Latvia, the surprise team of the FIBA World Cup 2023, continued its impressive run by defeating Italy 97-90 in the 5-8 classification game on Thursday. The Baltic nation, which made its debut in the tournament, will now play for the fifth place against the winner of Lithuania and Slovenia.
Latvia’s balanced attack
Latvia showed its offensive prowess by having six players score in double figures, led by Davis Bertans with 22 points. The Washington Wizards forward also grabbed seven rebounds and made four three-pointers. Kristaps Porzingis, the star of the team, added 18 points, nine rebounds and four blocks, while Janis Timma chipped in 17 points and six assists.
Latvia shot 50% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc, making 16 triples in total. The team also shared the ball well, recording 25 assists on 35 made field goals. Latvia outscored Italy in every quarter except the third, where the Italians made a brief comeback.
Italy’s disappointing performance
Italy, on the other hand, had a disappointing performance after losing by 37 points to Team USA in the quarterfinals. The team struggled to contain Latvia’s shooters and big men, allowing them to score at will. Italy also committed 15 turnovers, which led to 21 points for Latvia.
The only bright spot for Italy was Danilo Gallinari, who scored a game-high 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting. The Atlanta Hawks forward also had six rebounds and three assists. Marco Belinelli added 16 points, while Nicolo Melli had 14 points and seven rebounds.
Italy will now play for the seventh place against the loser of Lithuania and Slovenia.
Latvia’s historic run
Latvia has been one of the most surprising teams in the FIBA World Cup 2023, as it reached the quarterfinals in its first appearance. The team beat some of the powerhouses of international basketball, such as France, Spain and Brazil, in the group stage and the second round. Latvia also gave Germany a tough fight in the quarterfinals, losing by only two points after a missed three-pointer by Bertans at the buzzer.
Latvia has shown that it has a talented and cohesive roster, led by NBA stars Porzingis and Bertans. The team also has other players who play in top European leagues, such as Timma, Rolands Smits and Anzejs Pasecniks. Latvia has proven that it can compete with any team in the world and has earned respect from its opponents.
Latvia will try to finish its historic run on a high note by playing for the fifth place on Saturday.