Referees: Borys Ryzhyk (UKR), Apostolos Kalpakas (SWE), Sergey Krug (RUS)
Latvia Blow Away Portugal To Stay Top
Latvia stormed to their third victory in as many games with a 79-43 home triumph over reeling Portugal on Wednesday in EuroBasket 2009 qualifying Group B.
Andris Biedrins, the Latvians' outstanding center, had 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Victory over the Portuguese will have been sweet revenge for Biedrins and Co for it was Portugal that denied the Baltic country a place in the Quarter-Final Qualifying Round at last year's EuroBasket.
That Portuguese team was coached by Valentyn Melnychuk and they were one of the surprise stories of the summer.
Moncho Lopez is now in charge of Portugal following Melnychuk's departure to Ukraine and results have been awful in their qualifying campaign with defeats also coming against Estonia and FYR Macedonia.
Biedrins capped a 7-0 spurt for Portugal to start the game with a three-point play.
By the end of the first quarter, the Latvia lead was 19-9 but Portugal managed to close the gap to eight at 29-21 with just under four minutes remaining in the first half.
Biedrins took his points haul to 13 with a jumper and gave Latvia a 38-25 lead at half-time, only for Portugal to hang tough.
An Elvis Evora jump shot made it 40-31 with 5:46 to go in the third quarter.
That's when Latvia took command for good.
Janis Blums and Uvis Helmanis connected from three-point range and Kristaps Valters followed with a jumper as Latvia opened a 48-31 lead.
There was no way back for Portugal.
Carlos Andrade finished with 15 points for the Portuguese.
Latvia finished nine of 29 (31%) from behind the arc while Portugal were four of 25 (16%).
The home side also out-rebounded Portugal 42-34.
Quotes Latvia vs. Portugal
Carlos Andrade, Portugal player:
"Today we played against a very good team. When we came to the game, we knew that we will have to play against a really good defensive team. We tried to surprise the Latvian team with different combinations, but we didn't focus well enough, so congratulations to the winners."
Ramon Lopez Suarez, Portugal coach:
"We played a good game with very good smart defense, but we found a lot of troubles in offense. Latvia played a really good defense, so we didn't have many open shots and those we had we missed. In the second half Latvia opened the game with fast breaks, and we totally lost our concentration."
Kristaps Valters, Latvia player:
"Today we started to struggle in offense when they started changing their defense, but later we broke the game open and continued to increase the difference. I feel better with each game, more confident about myself. We all feel each other better on the court with each game so everything should be ok."
Nenad Trajkovic, Latvia coach:
"Today we played really good defense. Everybody understood how important this game is for us so we didn't have problems with focusing. The players showed that they wanted to win, but we had some problems against their matchup zone that we didn't try out in practices, so we needed some time to adapt to it. We used their switching defense that created a lot of open shots for us. Today we tried to play faster with more pick n' rolls and that paid off."