Latvia earned a key 61-58 win France in a close Group B battle at the Lietuvos Rytas Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania on Friday afternoon, and celebrated its spot in the next round.
With this win Latvia stand on a 2-0 record before the closing day of the Preliminary Round, while France is in trouble with a 0-2 balance and will be forced to win tomorrow to avoid the relegation games.
The first half was dominated by Latvia, but the French side showed great character by fighting their way back to the game, but managed only to tie the score.
Edmunds Dukulis led Latvia with 13 points, Andris Misters added 12 and Janis Timma had 10 for the winning side.
Valentin Bigote hit 16 points for France and saw Rudy Gobert added 15 with 11 rebounds.
A close first quarter was dismissed by a great performance by Latvia in the following.
After France tied it at 21-21 it was time for Timma and Dukulis to spark an 8-0 run, and Timma had a great finish in Latvia's last play in the half with a jumper that capped another 7-0 run, enough for a 38-25 half time lead.
Things didn't look well for France early in the 2nd half when the scoreboard displayed a 45-28 score, but a step up defense limited Latvia to only 2 points in the last 5 minutes of the quarter, which the duo Gobert and Bigote used to run 2-15 and re-open the game.
Yannis Morin dunked to write a 54-54 tie with 4:08 on the game clock, but Davis Bertans stepped up with 5 points in a row, out of total 8 in the game, to silence the French bench.
Another dunk by Gobert moved France within a one possession from tying but Bigote twice and Thomas Ceci right before the buzzer missed from the arc, and saw the 2nd defeat flashing on the board.
The next day Latvia will try to win the top spot in the group against Spain, while France will take on Sweden in hope of their first win.