|09 August 2013|
|Rolands Freimanis acknowledged that there is still a long way for Latvia to go despite a convincing win on Thursday night over Russia |
Latvia suffocated Russia on defence and registered a 72-52 win over their famed opponents in the first of two warm-up games between the two sides ahead of EuroBasket 2013, in Riga on Thursday night.
The new-look Russia of Vasily Karasev started promisingly and led their hosts 17-11 at the end of the opening quarter.
Latvia however took their guests by storm in the second frame and outscored them 31-11 in that period, turning the tables around once and for all.
Janis Blums paced the winners with 15 points, five rebounds and four assists and Rolands Freimanis added 13 points and six rebounds, but he was quick to put the win into perspective.
"Two years ago, a result like this would make us ecstatic, but now we are well aware that it does not mean so much," Freimanis offered.
"The coach after the game immediately emphasized the fact we committed over 20 turnovers.
"So no, no euphoria."
In case there were still any doubts about the effect of the victory on the emotional status of Latvia, coach Ainars Bagatskis made sure to hit the point home.
"There is no euphoria and there wont be," Bagatskis said.
"We made 24 turnovers and that is far too much.
"In the first quarter we didn't control our emotions and we wanted to do everything at once, without defending Russia's pick'n'roll offence well.
"When we started playing as we had said and as we were supposed to play, we took the initiative as our bench players came on.
"Our deep rotation provided us a high tempo and gave us the opportunity to play very intensely, that is our style."
The only two players to score in double digits for Russia were young winger Sergey Karasev, who finished with 15 points, and power forward Andrey Vorontsevich, who collected 11 points and four rebounds.
"I knew this game would not be easy, we have had a total of only 10 days of training hard and everyone still feels the load," said coach Karasev.
"Of course this big difference is uncomfortable, and we only scored 52 points.
"During the first seven minutes we played the way we want to play all the time, with aggressive defence and speed on offence, but we still need to develop our style.
The two teams face each other in a second friendly encounter on Friday night, again in Riga.
Latvia were drawn into First Round Group B at EuroBasket, together with Serbia, Lithuania, Montenegro, F.Y.R. Of Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Russia meanwhile are in Group D and will go up against Greece, Turkey, Italy, Finland and Sweden.