Kambala Hoping To Make Up For Late Arrival

30.08.2005

Kaspars Kambala still hears criticism over his failure to join up with Latvia's national side on time.

"I am trying to ignore it," he said to Diena, a Latvian newspaper.

The 2.05m centre arrived in Europe from the United States a week after he was expected.

"First I was preparing for NBA summer league," he said. "Then in Las Vegas, I was working in a sports hall with the students at my former university (UNLV).

"In addition, I had weights and a basketball court at home. All the time I was doing something."

Kambala says his tardiness couldn't be helped.

"It was not my fault," Kambala insisted. "Along with my wife and little son, we got on a plane in Las Vegas on time.

I did not want to leave my family and squeeze my legs into economy class
Kaspars Kambala
"But it was late getting to Washington, and we missed our next flight.

"There are circumstances that I cannot control.

"Three tickets in business class were available only a week later, and I did not want to leave my family and squeeze my legs into economy class."

No matter what happened, Latvia could end up paying for Kambala's late arrival.

Coach Karlis Muiznieks admitted the first training sessions with Kambala did not go well.

"During the practice, we had problems in that he does not know our schemes," Muiznieks said.

"This is logical and this is why we wanted him earlier.

"But everything is in his hands - to prove his value in practices and games."

Whether the excuses about being late are valid or not, the question has to be asked why a national side will persist with a player like Kambala when he does not show up on time.

The answer is simple.

Kaspars Kambala (#15, UNICS)
Kaspars Kambala
Latvia are a dangerous team because of their three-point shooting, but only if a player like Kambala gives them a strong presence under the basket.

In Norrkopping, Sweden, the venue for Latvia's EuroBasket 2003 opener against Baltic rivals Lithuania, Kambala played 42 minutes, scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

The Latvians gave as good as they got in that contest, and nearly won. They had a chance at the end of regulation but missed a potential game-winning shot.

Lithuania ended up winning 92-91 in overtime.

Often, however, Kambala is not the force he needs to be. In the next two games, he had six and 10 points as Latvia lost to Germany and Israel, respectively, and bowed out of the event.

For UNICS Kazan last season, Kambala again under-performed.

"Every problem has its cause," he said. "Last season in Kazan, everything went well as long as I was allowed to play.

"But then I had a conflict with the coach. Not only me, but half the team had a conflict with him - many decisions were illogical and unfair.

"That's why half of the season I could not show my potential."

Latvia, who are in EuroBasket Group D with hosts Serbia & Montenegro, Spain and the side that wins the additional qualifying tournament, will be hoping he learns the team's plays in time, and that he reaches his full potential in September.


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