LONDON, ENGLAND - Representing his native Lithuania for the second time on the Olympic stage, former Seton Hall men's basketball guard Rimas Kaukenas delivered his best performance of the tournament on Wednesday. Despite his efforts however, Kaukenas could not lift his team past Russia, who advanced to the semifinals by virtue of an 83-74 victory.
The Vilnius, Lithuania native came off the bench to carry an otherwise anemic Lithuanian offensive attack that managed just 37 percent shooting from the floor as a team for the game. Still regarded as one of the premier guards in European basketball, Kaukenas matched a game-high by pouring in 19 points in 22 minutes, going 6-for-12 from the field and 3-for-5 from downtown.
One of his three-pointers capped an 11-0 run for Lithuania, drawing them to within one at 54-53 with 9:32 remaining in the contest. The Russians found an answer for the charge, and behind a strong fourth quarter from NBA veteran Andrei Kirilenko, never relinquished the lead.
It was the second-straight game Kaukenas scored in double-figures after a 10-point effort in a must-win game against Tunisia in the final contest of the preliminary round. The 6-foot-5 guard finished the tournament averaging 7.8 points per game for a Lithuanian team that routinely employed a 9-10 man rotation, and made 50 percent of his three-point attempts over six games.
Kaukenas is the second former Seton Hall athlete to bow out in the quarterfinals in London, as women's soccer great Kelly Smith and Team Great Britain previously fell to Canada in the opening stage of the medal round as well. Smith had helped Team GB to a perfect 3-0-0 record in the preliminary round but was unable to play in the elimination game after picking up an injury against Brazil in the final game of group play.
Former Seton Hall All-American Andrew Valmon remains extremely active in London, helping guide what has been nothing short of a dominant performance by the USA Track & Field squad from his position as head coach of the men's team.
Through six full days of competition, the U.S. has captured 20 medals in track & field events, accounting for nearly 25 percent of the U.S.A.'s 82 total medals, a figure which is currently the most for any nation at the Games.
By itself, U.S.A. track & field's current medal count would rank 10th among all countries competing. The men's team has accounted for nine of the medal-winning performances, equaling the total of America's closest competitors on the track so far, Russia, who has won a total of nine medals to this point.
Recent triumphs for the U.S. men included their first gold of 2012 in what was a 1-2 American finish in the men's 110-meter hurdles. Aries Merritt produced the golden performance, edging his teammate Jason Richardson in the event.
The American men also recently took home three silver medals, with Leo Manzano (1,500-meters), Erik Kynard (high jump), and Michael Tinsley (400-meter hurdles) all placing second in their respective finals.
Today, the team will look to add to its gaudy medal haul as the men's decathlon draws to a close and finalists compete in the men's triple jump, 800-meters and 200-meters.
Track & field competition will conclude with the men's marathon on August 12.