By David Hein
Latvia look to get their EuroBasket 2009 on track as they face off with France hoping to bag their first victory of the Preliminary Round Group B.
The last-minute qualifiers France meanwhile will secure a berth in the Qualifying Round if they can collect their second straight win.
Latvian coach Kestutis Kemzura admitted after his team's 81-68 opening loss against Russia that the Baltic team too often seemed lost on the floor. The fact that his NBA center Andris Biedrins was strapped with two early fouls and collected just six points and six rebounds did not help things.
As if the poor opening showing was not motivation enough, Biedrins will have even more drive knowing he will be squaring off against fellow NBA center Ronny Turiaf, with whom he played last season with the Golden State Warriors.
Biedrins will also be needed after Latvia were out-rebounded 33-30 by the smaller Russian team.
Vincent Collet's French on the other hand out-rebounded a tall German side 46-32, including 15 offensive rebounds, led by 14 total rebounds by Turiaf.
Down the stretch, the French did an excellent job opening up Tony Parker for shots and opportunities to get to the free throw line and the NBA star guard scored France's final 11 points of the game. Latvia must find a way to keep Parker under wraps to have a chance.
Also, with so many excellent low post players in this contest, another major key could be three-point shooting as both teams would like to create some extra space for their big men.
Head to Head: France and Latvia are 2-2 all time - though they have not faced off at the European Championship since 1939. The teams faced off in the EuroBasket 2003 Semi-Final Round.
Last Time Out: Latvia lost their opener against Russia 81-68 while France held on to beat Germany 70-65.
Key Match-up: Kristers Valters vs. Tony Parker. Point guard Valters was unable to stop Russian playmaker Sergey Bykov from scoring 22 points and dishing four assists in Latvia's loss against Russia. Parker meanwhile burned Germany for 19 points, six rebounds and four assists.
X-Factor: Andris Biedrins. Latvia's NBA big man was hampered with foul trouble early against Russia on his way collecting just six points, six rebounds and one block in 22 minutes. Biedrins must bounce back if Latvia hope to grab their first victory.
Key stat: 18 of 33. France made just 55 percent of their free throws in a five-point victory over Germany.
Sounding off: "It was a tough loss (against Russia) for us. But still we have a second and a third chance. We didn't play as we expected and how we can. But we have potential. We have to find the heart inside of every player and fight again. There is no other way. We came here to fight for every game." -Latvia coach Kestutis Kemzura