|Davis Geks led all Latvia scorers with 20 points and kept his cool at the free-throw line in the clutch |
By Jared Grellet
Co-hosts Latvia confirmed their spot in the Quarter-Finals of the Samsung U18 European Championship, following their thrilling 61-60 win over Slovenia in their final Second Round game.
The equation was simple for both teams going into Wednesday's encounter: win and go to the Quarter-Finals; lose and be left fighting it out for a minor position.
Out-rebounding Slovenia 24-8 in the first half, Latvia were deserved of their 13-point lead at the break.
But when Dzemo Ibisi's team began showing more aggression under the hoops in the third quarter, the comeback had begun.
Tomaz Bolcina came to the fore for Slovenia, scoring ten points in the frame and heading into the final period, the lead was back to four.
Despite only winning by a point, Latvia held the lead for all of the final quarter as Davis Geks lead the way with 12 points, the final of which put Latvia up by five with just over a minute to play.
Scoring the last four points of the game, Slovenia had a chance to win the game with two seconds remaining but Matic Rebec missed his lay-up, much to the joy of the partisan crowd in attendance.
It was a curious performance from the Slovenians with only four of their players scoring, and one of those four, Jan Rizman, providing three points.
In comparison, 10 of Latvia's 12 players contributed to scoring.
Geks was Latvia's biggest contributor with 20 points on six-for-eight shooting from the field. No other player hit double figures.
Of the four Slovenians to score, Rebec finished on top with 24 points.