Game for 7th place: Croatia vs Latvia

09.09.2001

In a game where both sides were looking for a constellation win and taking the seventh place in EuroBasket 2001, the two teams preferred an uptempo style of play. However, neither team hit their shots, combining for 26% from the field (5/19 FG) when Latvia called a timeout with 05:33 remaining in the first period. Latvian shooters then started finding their range, which gave them a 8-0 run for a 17-5 lead. Croatia, shooting only 1 for 8 behind the arc, failed to score for 2:38 until a buzzer beater by Giricek cut Latvia's lead to 9: 15-24. Kambala, who scored the first 6 points for his team, had a game-high 12 points at the end of the quarter.

The first 4 minutes of the second quarter were very much like the first with both teams scoring 8 points. Croatia then had a 14-3 run thanks to 9 points from backup point guard Josip Sesar, replacing the injured Krstic. They were able to get as close as 2 points but their carelessness on the defensive boards gave Latvia the chance to regroup for a 7-point lead going to the locker room: 39-46. Latvia had 3 players in double figures, Helmanis (4 fouls but not benched by the Latvian coach Armands Kraulins) and Kambala with 14 points and 6 rebounds, Stelmahers with 11 even though they only shot 37% from the field. Mulaomerovic, who stayed on the court for only 6 minutes, was ineffective with no points (0/3 FG) or assists. 28 out of 39 points for Croatia came from their bench players.

Croatia was quick off the block to start the second half. They put on a shooting clinic to score 20 points in 5 minutes and to take their first lead in the ball game with 04:53 to go in the third: 59-58. The fifth foul on Helmanis just a minute and a half into the quarter hurt Latvia in the paint with Kovacic dominating the boards with 6 rebounds in this period. Mulaomerovic and Mrsic showed that experience matters by combining for 21 points. Kristaps Valters with 8 points and hustling plays at the defensive end kept Latvia, who were without the company of their best scorer Ainars Bagatskis with an injury, in striking distance: 71-67.

It was a tie game at 77 when Croatia called a timeout after a Stelmahers 3-pointer with 05:41 to go in the match. Miglinieks, the assist leader of the tournament who proved he deserved his trophy with 11 assists, kept Kambala going to the basket for easy dunks. He put up a solid performance with 32 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks. However, Mulaomerovic put the exclamation mark at the end of the match with a jumper 2.7 seconds to go in the game which turned to be the difference: 93-91.


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