Latvian Confidence Up Ahead Of Slovenia

30 August 2013

EUROBASKET 2013

7. Janis Blums (Latvia)
Janis Blums will have more veteran support this time around, running the Latvia offence

Latvia will arrive in Jesenice to take on Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday with their confidence riding high following back-to-back wins over a highly fancied Finnish team in Finland.

In their final warm-up games ahead of EuroBasket, the Latvians made the journey across the Baltic Sea to take on Henrik Dettmann's troupes, winning the first outing on Wednesday night 90-84, then the second, an evening later, 106-70.

However, not so much should be read into the second result, given it took place behind closed doors and was treated more like a scrimmage with the scores being reset to zero at the beginning of each quarter.

But the Wednesday night game can be used as a good indicator of how Latvia will look when they take to the court in Slovenia with head coach Ainars Bagatskis going for a relatively settled lineup that will likely have Janis Blums conducting the backcourt in conjunction with Janis Strelnieks whilst Kristaps Janicenoks will run the wing and Kaspars Berzins will control the paint.

Bagatskis made claims supporting this line of thought following the game, being quoted as saying it was important that the team's leaders were in the game and playing in their properly allocated roles.

 

Mareks Mejeris (Latvia)
Top-scored off the bench: Mareks Mejeris

The biggest question remains over the power forward position with Martins Meiers beginning the game but only playing five minutes whilst Mareks Mejeris and Rolands Freimanis both played a shade under 18 minutes off the bench - the former standing out a team-high 16 points.

Down by four at the change of ends, Latvia exploded in the third quarter with Mejeris lighting it up inside as they developed a handy eight-point buffer going into the final frame.

There would have been mixed feelings for Bagatskis in the last 10 minutes, as credit to his team, they held on for the win in a tight finish - something they did not do once at EuroBasket 2011 - but at the same time it should not have been a close game as complacency almost cost them.

"From the very end of the first half up until the 26th minute, [our] controlling the ball was great," said the Latvian playcaller, before adding, "However, when there was less than four minutes to play and we had a 12-point lead, we began to think the win would come easily and we became adventurous and were improvising, rather than playing logically.

"We gave up six offensive rebounds and made a further six errors [in the last three minutes]. Without these numbers the game statistics would have read differently."

The two-game series was also the final warm-up games for Finland who begin their EuroBasket campaign when they take on Turkey in their opening Group D encounter.

 


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