|Kaspars Vecvagars was unstoppable in stretches for Latvia|
Latvia clinched an 82-69 win over Bulgaria at the Sportland U20 European Championship on Thursday to punch their ticket to the Second Round of the tournament in Tallinn.
The Baltic side now hold a 3-0 record and are sure to finish either first or second in Group C, while Bulgaria have suffered a second defeat in as many games but can still hope to take at least third spot, which also leads to the second round.
Latvia led right from tip-off, never gave up the lead and even kept it close to or above double-digit levels through most of the second half.
They kept however feeling Bulgaria's hot breath on their necks up until the final four minutes in the clash, when they went on a 13-4 run that sealed victory.
Kaspars Vecvagars assisted Janis Berzins under the Bulgarian basket with 4:04 left in the game and the latter's lay-up made it 71-65 for Latvia.
Then Vecvagars scored nine points in quick succession, either with jumpers or from the free-throw line, to rule out a late Bulgarian comeback.
Latvia prevailed mainly thanks to their dominance inside, as they out-rebounded their opponents 45 to 29, blocked seven shots to Bulgaria's none and scored 34 points in the paint while Bulgaria relied heavily on longer-range shots and collected only 18 points under the basket.
Berzins paved the way for the victors with 19 points and 10 rebounds, Ojars Silins also registered a double-double, of 12 points and 13 boards, while Vecvagars finished with 17 points and three assists.
Bulgaria shooting guard Pavlin Ivanov hit five of his nine shots from behind the arc and finished with a game-high 20 points in a losing effort.