Latvia Knock Down Old Rivals

26 July 2013

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Kristaps Plavnieks (Latvia)
Kristaps Plavnieks controlled the ball at the back of the court with confidence for Latvia picking up five assists and four steals

Turning Point: Lithuanian big man Domantas Sabonis spent a stretch on the bench during the third quarter with a thigh complaint and the Latvians used his absence to open a nine-point advantage, the biggest lead of the game up until that point.

Game Hero: Kristaps Porzingis played an outstanding game at both ends of the floor, using his mobility to find space in the paint while rebounding and blocking shots at the other end, finishing with 17 points and eight rebounds.

Stats Don't Lie: Latvia's greatest strength is their obvious size. Coach Nikolajs Mazurs made sure his side utilised that advantage as Latvia outscored their opponents 48-28 in the paint.

Latvia held out against old rivals and neighbours Lithuania on Friday night to record a 71-54 victory and move into the semi-finals on home soil.

Lithuania's Domantis Sabonis seemed intent on negating Latvia's size advantage himself early in the contest, aggressively pursuing the ball at both ends, until Rolands Smits opted to seize the first quarter limelight instead, scoring eight points from all over the court as the host nation opened a five-point lead at the first break.

Lithuania hit the front at the seven-minute mark of the second quarter when Ricardas Verbickas scored six points in the space of a minute, but the highlight remained the match-up between mobile bigs Sabonis and Kristaps Porzingis as the halftime rolled around without a scoreboard leader.

With Sabonis on the bench, Latvia took turns scoring in the paint with Porzingis, Anzejs Pasecniks, Ivars Zvigurs and Armands Ginters all converting easy baskets as Latvia opened up a significant lead.

The hosts rolled on in the third term, allowing just seven Lithuanian points while opening up a game-high 17-point lead.

Porzingis starred in front of a loud Riga crowd, adding eight rebounds and six blocked shots to go along with his 17 points. Smits added 12 points.

Gediminas Zalalis led Lithuania with 13 points while Sabonis added 11 alongside 10 rebounds.

 


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