|14 July 2014|
|Rolands Smits came up big with a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double |
Latvia gave up just six points to Bulgaria in the final seven minutes of their Group G clash on Monday to kick off the U20 European Championship Classification Games for 13th to 20th Place with a 69-63 win.
Turning Point: Latvia had edged ahead late in the fourth and were leading 65-63 going into the final two minutes. Bulgaria missed back-to-back three-point attempts and while they kept the possession alive with a third offensive rebound, Rolands Smits dispossessed Deyan Karamfilov and dunked in the open floor to make it 67-63 for Latvia, with 1:01 remaining to the final buzzer.
Game Hero: Smits had the energy to play excellent defence on tournament leading scorer Aleksandar Vezenkov during long stretches and still pace his team on the offensive end. The Latvian big man collected a double-double of a game-high 17 points and ten rebounds.
Stats Don't Lie: Bulgaria misfired on seven consecutive three-pointers after they lost the lead in the final quarter. Latvia raised their aggressiveness on defence in the clutch and were rewarded with nine crucial steals.
The Bottom Line: Latvia have commenced their Group G schedule as joint leaders, together with Sweden. Bulgaria along with Montenegro stand at 0-1 in the group.