MADRID 's Lithuania's basketball players secured the bronze medal at the Eurobasket2007 European basketball championships Sep. 16, beating Greece in the third-place play-off after unexpectedly losing out to Russia in the semi-finals. Russia went on to win the competition with a last-gasp victory over hosts Spain.
There was far more at stake for Lithuania than pride in the third-place play-off. By winning the bronze medal they earned automatic qualification for the Olympic games in Beijing next year and the prospect of handsome cash bonuses courtesy of the taxpayer.
Ramunas Siskauskas continued his superb form throughout the competition and shot a pair of three-pointers toward the end of the match to secure a 78-69 victory over the Greeks.
"It's not a gold medal but I'll take this," said Darius Songaila after the game. "It's a great feeling. Now we're going to focus on the Olympics."
As well receiving their medals on the podium from prime minister Gediminas Kirkilas, Lithuania's players will also receive bonuses of at at least 180,000 litas (52,000 euros) from government funds.
The Lithuanian National Olympic Committee will decide whether to give an additional bonus to the team.