Riga Ready To Rock As Hosts Face Spain
Warning: Anyone planning to watch Latvia's clash with undefeated Spain on Monday should buckle up and get ready for the ride of your lives because these two high-octane teams like to play the game at 100 miles per hour.
Latvia are looking to bounce back from their first slip of the summer, a 78-69 defeat in the Arena Riga to Slovakia.
Ainars Zvirgzdins' team caved in against the Slovakia defense. Against Spain, the Latvians will face plenty of pressure again.
"The Spain team is very good offense and defense," Zvirgzdins said. "We have to be ready for a hard game but I trust all my players. We will do everything we can and try to play better."
Evaristo Perez knows that with the home-court advantage in the Arena Riga, Latvia will be tough.
"It's a considerable rival," Perez said. "Since the EuroBasket in Italy, they have grown a lot.
"I think it's going to be a very difficult game and very level. We hope that our weapons against them will stop them."
Last Time Out: Spain beat Latvia 69-50 in the Quarter-Finals of the EuroBasket Women four years ago in Ankara, with Amaya Valdemoro having a game-high 17 points in that contest.
Stats: Latvia committed 21 turnovers against Slovakia, came up with just seven steals and were out-rebounded 42-35. Spain prevailed against Poland despite losing the battle of the boards, 52-40.
Key Match-Up: Spain's Laia Palau vs Anete Jekabsone-Zogota. Palau has faced some tough challenges in guarding the likes of Poland's Agnieszka Bibrzycka and Greece's Evina Maltsi in the tournament. Limiting the leading scorer in the tournament Jekabsone-Zogota (23.2ppg) is the kind of challenge the Ros Casares shooting guard thrives on.
X-Factor: Spanish superstar Valdemoro is set to make her first appearance in the tournament on Monday. Valdemoro recovered from a calf injury only for a tooth problem to deny her a debut in Latvia against Poland.
Sounding-Off: "Latvia and Spain have shown so far that they are the best teams but you have to prove that every day" - Spain's head coach Evaristo Perez.