Latvia Duo Come Up Big Against Petrovic-Less Serbia


Latvia's speed topped a Petrovic-less Serbia 89-71 in the Quarter-Final of the U20 European Championship 2009 in Gdynia, Poland.

Ainars Cukste's team provoked havoc in the Serbian ranks with a 1-2-2 three-quarters press and Serbia never found the solution.

Serbia tears as Sonja Petrovic was not able to help the team against Latvia
The other story was the excellent outside-inside scoring combo of Latvia's Elina Babkina and Anete Steinberga.  Babkina already had 20 points by halftime and ended with game-highs in points (27) and assists (6).

"I feel excellent and I am really happy," said Babkina.

"Today we played as a team."

Steinberga was close behind with 26 points, seven boards and four steals. 

Nina Bogicevic did what she could for Serbia with 20 points and ten boards.

Serbia gave the ball away like it was Christmas time from the opening tip.

Latvia had 17 shot attempts in the first period to only seven by the out-of-synch Serbs.

Seven first-quarter turnovers, four of which occurred in the backcourt, led to a slew of  uncontested lay-ups for the Latvians. 

Those easy baskets, plus 13 points from Babkina, put Latvia ahead 28-18 after one period. 

"The key was our defense because individually they are very skilled so we had to play defense as a team and we broke them," said Babkina.

Serbia committed another seven turnovers in the second quarter. 

Latvia's quick hands and even quicker feet extended their lead to 21 points fuelled by Steinberga's ten points in the quarter.  They went into halftime up 20 points at 52-32.

Serbia were able to shave five points off the lead at the opening of the third, but Latvia settled down and it was soon clear that the halftime break had changed nothing on the court.

Serbian point guard and on-court leader Ana Dabovic, who hadn't rested one second of the game, picked up her fourth foul with 4:37 to go in the third period.

When her three-pointer rattled out moments later and she looked up at the scoreboard, her face told the whole story.

Serbia seemed lost in offense without their main weapon, Sonja Petrovic, who had to sit out yet another game because of a calf injury.

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