Despite the absence of top-ranked player Karlis Lasmanis, world no. two Riga Ghetto of Latvia still dominated Balanga Chooks-to-Go to open the 2019 FIBA 3X3 Jeddah Masters with a 22-11 (8:09) win, Saturday morning (Manila time).
Lasmanis, the MVP of the 2019 Chooks-to-Go Manila Challenger, has been declared out for the remained of the year due to a left ankle injury.
Still, the size of Riga Ghetto proved to be the difference against the all-Filipino Balanga squad.
Knotted at six all with seven minutes left, Edgars Krumins powered a 7-0 spurt to blow by the Filipinos.
The duo of Santi Santillan and Alvin Pasaol tried to rally Balanga back, but Riga had already heated up. It did not help that Balanga incurred its seventh team foul with 4:16 still left in the game.
Krumins finished what he started, scoring the game’s last five points — including a turnaround deuce with 1:51 left that served as the game-winner.
Krumins had 10 points in the game built on three deuces, while Nauris Miezis added eight markers.
Pasaol paced Balanga with six points. Santillan and Chris De Chavez chipped in three and two markers, respectively.
The loss sent Balanga to a must-win game versus France’s Lyon at 4:40 am to advance to the knockout stages of this max-level tournament.
This match was also the virtual rubber match between the two squads. Balanga stunned Riga during the Doha Masters last April, 21-17. Riga, however, silenced Balanga during the Manila Challenger, 22-15.
Balanga 11 – Pasaol 6, Santillan 3, De Chavez 2, Dehesa 0.
Riga 22 – Krumins 10, Miezis 8, Čavars 2, Strēlnieks 2.