Sports in brief - 2012-06-14

  • 2012-06-13

The Latvian men’s football team has reclaimed the Baltic Cup with wins over Lithuania and Finland in the four-team bi-annual tournament which took place in Estonia from June 1 until June 3. Taking on Lithuania in the opening match of the tournament on June 1, Latvia never looked in any threat of losing, sweeping past Lithuania with a 5-0 victory, their biggest win over their neighbors since 1935, when they defeated the red-green-and-yellows 6-1. In the evening’s later game, Finland – who were making their Baltic Cup debut – defeated tournament hosts Estonia 2-1, sending them through to Sunday’s final to take on the Latvians. In the final Finland went ahead 1-0 in the 52nd minute, but just two minutes later Latvia evened the ledger through Edgars Gauracs. With no more goals coming in regular time, overtime, and subsequently a penalty shoot-out was required to determine the winner. It was there that Latvia finally prevailed, 6-5, with Vladislav Kozlovs striking the definitive sixth penalty shot. Earlier in the day Estonia defeated Lithuania, 1-0, to finish the tournament in third position. It was a disappointing tournament for Lithuania, who had earlier in the week drawn nil-all with Russia, just days out from Russia beginning their Euro 2012 campaign.

Estonian rally driver Georg Gross has won the 2012 Madona Rally, held in Latvia from June 8 until June 9. Driving a Ford Focus WRC, Gross and co-driver Raigo Molder began the nine-stage event cautiously, setting just the fourth quickest time on the opening stage. However, the pairing picked up the pace on the second stage, winning the next seven legs to be holding a 53.90 second buffer over Latvia’s Andis Neiksans going into the final stage of the rally. With the victory all but sewn up, Gross raced more conservatively on the final stage, setting just the fifth quickest time. However, with Neiksans only setting the 18th quickest time in his Mitsubishi Lancer, Gross’ overall lead was extended by over another eight seconds. Another Latvian, Janis Vorobjovs, also driving a Mitsubishi Lancer, rounded out the podium, finishing another seven seconds back on Neiksans. Seventy-five cars entered the rally, with the majority of entries received from Estonia. Drivers also travelled from Russia, Ukraine, Finland, Belarus and Lithuania for the event.

The Lithuanian men’s basketball team’s hopes of making it to the Olympics in London this summer have been dealt a severe blow following an injury to point guard Renaldas Seibutis. The Lietuvos Rytas play-maker was one of the in-form guards in Europe throughout the winter and was expected to play a key role in Lithuania’s chances of navigating a tricky qualifying tournament that will take place in Venezuela beginning on July 2. But last week his plans of going to South America came to a crashing halt when he clashed with a national squad team mate during training in Klaipeda, leaving him with multiple fractures to his cheekbone. Should Lithuania qualify for the Olympics, there is a chance that Seibutis will have made a sufficient recovery and be able to compete. It is the second significant setback for Kestutis Kemzura’s team with up-and-coming forward Donatas Motiejunas also unavailable for the South American tournament. The 21-year-old has opted out of the national team’s program this summer to instead focus on the next domestic season, when he is expected to make his NBA debut for the Houston Rockets. Since regaining independence in 1991, Lithuania has made the semi-finals of every men’s Olympic basketball event. The only other nation to match the feat is the United States.