But Lithuania finished preliminary group play in at this year's FIBA World Championship tournament with a perfect 5-0 record in Turkey, stunning the defending world-champion Spanish team and upsetting France in their next game.
They defeated China in the eight-finals, and then went on to bludgeon FIBA's top-ranked Argentinean team on Thursday, 104-85, in the FIBA World Championship quarterfinals in Istanbul, Turkey. Lithuania now moves on to play the United States in the semifinal round.
Lithuania got off to a blazing start on splendid shooting Thursday. They finished the first quarter with a 10-point lead and closed out the half on a buzzer-beating layup by Mantas Kalniet to give them a 20-point advantage and all the momentum heading into the locker room.
In the second half, the lead was insurmountable as Argentina was never able to creep back into contention. Lithuania's defense was too tough, they continued to shoot well, and they played heady basketball and limited their turnovers with their lead.
Throughout the game, the Lithuanians were sparked by remarkable 3-point shooting. They finished the game 12 of 24 from long-distance range, shooting a gaudy 50 percent. All seven of Lithuania's scorers finished in double figures, led by Simas Jasaitis with 19 points and Toronto Raptors forward Linas Kleiza with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Meanwhile, the story of the game was Lithuania's lockdown defense on Argentina's power forward Luis Scola of the Houston Rockets. Scola, the tournament's leading scorer, was a one-man wrecking crew against Brazil in the eight-finals, scoring 37 points and shooting 14 of 20 from the field.
But Lithuania limited the Argentine to only 13 points on 5 of 16 shooting from the field on Thursday. Milwaukee Bucks swingman Carlos Delfino added 25 points, but there is no doubt Argentina missed NBA stars Manu Ginobili and Andres Nocioni throughout the tournament.
Argentina shot a paltry 4 of 21 for only 19 percent from 3-point range on Thursday. By the time Argentina hit their first three-pointer 25 minutes into the game, Lithuania already had 11.
Lithuania, a country rich in basketball tradition, has produced the likes of Sarunas Marciulionis and Arvydas Sabonis. It is not a newcomer to the big stage, winning the bronze medal at the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games.
Lithuania and the United States will now face off Saturday in the semifinals in a game between two undefeated teams. The winner will advance to the championship game Sunday at the 2010 FIBA World Championship.