Latvia Handed Valuable Lesson

15 July 2014
8. Digna Strautmane (Latvia)
Digna Strautmane is an important part of Latvia's team

Latvia head coach Ainars Cukste is looking for his players to learn the lessons of their Baltic Cup loss ahead of the U16 European Championship Women later this month in Hungary.

Despite getting off to a scorching start in the decisive game of the competition, his team had to settle for second place at the annual event after losing 59-44 to hosts Lithuania in Panevezys.

"We started the game aggressively and rather nicely at 13-2, but the Lithuanian team then dictated to us after adapting to our style," mused Cukste.

"They created a solid pressure and we just did not react.

"The physical exertion was sufficient for the girls because court time was divided equally and we did not show any exhaustion after the match - but we could just not get the ball in the basket."

The early Latvian lead certainly melted away rapidly and while the game still hung in the balance heading into the second half, their offence went into meltdown when the action resumed - not helped by an ankle injury to the influential Laura Grabe.

Digna Strautmane who like Grabe helped Latvia reach the quarter-finals of the U16 European Championship Women last year, finished with an eye-catching double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds.

She led the team in points, rebounds and blocked shots last summer and is once again likely to carry the bulk of Latvia's hopes on her shoulders.

Earlier in the tournament, Latvia had gained confidence from an impressive 61-44 success against Sweden on opening day, which was followed up by an 83-42 victory against Estonia.

Katrina Kruma, Liga Kalniņa and Anda Kuzmina will be added to the 12 players who competed in the Baltic Cup as Cukste decides on his final roster for Debrecen during the coming weeks.

Latvia will also have the chance to extract revenge on their neighbours since they will re-engage with a double-header against Lithuanian on 21 and 22 July.


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