Ball brothers make statement in first game In Lithuania
With parents LaVar and Tina sitting courtside, the youngest Ball brothers — LiAngelo and LaMelo — scored a combined 29 points in their Lithuanian professional basketball debut Tuesday.
LiAngelo Ball made just two of his nine shots prior to halftime, but managed to finish 8-for-19 from the floor for 19 points to help lead Prienai-Birstonas Vytautas to a 90-80 victory over Zalgiris’ second team.
Younger brother LaMelo Ball finished with 10 points, nine assists and six turnovers on the night.
LaMelo Ball with 10 points and 9 assists in his Lithuanian debut ? @MELOD1P pic.twitter.com/RP2LG8lscL
— Overtime (@overtime) January 9, 2018
Zalgiris’ second team featured the top under-18 players from the elite program in Lithuania.
At 16 years old, LaMelo became the youngest American basketball player to play in a professional game.
Today, LaMelo Ball will become the youngest American basketball player to play a professional game. He’s 16. pic.twitter.com/MvGgK16WoJ
— Thomas Duffy (@TJDhoops) January 9, 2018
Vytautas, a low-budget Lithuanian team, opted to withdraw from Baltic League play to compete in a series of five friendly Big Baller Brand Challenge games.
The team competes domestically in the Lithuanian Basketball League but also normally plays in the lower-level Baltic Basketball League against teams from other Baltic countries. Last year, it won the Elite Division there.
Tuesday night’s game was broadcast live on Facebook as part of the Big Baller Brand Challenge and generated more than 120,000 viewers at times.
Certainly no questioning LaMelo Ball’s talent level. Seeing more of his court vision at this level. Super creative, instinctual facilitator. Distributes with either hand. Overall has a really smooth game just needs more discipline/defense and fewer 30-foot pull-ups.
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) January 9, 2018
LaMelo had several no-look assists, including one to his brother, and flashed his athleticism by making an acrobatic reverse layup in the second half.
He took a couple of deep 3-pointers from NBA range, but couldn’t connect on either of his attempts.
Check out this beautiful assist he had in transition:
Here's that LaMelo Ball behind-the-back pass
— Rob Lopez (@r0bato) January 9, 2018
Vytautas will play its next game on Saturday night in a Lithuanian league contest in Lietkabelis. Since it is not a friendly game, it is unclear how much playing time the Ball brothers will receive in that contest.
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