|Emotions were sky-high on the Latvian bench after a thrilling clash between two excellent teams|
Latvia made Spain sweat for every single point on Friday and celebrated a famous 75-67 victory, their fourth in a row in the tournament, to clinch first place in Group C of the Sportland U20 European Championship.
By no means the biggest team in the tournament in terms of size, Latvia displayed once again a level of physicality and athleticism that Spain could only match for the first twenty minutes.
The Latvians kept their rivals to just five points in the third frame and scored 20 of their own to turn a 40-38 deficit at half-time to a 58-45 lead by the end of it.
Fans at Saku Suurhall arena in Tallinn enjoyed a clash between two sides who are blessed with sets of young players that possess the fundamentals of basketball and have excellent technical skills.
What shifted the balance in favour of the Latvians was ultimately the fact that they were highly-motivated to perform at 101% at any given moment on the floor and had the athletic capacity, stamina, and determination to achieve it.
They out-rebounded Spain 49-44 and were relentless on the defensive end, never giving away any open looks and forcing them to shoot only 37 percent from the floor.
When Spain resorted to a half-court zone press in the final stretch in a last attempt at a comeback, the Latvians had the tactical awareness to come through and only had their advantage reduced, but where never threatened.
Point guard Kaspars Vecvagars guided his team-mates superbly and collected 22 points and three rebounds, Ingus Jakovics finished with 16 points and four assists and tournament top-rebounder Ojars Silins collected a double-double of 10 points and 12 boards.
For Spain, Daniel Diez finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds and Guillem Vives had 14 points in defeat.