Ilja Gromovs delivered an all-round performance for Latvia, finishing with 11 points, eight rebounds and five blocks
By Jared Grellet
Latvia began the Second Round of the Samsung U18 European Championship in winning fashion, defeating old foes Russia 70-64 on Monday.
Leading by three points at half time, Russia became the masters of their own downfall in the second half.
With Latvia opting to penetrate inside the paint more often in the third quarter, the Russian big men were too often pulled into fouling the Latvians who were able to turn a three-point deficit into a nine-point lead, thanks to their regular trips to the free-throw line.
It was again the case in the final quarter as Latvia, despite only making four points from the field, were able to keep their noses in front of the Russians via their trips to the charity stripe with all five of their points in the final four minutes coming from free throws.
The all-round performance from Latvia, with their bench providing 19 points as 11 of the 12 players used made their way onto the score sheet, was key to the outcome.
Ilja Gromovs dominated all facets of the game, finishing with 11 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots. Rihards Adins helped out with 10 points.
Russia's Mikhail Kulagin topped all scoring with 14 points.
Latvia can now confirm their place in the final eight with a win over Croatia on Tuesday whilst Bulgaria and Russia both go looking for their first win in the Second Round when they go head-to-head.