Latvia secured their spot in the next round of EuroBasket 2007 with a tough 77-73 win over Israel on Tuesday night in Group A in Vasto.
On the other end Israel dropped to 0-2 and will have to beat Turkey tomorrow on the last day to make it to the next round.
|Liad Suez Karni's 21 points and six rebounds was nearly enough for Israel to pull the upset.|
For the vast majority of the game the arrow pointed at the Israeli side, but Latvia stepped up in the last quarter, showed character and prevailed.
"We allowed them to come back to the game, and that's where we lost it," concluded Meirav Dori of Israel.
"It's a really bad feeling to lose the game like that. We lost the momentum and they made some great shots in the last quarter."
Latvia had the lead going into the last two minutes of the game, but Israel still had a chance.
Liad Suez, who scored a team high of 21 points and pulled in six rebounds, dribbled down the court in the last 13 seconds with Israel down by two, but lost the ball and Zane Eglite secured the win from the line.
"We didn't play so good in the first three quarters," said Gunta Basko of Latvia. "We missed easy shots and didn't play good defense, but in the last quarter Anete stepped up and the whole team played better."
Anete Jekabsone-Zogota was the top scorer of the game with 28 points including five hits from long range.
24 of those points came in the second half, but she scored eight in the last 3:34 of the game, exactly when it hurt Israel the most.
"I don't care how much I score. If I make 20 points and we lose it means nothing, but when we lose by four and I finish with zero it means something," said Shai Doron of Israel, who missed all her four shots from the field and two from the line.
"We should have won this game. It was in our hands, but I don't want to analyze it right now. We just need to regroup for tomorrow," she concluded.
Latvia continued their great performance from yesterday with a 10-2 start after three minutes.
Katia Abramzon and Liad Suez made a difference for Israel with two three-point plays, but Latvia continued to hold the lead, and finished the first quarter up 17-12.
The second quarter was nothing but an individual performance of Suez.
The Israeli forward carried her team all the way to a great quarter.
She scored six points in a row in 12-2 run which put Israel on top, but didn't stop there.
Israel climbed to a double-digit margin, with Liron Cohen and Abramzon joining Suez with long range aces, to finish the quarter with a 39-30 lead.
Suez had 14 points in that quarter, one point more the entire Latvian team, and the exact difference between the two in the quarter score, 27-13.
It took Latvia a little over four minutes to be back in the game.
Jekabsone-Zogota connected on seven points in a row to make it 43-43, but Israel never allowed the weight to move to the other side.
Suez added two more points to break a two minute drought on both sides and make it 61-55, but Latvia didn't give up.
With a 9-1 run, led by Jekabsone-Zogota and Gunta Basko they took back the lead, only to see Israel answer with a 6-0 run and make it 68-64 for the blue and whites.
Then it was time for Jekabsone-Zogota to start her eight point blitz with two hits from long range.
She turned it over for the last time with less than three minutes in the game.
Abramzon stepped up with big plays, but her three-pointer went in-and-out and with 40 seconds on the clock Latvia had the ball and a two point lead.
Israel made one last effort before Suez lost the ball.