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Tiebreaker Times

2023 FIBA World Cup

FIBA: Latvia pulls off massive upset over world champ Spain

In a surprising turn of events, Latvia came alive when it was needed most, handing Spain their first loss in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 with a score of 74-69 on Friday evening at the Indonesia Arena in Jakarta.

With this victory, Latvijas Basketbola Izlase boosted their quarterfinals bid, improving to a 3-1 record, while La Roja fell to an identical 3-1 slate.

Latvia’s offense was evenly distributed among five double-digit scorers, led by Oklahoma City Thunder forward Davis Bertans, who contributed 16 points and three rebounds. Rodions Kurucs scored 13 points, and Andrejs Grazulis, Rolands Smits, and Kristers Zoriks each chipped in with 11 points.

A long-range shot by Dario Brizuela allowed Spain to narrow a five-point deficit to two with 28 seconds remaining, making it 69-71. However, three successful free throws by Zoriks and Kurucs secured Latvia’s third victory in the global showcase.

Latvijas Basketbola Izlase dominated La Roja in the final period, outscoring them 27-11, securing their second-ever win in FIBA and Eurobasket play against the perennial contenders.

Latvia started the fourth quarter with an 18-5 run over Spain, fueled by timely baskets from Zoriks, as his floater gave Latvia their first lead since the 6:36 mark of the third quarter, making it 65-63.

Before Latvijas Basketbola Izlase’s comeback, La Roja had a 14-0 run against the Northeastern European squad, entering the final period with an 11-point advantage, 47-58.

“Great win. Special night. Once again, some good memories to cherish, but it’s time to reset and focus on the next game. About the 40 minutes, incredible effort, and I’m really proud of the way we stayed in the game despite a little moment where we wavered as a team,” said Latvia head coach Luca Banchi.

#ReadMore  Clinical Italy shuts door on Gilas Pilipinas' FIBA World Cup hopes

Eurobasket MVP Willy Hernangomez led Spain in the defeat with 14 points, four rebounds, and an assist and block, while Atlanta Hawks center Usman Garuba and Dario Brizuela contributed 11 points each. Memphis Grizzlies forward Santi Aldama scored only two points in just seven minutes and 35 seconds of action.

Latvijas Basketbola Izlase aims to conclude their second stage campaign on a high note when they face Raul Neto-led Brazil on Sunday, while Spain looks to rebound from this shocking loss against an undefeated Canadian squad. (Ernest Martin Tuazon)

The Scores

Latvia (74) – Dav Bertans 16, R. Kurucs 13, Grazulis 11, Smits 11, Zoriks 11, Zagars 7, Skele 2, Strautins 2, A. Kurucs 1, Cavars 0

Spain (69) – W. Hernangomez 14, Garuba 11, Brizuela 11, J. Hernangomez 9, Abrines 5, Fernandez 5, Llull 5, Claver 4, Diaz 3, Aldama 2, Nunez 0

Quarterscores: 17-16, 32-29, 47-58, 74-69

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