|Latvia's hero on Thursday night, Kristaps Janicenoks, was unaware of the personal milestone he reached in the same game|
By Rob White
Veteran Kristaps Janicenoks scored his 1,000th point for the Latvian men's team in Thursday's dramatic one-point win over Montenegro.
The 30-year-old Janicenoks capped off his special night by hitting two of the biggest shots of his career, twice rising for jump shots in the right corner in the final 32 seconds to propel Latvia over Montenegro, the last jumper coming with just six seconds remaining in the game.
"I will remember this game as a big and important victory for the Latvian national team against a strong opponent in Montenegro which extend our chances to qualify for next round," a humble Janicenoks told FIBAEurope.com.
"I didn't find out about the 1,000 points until after the game because I'm not that interested in statistics. I'm proud to have played many years for my country and to be a part of the national team in important tournaments."
Janicenoks refused to pay too much attention to his individual achievement and was far more happy about Latvia's 2-0 start to EuroBasket 2013.
"Janis Blums made a great assist. I had a long time to prepare for the shot and to stay cool," he said, referring to the winning play.
"During my career I have made some crucial shoots and know inside my head will always be very calm during those moments."
Janicenoks moved into fourth position overall in Latvia's all-time scoring records, creeping a little closer to Latvian head coach Ainars Bagatskis' national team scoring record of 2,160 career points.
"Kristaps is one of the most experienced players in our young team and a real leader not only on the court, but also in locker room too," Bagatskis said.
"He does a lot of good things on the court and helps our team play smarter. I hope Kristaps will be the second player to reach the 2,000 point mark for Latvia and I'm sure all Latvian supporters would agree with me."
At age 30, Janicenoks has reached his prime, but has not ruled out extending the hunt for his coach's illustrious record.
"I will play as long as I can help my team," Janicenoks said ahead of Latvia's third game against old rival Lithuania.
"No athlete can answer how long they will extend their career. I'm 30 now and reached my 1,000 points. I don't know how long I will stay on the court with the national team, but I try to do my best in every single game. About the 2000 points mark...we will see."