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Ljubljana, Sep 20 (EFE).- Led by the one-two punch of Jonas Maciulis and Linas Kleiza, Lithuania defeated Croatia here Friday 77-62 to advance to the final of the EuroBasket tournament for the fifth time.
Neither team was able to build an early lead in the early going, in which both squads alternated between zone and man-to-man defensive schemes.
Kleiza had the hot hand to give the Lithuanians a slight early advantage, tallying 12 of his 22 points in the first quarter to stake his country to a 24-19 lead.
He then scored five more points at the start of the second quarter as the Baltic nation increased its advantage to nine points at 29-20.
The Lithuanians also did an excellent defensive job on Croatian star Bojan Bogdanovic, holding him to 15 points for the game, although the Croatians kept battling and reduced the deficit to 40-37 at halftime.
The Lithuanians, however, blew the game wide open with an 18-3 run at the start of the third quarter behind the strong play of Maciulis.
Mantas Kalnietis added 18 points for Lithuania, which will play either Spain or France in Sunday's final.
Lithuania captured the EuroBasket title in 1937, 1939 and 2003 and was runner-up in 1995.