|23 April 2009|
Latvia coach Ainars Zvirgzdins is in a very positive frame of mind these days, just several weeks before the start of the EuroBasket Women.
It's down to several reasons.
Zvirgzdins, who won the Cup of Latvia with the Jurmala girls team in 1993, and the Latvian championship with powerhouse TTT Riga in 2001, captured another this season.
After taking the helm of SK Cesis in January, he guided the outfit to its first league crown with a 3-0 sweep of TTT Riga in the play-off finals.
He saw strong performances by Latvian players, and witnessed the kind of enthusiasm among supporters that should make the EuroBasket Women a huge success.
"The Latvian ballers played well during play-offs, facing a number of WNBA players," Zvirgzdins said to www.eSports.lv.
"It`s nice to earn a Latvian gold and nice that Cesis achieved it for the first time. Second, I am grateful to our fans. They proved that women's basketball is exciting and travelled to Riga in big numbers."
Four hundred fans followed the team to Riga from Cesis, which has a population of just 18,000.
"The atmosphere was great," Zvirgzdins said.
"I think we can expect the same during the European Championship in Liepaja, Valmiera and Riga."
The coach gave high marks to his team, and to the Riga players.
"The national team candidates from TTT Riga showed they can be dangerous opponents. They tried to excel and will be a good addition for Team Latvia."
To celebrate the success, SK Cesis took a trip to London for the Easter Holidays and did some sightseeing.
After visiting the Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and other famous locations, the team returned home to host the Final Four of the Baltic Women`s Basketball league.
That's when the celebrations ended.
Baltic League Final Four
The Baltic Queens from Teo Vilnius, who are led by Lithuania national team boss Rutenis Paulauskas, cruised to a 10th straight Baltic League crown by beating TTT Riga 77-55 in the semi-finals and Cesis 68-47 in the gold medal game.
"We lacked firepower in the final game," Zvirgzdins said.
"There weren't enough players to grab more rebounds and some players got sick after the trip to the UK.
"Once more, I liked how Aija Brumermane and Dita Krumberga from TTT Riga played, and also forward Ieva Veinberga.
"However, the players from Cesis must improve on their performance to secure spots in national team."
Cesis have three Olympians - veteran forward Ieva Tare and guards Anda Eibele and Elina Babkina - and two other national team hopefuls.
They are shooting guard Santa Dreimane, who got injured at the end of 2007 and didn't play for nine months in 2008, and Kristine Karklina, a point guard who was in the junior national teams with Anete Jekabsone-Zogota.