|Elvis Endzels had 13 points but, most importantly, he and his Latvia teammates came up with big plays in the clutch|
By Jared Grellet
Co-hosts Latvia have gotten their Samsung U18 European Championship campaign off to the perfect start, defeating France 58-54 in their opening Group C game in Liepaja.
In a tense battle that was hampered by weak shooting at both ends of the court Latvia came up with the big plays down the stretch when it mattered.
Ivars Zvigurs pulled off a classy lay-up to give his team a four-point buffer before following up with the block of the night on Alexandre Chassang, when the Frenchman attempted to tie the game up with 14 seconds remaining.
With Latvia trailing midway through the final quarter, David Geks came up with back-to-back threes to hand them the lead again.
The best France could manage in the last five minutes was to tie the game up, but they could not get their noses back in front.
Geks ended the night with a team-high 17 points off the bench. Elvis Endzels chipped in with 13.
Benjamin Sene topped French scoring off the bench with 13 points.
On Friday, France will look to right their campaign when they take on day one's surprise winners, Bulgaria.
Later in the evening Latvia play Turkey.