By David HeinThe 1997 EuroBasket Women champions Lithuania and Latvia kick off their Group E qualifying round in Vasto with a Baltic battle of sides knowing the victors take the inside track of moving to next week's quarter-finals.
Lithuania have improved in each game, while the Latvians won their first two games but got a serious shot of reality against the Czech Republic.
Last Time Out: Lithuania collected their second straight victory by beating Germany 71-57 while the Latvians were pasted by the defending champions Czech Republic, 70-44.
|Zane Tamane will need to hit the boards hard if Latvia are to be successful.|
Key Match-Up: Zane Tamane vs Iveta Marcauskaite: Tamane collected 11 rebounds for Latvia in their victory against Turkey but only seven combined in the following two games. Marcauskaite leads a tall and powerful front line for Lithuania which was out-rebounded against Romania and Germany.
X-Factor: Gunta Gasko: While Anete Jekabsone-Zogota is clearly Latvia's main weapon (averaging a tournament-high 20.3 points, 1.7 rebounds, a tournament-best 4.7 assists and 1.0 steals), Gasko needs to play closer to her showing against Turkey-17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists-than her last two games where she has totaled nine points, five rebounds and four assists combined!
Stats: Latvia have committed an average of just 13 turnovers while Lithuania had 11 turnovers against Germany after games of 26 and 21 turnovers against Belgium and Romania, respectively.