by Joseph Wilson
Russia and Latvia will duke it out for the right to step up on the podium to receive the bronze medal at the U20 European Championship Women 2009 in Gdynia, Poland.
These two teams have already met once, Russia coming up with the 71-65 victory in the Qualifying Round.
Russia vs. Latvia Part II will no doubt hinge on which team can impose its style. Latvia will pressure the ball full-court, relying on their quickness and speed to unsettle the slower Russians.
|Nadezda Grishaeva was a key factor in the victory against Latvia in the tournament's earlier stages|
Russia, last year's gold medallists, will continue to do what they have done all tournament long - get the ball into the post and let Latvia pick their poison by doubleteaming or playing them one-on-one.
In that first encounter, Russia looked inside to Nadezda Grishaeva and Natalia Vieru who abused the smaller Latvian frontline.
When the Latvians left Grishaeva under single coverage, she ripped them 21 points, but then they doubleteamed her, she passed out to her perimeter players who hit 7-for-20 from beyond the three-point arc.
Russia must try to reduce their turnovers to neutralize the Latvian fastbreak. In their first meeting, Russia coughed the ball up 20 times, allowing Latvia to stay in the game.
Latvia, for their part, threatened till the last minutes behind their point guard Elina Babkina's 21 points. Today's game could very well be decided by Babkina. She is leading the tournament in scoring at almost 22 points per game. If she can get her early shots to go down, then this game could have a very different ending to the previous one.