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Date
09 Sep 2014
Tags
Nanjing 2014 , YOG , IOC News

Basketball: Hitting the high notes in Nanjing

The Wutaishan Sports Centre provided the setting for some high-octane basketball action from the men, with the individual dunk contest warming the fans up for the fast-moving 3x3 team competition, which was won in thrilling circumstances by Lithuania.

Mouliom soars to dunk gold

The skills contests were new to the Youth Olympic Games programme and judging by the enthusiasm they whipped up among athletes and fans alike, they could well be here to stay.

The Wutaishan Sports Centre was packed to capacity when 21 athletes lined up for the men’s dunk contest, with participants required to perform a trick en route to the hoop before slamming the ball home, their efforts being marked for technique and creativity by a panel of judges.

Ziga Lah of Slovenia set the stage early in the four-man final when he selected two people from the crowd, asked them to crouch down and then leapt over them to nail a breath-taking dunk. He found himself in the lead after completing another equally spectacular attempt that earned the acclaim of the crowd and his fellow competitors.

However, France’s Karim Mouliom then upped the ante still further. Sporting blue sunglasses to match his kit, the French youngster soared high above three members of the Hungarian women’s team with his final attempt and rammed the ball into the net to grab gold.

“I’ve never done that before,” said Mouliom of his gravity-defying dunk, which brought the ecstatic crowd to its feet.

Lah was unable to respond, failing with his final dunk, and had to settle for silver.

“He is very good,” said Lah. “I didn’t have any more ideas. But it feels great to win a medal. This is a first for my country, for the Youth Games.” The bronze medal went to Fu Lei of China.

Zemaitis gives Lithuania last-gasp gold

After emerging from the pool phase and respectively seeing off Romania and Poland in the quarter-finals and Argentina and Russia in the semis, France and Lithuania found themselves face to face in the 3x3 gold medal match, with former China star Yao Ming and IOC President Thomas Bach watching on.
 
In a nail-biting finale, Kristupas Zemaitis scored a buzzer-beating two-pointer to secure a dramatic 18-16 overtime win for the Lithuanians and spark wild celebrations on the court.

Playing down his contribution, Zemaitis later said: “All my team-mates are the heroes. The luck was in the ending and I believed I would make the shot and I did.”

“It was an incredible shot,” said team-mate Jonas Leksas. “It’s impossible now to believe that we’re going to hear our anthem.” 

Zemaitis almost won the game in regulation time, giving his side a one-point lead with ten seconds remaining, only for Lucas Dussoulier’s lay-up to tie things up at 16-16 with four seconds left on the clock. Under tournament rules, a two-point lead was needed to win the game, and Zemaitis’ duly obliged with his clutch shooting.

Though disappointed to come off second best, France took pride from their efforts. “It was wonderful, we played the entire game very hard,” said Teddy Cheremond.

“We didn’t think we could do it and in the end we just tried to play hard all the way through the overtime,” he added.

The final was preceded by the men’s bronze medal match, in which Argentina ran out 17-14 winners over Russia.

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