Croatia came from behind to defeat Latvia 80-77 and clinch their first and crucial win of the group stages at Ierapetra tonight.
Ivan Batur scored 31 points and Toni Prostan added 28 for Vladimir Vanjak’s men who trailed 72-60 after Artjoms Butjankovs scored a lay up for Latvia with just under seven minutes left.
But Batur and Prostan – who combined for an impressive 11 for 18 shooting from three-point range – along with Matteo Juricic, then led a late and furious offensive onslaught that saw Croatia score 20 of the game’s last 25 points.
|Janis Antrops' 19 points weren't enough for Latvia. |
The Latvians were left to rue their missed opportunities of winning their second game of the group stages.
They entered the fourth quarter with a 58-55 lead and added to it in the first three minutes thanks in large part to Janis Antrops. But their offense then stalled and Croatia took over.
The result leaves Russia in big trouble in Group D as they are the only team not to have won yet. The two teams will meet in tomorrow’s last game in Ierapetra.
And Croatia’s assistant coach Umberto Piasevoli already has turned his attention to that encounter.
‘It will be an interesting game because we beat them by 25 points in a tournament in Turkey about a month ago but this year’s U16 European Championship Men has already thrown a few surprises, like Serbia only beating Israel by two points last night so we need to be careful,’ he said.
As for the hero of the day, he was just glad Croatia weren’t in the same hole as Russia.
‘It’s a great result for us to beat Latvia,’ said Batur.
‘It puts the pressure on Russia for tomorrow’s game but we will have to be at our best too.’
Harijs Rubenis led the way for Juris Petrovs’ men with 28 points while Antrops chipped in with 19.