Latvia’s U-20 men’s national basketball team won silver at the European Basketball Championships in Tallinn on July 20, reports LETA. In the final game, Latvia was defeated by Italy, 67-60.
This is the second time that Latvia’s national basketball team, in any age group, played in the final of the European Championships. Latvian men’s basketball won the very first European Championships in 1935. Latvia also placed second in the 1939 championships that were won by Lithuania, but that time the competition was a single round-robin without playoffs. No other Latvian national team had advanced to the EuroBasket finals since then.
Both teams this time started the game aggressively, but eventually Latvia moved ahead, leading by five points halfway through the first quarter, which ended with the score 13-9 for Latvia. The second quarter continued much in the same vein; three-and-a-half minutes before the end of the first half, Latvia was leading by ten points, and a bit later it got twelve points ahead of Italy.
The third quarter was disastrous for Latvia. The offense was stalling, and the Italians not only pulled equal, but eventually moved ahead. At the end of the third quarter, Latvia was four points down.
In the fourth quarter Latvia scored eight unanswered points, taking the lead 52-50, but three-and-a-half minutes before the end of regulation time, it was 53-52 for Italy. A minute later, Italy hit a very important three-pointer and then another one, securing the lead at 61-54 with a minute and 44 seconds to play.
At the end of the match, Italy scored a few more points, while Latvia’s three-point attempts were unsuccessful.
In the bronze medal game earlier in the day, Spain defeated Russia, 70-63.