overall draft pick Sabonis.
The precocious 6'11 former Gonzaga product displayed advanced footwork and natural post instincts during a mixed performance that might be expected of an Olympic newcomer. Overall, Sabonis was 4-of-8 from the field and 2-of-4 from the foul line. Meanwhile, fellow Lithuanian NBA big-man Jonas Valanciunas was held to a disappointing six points total.
For Brazil, (0-1 Group B) NBA standouts Raul Neto (14) and Nene (11) helped bring the countries' sold-out contingency to a frenzied pitch before eventually succumbing in the contest's waning moments.
After a showdown for the ages, both teams resume group play on Tuesday.