RIGA - Around 5,000 basketball fans had gathered by the Freedom Monument in Riga on Monday afternoon to welcome home the Latvian national men's basketball team, according to the State Police's estimates.
State Police spokeswoman Simona Gravite told LETA that the event passed off without significant incidents but that police officers continue to patrol the streets of the capital city to ensure public order and security.
As reported, several thousand people in Riga on Monday welcomed home the Latvian national men's basketball team after their surprisingly successful run in their first ever FIBA World Cup.
The Latvian basketballers, who finished the tournament in the fifth place, were greeted at Riga Airport by their relatives. They then boarded a special double-deck bus which took them to the Freedom Monument in downtown Riga for a festive welcoming ceremony.
Basketball fans thronged on the sidewalks to cheer on the athletes as they were driven from the airport to the city center. The fans waved Latvian national flags, applauded and clapped hands in show of appreciation.
As the bus approached the city center, it had to slow down to make its way through the crowd who chanted greetings to the athletes.
Several thousand fans, many of them wearing the national basketball team's jerseys, gathered in the square in front of the Freedom Monument where a stage had been installed for the celebratory occasion.
The athletes were greeted by several state and municipal officials, including President Edgars Rinkevics, Riga Mayor Vilnis Kirsis (New Unity) and Education and Science Minister Anda Caksa (New Unity).
The event by the Freedom Monument started with singing the Latvian national anthem.
As LETA observed, NBA star Kristaps Porzingis and national team member Klavs Cavars had not arrived in Riga together with the rest of the players.
As reported, in its first ever FIBA World Cup, the Latvian national men's basketball team advanced to the quarterfinals, losing to Germany in a heartbreaker 79:81.
In the semifinal match for 5th to 8th place today, Latvia defeated both Italy 87:82 and Lithuania 98: 63, taking the fifth spot.