Referees: Luigi Lamonica (ITA), Spyridon Gontas (GRE), Miroslav Tomov (BUL)
FYR Macedonia Avenge Defeat To Latvia
Revenge is sweet. That is what the fans of FYR of Macedonia will be saying on Saturday night after their team scraped an 80-78 win over Latvia to leapfrog the Baltic side into first place in Group B of EuroBasket Division A.
Beaten by a three-pointer at the buzzer in overtime in Riga in the first encounter between the sides, FYROM have won three straight since.
The two-point triumph also gives them the advantage in the goal differential tie-breaker should the teams finish with identical records.
Latvia lost despite an extraordinary effort from their center Andris Biedrins, who had 23 points and 18 rebounds.
The Latvians could have broken the hearts of the hosts again right at the end.
Trailing 80-78 after Vlado Ilievski sank one of two free throws for FYROM, Latvia got the ball in the hands of Janis Blums but his attempt from three-point range with six seconds left was off the mark.
Vrbica Stefanov had 16 points and both Riste Stefanov and Pero Antik contributed 14.
Todor Gecevski finished with 13 points for FYROM.
Each side has hard games remaining against Portugal and Estonia.
Quotes FYR of Macedonia vs. Latvia
Kristaps Valters, Latvia player:
"We played a solid game. The game was even, until the end, but we made a lot of turnovers, and that's why they won. They were the better team, and deserved the victory."
Nenad Trajkovic, Latvia coach:
"It was an even game, just like in Riga. We fought well, but unfortunately, we made a lot of errors and missed easy shots. We had our chance, but we missed the game winner, just like the way we scored in Riga. So, justice has been done."
Todor Gecevski, FYR of Macedonia player:
"We scored a vital win, which opens the doors of our qualifying to EuroBasket in Poland wide open. The key to victory was the number of turnovers. Latvia had 18, while we only had 5."
Jovica Arsic, FYR of Macedonia coach:
"I am very glad that we were able to win this game. I can say that we can play much better, but the long trips and short intervals in between matches make my players suffer. Still, it was a very good game, our team showed a lot of fighting spirit, and the crowd were behind us, helping us to achieve this famous victory."