MANILA, Philippines—Earlier than Latvia launched into its maiden Fiba World Cup journey, the gamers vowed to present their all for his or her countrymen whatever the circumstance.
Latvia made certain to maintain that promise on Thursday lower than 24 hours after bowing out of medal competition following a heartbreaking loss to Germany within the quarterfinal.
“We’re simply preserving our promise that we made once we left Latvia, we stated we’re gonna battle in each single sport it doesn’t matter what sport it’s. That was the message we relayed to one another,” stated ahead Davis Bertans.
That’s precisely what Latvia did because it scraped previous Italy, 87-82, within the classification spherical for an opportunity to complete fifth within the World Cup.
The Latvians overcame a torpid first quarter and held off the hard-fighting Italians who had been with out their star ahead Simone Fontecchio.
Latvia leaned on the recent fingers of Andrejs Grazulis, who unleashed 28 factors together with the game-clinching triple.
“It’s a gradual begin however we by no means let down. We saved preventing and received again within the sport and give you a win and have an opportunity to play within the fifth set,” stated Bertans, who will play for the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder this upcoming NBA season.
“Grazulis is unbelievable. He can rating in each means, proper, left, mid-range, threes, a number of the financial institution pictures, and all the pieces,” he added.
Enjoying with out injured NBA star Kristaps Porzingis, Latvia emerged as this World Cup’s Cinderella group.
Slotted in a troublesome group, the Latvians defied the chances and took down world energy France to safe a spot within the second spherical, the place they continued their fairytale run by taking down defending champion Spain for a spot within the quarterfinal.
Latvia got here shut to creating the semifinal with Bertans misfiring on a possible game-winning 3-pointer within the remaining seconds towards Germany.
Ending within the prime 5 could be an enormous accomplishment for Latvia and its followers again residence the place coach Luca Banchi stated Latvian children are even watching their video games inside their lecture rooms.
“It’s huge coming right here. No person anticipated us to be on this place, no one anticipated us on the highest eight. I feel some didn’t even anticipate us to be enjoying within the second group spherical within the prime 16. However we don’t care what folks take into consideration us. We hold preventing, we play for our nation and provides all the pieces we received,” stated the 6-foot-10 Bertans, who had 9 factors and 5 rebounds towards Italy.
Latvia battles Lithuania, which eased previous Slovenia, 100-84, on Saturday.
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