|Tomislav Gabric and Croatia silenced Arena Riga with a determined third quarter fightback|
Turning Point: Kristaps Porzingis being given an unsportsmanlike foul with 03:45 remaining in the third quarter and Latvia holding a slender three-point lead. The tides were beginning to change and without their most influential player on the court it became a tidal wave, only lessened by a spirited late comeback.
Game Hero: Domagoj Bosnjak saved Croatia from a huge collapse, scoring on two critical drives in the final stages as Latvia returned from a 12-point final quarter deficit.
Stats Don't Lie: With their inside presence effectively halved, Latvia's outside shooting failed to compensate, with their snipers only hitting 21.7% of their three-pointers.
Croatia fought off a desperate late comeback from Latvia to secure a 72-68 win and book a spot in the final of the U18 European Championship.
Anzejs Pasecniks needed to produce a nine-point opening quarter as Croatia and Paolo Marinelli refused to be intimidated by the boisterous Latvian home crowd. Marinelli scored 10 and handed out two assists, enough for the Croatians to stay within five points at the first break.
Latvia's big man rotation came into play at the other end of the court in the second quarter, forcing Croatia into a number of easy misses around the rim. With their three-point shot also off, Croatia's 2-for-10 shooting in the paint triggered a run that saw the hosts extend a lead that twice grew to as large as 12.
Latvia struggled mightly from the field in the third quarter and lost Kristaps Porzingis when the important big man picked up his fifth personal on an unsportsmanlike foul. Croatia reluctantly took their first lead since the opening minutes of game, getting there despite missing some nervous free throws.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Croatia extended their lead courtesy of eight unanswered points stretching from the final stages of the third quarter into the fourth, but Latvia, down 12 with six minutes to play, staged a huge comeback.
Ivars Zvigurs led the assault by scoring on three tough drives, helping Latvia cut the lead to just two with 1:15 remaining. With nothing going Croatia's way, Domagoj Bosnjak scored five points over the final 90 seconds before Marinelli finished off Latvia at the free-throw line.
Marinelli registered 16 points and five assists and big man Karlo Zganec held his own against Latvia's front court, collecting a 15-point, 12-rebound double-double.
Zvigurs and Pasecniks scored 18 and 17 respectively for Latvia.