As Good As Advertised - Jekabsone Leads Latvia

02 September 2005

Latvia enjoyed a dream start to the EuroBasket Women by beating Poland 75-62 in Bursa.

Poland made it to Turkey by winning the additional qualifying tournament by they never got on track against a team led by the dynamic Anete Jekabsone.

A star with French giants Bourges, Jekabsone was called the Baltic country's key player entering the tournament and she lived up to her billing by erupting for 28 points on eight of 17 shooting, including six of 11 from behind the arc.

Gunta Basko (Latvia)
Gunta Basko weighed in with 12 points and 12 rebounds for Latvia
Jekabsone grabbed five rebounds, dished out three assists and came up with four steals in the Group A clash.

The Poles entered the tournament on a high after taking the last qualifying place.

They also walked onto the court with a sense of purpose as the bronze medal game defeat to Spain two years still burns in their memory.

That setback cost them dear.

The Spanish came back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter to stun Poland and not only pip them to bronze, but also to the final Olympic berth on offer to European teams.

Poland led for much of the first half against Latvia.

Anna Wielebnowska's lay-up gave them an 18-17 advantage nearly four minutes into the second quarter.

Latvia answered with a Jekabsone three-pointer, and though Ewelina Kobryn hit back for Poland to tie the contest at 20-20, the Latvians move back in front for good courtesy of Gunta Basko's three-pointer with four minutes to play before half-time.

Another Jekabsone three with nine seconds left gave Latvia a 32-27 lead at the interval.

Poland three times closed to within two points early in the third quarter, but Latvia kept their noses in front for the remainder of the game.

There were concerns for Latvia before the tournament after the loss of captain Ilze Ose-Hlebovicka, the team's point guard, to injury but 1.76m Jekabsone has the look of a big-time player - for one game at least. Liene Jansone weighed in with 14 points and Basko 12 for Latvia.

Agnieszka Bibrzycka had 20 points for Poland, who are playing without center Margo Dydek because of her WNBA commitments.

On Saturday, Latvia face Germany while Poland take on the Czech Republic.

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