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Latvia Slip to Defeat

15 August 2003

Latvia rounded off a difficult week in preparation for next month's European Championships with a narrow 77-69 defeat by Russia.

Armands Kraulins' team were without Kaspars Kambala and Kristaps Valters and went down in front of a sell-out crowd in Riga.

Roberts Stelmahers racked up 16 points for the home side but it was not enough against the Russians, for whom Andrei Kirilenko scored 24 points.

"We need to believe that we can beat strong opponents like Russia," lamented coach Kraulins. "We could have done that on Thursday, but we just couldn't pull it off."

Latvia will be keen to get back to winning ways when they take on Australia on Saturday.

The side's confidence is currently at a low ebb following their defeat to 91-74 Bosnia at the international tournament in Sweden last weekend, which meant they finished runners-up. And with the European Championships just weeks away, Kraulins knows his side cannot afford to get on a losing streak.

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