by Dan Casey
|Mario Hezonja was cold from the floor, shooting 3/13 FG, but helped Croatia with 10 rebounds|
Croatia maintained their perfect record at the U16 European Championship Men with a 69-56 win over Latvia.
After a slow start, Croatia closed the first quarter with a a 12-2 run to surge ahead.
Latvia closed the second half with some defensive pressure, and an Armands Ginters lay-up cut the lead to two, 31-29.
But Dorian Jelenek hit a buzzer-beater to make the half-time score 33-29 to Croatia.
Croatia began the third quarter slowly as well, and a lay-up from Rolands Smits gave Latvia a 37-35 lead.
Croatia's defensive intensity picked up to hold the Latvia offense to just 6 points in the rest of the period and take a 54-45 lead. They held Latvia to 11 points in the final period to secure victory.
Croatia's edge on the boards was the decisive factor in the contest as they out-rebounded their opponents 53-36.
Tomislav Gabric recorded a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds, and Mario Hezonja added 8 points and 10 rebounds. Croatia were led by 15 points from Marko Arapovic and 13 points from Paolo Marinelli.
Latvia's top-scorer was Davis Geks with 16 points. Latvia will play Italy tomorrow and the winner will take the final Quater-Final spot from Qualifying Round Group F.