Latvia set their foot in the quarter-final round after a 63-59 win over Poland in Group E of the OMNITEL U18 European Championship at the Lietuvos Rytas Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania on Tuesday night.
|Davis Bertans was back on track and carried his team into the Quarter-Finals|
After the loss to Slovenia yesterday the Latvian proved they can recover quickly and won a hard-nosed battle for the top spots in the group.
Tomorrow the victorious Baltic side will take on Lithuania and the winner will take over the top spot in the group, while even in case of a loss the 2nd spot is secured for the Latvians after taking a 3-1 record in the group.
Poland dropped to 2-2 and will face France tomorrow, still with a small chance to drop out of the quarter-final picture.
Davis Bertans recovered from yesterdays's bad game with 16 points and 11 rebounds while Edmunds Dukulis added 11 with 7 rebounds.
Poland saw Tomasz Gielo top their list with 13 points and Bartlomiej Bartoszewicz adding 11.
The teams arrived to the game knowing the winner will get the quarter-final ticket already tonight, and the tension had its effect.
Both sides struggled to collect points, and by the end of the first quarter Latvia was up by 3, 14-11.
Bertans stepped up with 6 points in a row early in the 2nd quarter to open a 9 point gap, and after Poland cut on the difference Janis Timma hit from the arc, Bertans copied him and Kaspars Vecvagars followed for a 38-28 half time lead.
Poland seemed lost and scored their first points in the 2nd half only at the 26th minute, when Ponitka hit a jumper to cut the margin to 14, 44-30.
After entering the last 9 minutes with a 17 point lead, Latvia calmed down, and invited Poland to start their come back.
The back ups of Poland, led by Bartoszewicz and Gielo wrote a 3-16 run to arrive at the gates of the last 3 minutes down just by 4 points, 57-53.
Ponikta drove to score his 2nd field goal and cut the margin to just 3, but just when it mattered most, the Polish lost focus, and missed the opportunities to complete the come back.
The Latvians themselves missed free throws which kept the game alive, but time ran out before the Poles woke up again.