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BASKETBALL / EUROPEAN OLYMPIC QUALIFYING : Sabonis, Marciulionis Send Lithuanians to Barcelona

July 04, 1992|From Associated Press

ZARAGOZA, Spain — Lithuania qualified for the 1992 Olympic Games on Friday, 53 years after it was annexed by the Soviet Union and 11 months after it regained its independence.

Arvidas Sabonis scored 28 points and Sarunas Marciulionis added 20 as Lithuania beat Slovenia, 90-73, becoming the first team to advance from the European Olympic qualifying tournament at the Prince Felipe Pavilion.

It was Lithuania's first Olympic basketball tournament.

"This is working out just the like I'd hoped," Marciulionis said. "I'm very, very happy and excited to play in the Olympics. Everything is going our way."

In other games, Valeri Tikhonenko scored 40 points as the Commonwealth of Independent States beat Israel, 101-85, and Croatia beat Czechoslovakia, 84-68, behind 21 points from Drazen Petrovic. Germany defeated Italy, 109-91, as Detlef Schrempf returned from a bout of food poisoning to score 37.

Lithuania is 5-0 for the final round. Germany, Croatia and the CIS are 3-2 and battling for the final three Olympic berths. Slovenia (2-3) could also wind up tied for the third and fourth spots at 4-3.

"I figure we only need to win one more game," CIS forward Alexander Volkov said. "I know it will be close, but I'm confident we can go through to Barcelona."

Lithuania has four starters from the Soviet Union's 1988 Olympic gold medal team. Tikhonenko, a former draft pick of the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA, made 18 of 20 shots and added three assists and three steals. Volkov, who plays for the Hawks, had 20 points and eight assists.

Croatia shot 61% and won its third consecutive game. Forward Dino Radja had 19 points and five rebounds, and guard Toni Kukoc added 13 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.

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