Latvia Hang On To Beat Israel In Double Overtime


Latvia threw themselves a lifeline in EuroBasket Women Qualifying Round Group B after they shocked Israel with a thrilling 83-82 double overtime road win in Ramat Gan to keep everyone guessing as to who will join Israel in making it to Poland next summer.

Led by another stellar contribution of 19 points and 15 rebounds by Zane Tamane, which was her second double-double in as many games, Latvia live to fight another day although were left crushed by the news that Serbia had won in Romania.

For such a riveting and pulsating contest, it had been a relatively slow start to the contest for both teams, Latvia held a slender lead at 9-7 after five minutes of action.

However led by some excellent work by Ieva Kublina, the visitors leapt out into an 18-10 advantage as the first quarter drew to a close. A triple by Liron Cohen narrowed things heading into the second period and within two minutes, the home team were suddenly in front at 21-18 ahead.

They were still leading 30-27 with two minutes to go until the break after a lay-up by Shat Doron but Latvia finished the half strongly with six straight points including a triple by Santa Dreimane to head off court 33-30 ahead.

Israel were always likely to come back out onto the floor strongly and so it proved as they worked their way back in front by the end of the third quarter, a last gasp Liron Cohen lay-up handing them the initiative at 49-45.

A 7-2 spurt at the beginning of the fourth looked to have given Latvia a real hill to climb at nine points adrift but they responded well as Israel froze. A stunning 11-0 run by the visitors meant they went 59-56 ahead.

There was much relief from home fans when Laine Selwyn scored from downtown with a little over a minute remaining in regulation and neither team could finish it without the need for overtime.

Latvia were back in front in the extra period at 67-64 but a huge three-pointer by Ekaterina Abramzon meant it was another five minutes for the fans to savour.

Again leading in crunch time at 82-78 after two Gunta Basko free-throws, it looked like lightening might strike again after Abramzon converted with another triple to make it a one point game in the dying seconds.

As Selwyn tied things up with one of two from the line, a third period of overtime beckoned but Babkina sunk a free-throw to ensure Latvia came out on top in a real classic.

Kublina top scored for Latvia with 20 points while Liron Cohen had a superb 24 points and 13 assists for Israel.

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