|William Howard stepped up for France with 17 points and 6 rebounds|
France concluded on Wednesday the Second Round at the Sportland U20 European Championship with a morale-boosting 79-74 victory over previously unbeaten Latvia.
The result was however of no further consequence to either team, as Latvia had secured first place in Group F prior to tip-off while France had already been left with no options to advance to the quarter-finals and will play in the Classification Round for 9th to 12th place.
France scored the first points in the encounter and, with the exception of one occasion during the early exchanges when Latvia tied the scores, Les Bleus were in the lead from a safe distance for most of the night.
The French took the game inside, won the battle on the glass emphatically (out-rebounded Latvia 21-9 at half-time and 37-28 at the end) and scored 42 points in the paint, to Latvia's 20.
Their shot selection was in fact optimal from all ranges, as they hit four of their first eight triples and shot above 63 percent for the duration of the first half to take a 48-40 lead at the interval.
Not content with that, they went on a 13-2 run in the third period that Hugo Invernizzi capped off with a dunk to make it 63-47 with 1:55 left to play in the period.
Latvia had seen enough and decided to give a dramatic twist to the finale.
Roberts Krumins sunk a triple 3:12 for the final buzzer to reduce the gap to 74-62 and spark a ferocious Latvian 16-2 run.
When Edgars Stelmahers drilled another three-pointer with 17 seconds left on the clock to cap it off and bring Latvia within just two points, 76-74, the Latvians believed they can turn it around but Kevin Harley split two free throws to make it a three-point game and Krumins this time missed the triple to tie the scores.
Latvia fouled Harley again but this time he sunk both free throws to write the final score.
William Howard paved the way for France with a 17-point, six-rebound display and Alexandre Chassang finished with 14 points and five rebounds.
Peteris Rekis finished with 16 points and seven rebounds for Latvia in defeat.