FIBA World Cup

Latvia lives – and dies – with Bertans’ missed game-winner: ‘We trust him’

Delfin Dioquino

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Latvia lives – and dies – with Bertans’ missed game-winner: ‘We trust him’

BROKEN. Latvia's Davis Bertans is consoled by his teammates at the end of their quarterfinal loss to Germany in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.


Davis Bertans botches a chance to extend the Latvians' fairytale run in the FIBA World Cup as his potential game-winner fails to find the mark against Germany in the quarterfinals

MANILA, Philippines – Latvia saw its fairytale run in the FIBA World Cup end in arguably the most heartbreaking fashion: a missed game-winner from star Davis Bertans.

Bertans botched a chance to send Latvia to the semifinals as his desperate three-pointer failed to find the mark, allowing Germany to escape with an 81-79 win on Wednesday, September 6.

It was a contentious decision from Bertans, who let it fly over the outstretched arms of 6-foot-8 Isaac Bonga with still four seconds to spare, but his teammates live – and die – with his shot.

“We trust him. He was hitting the big shots all game. I was just going for the rebound. I was hoping to get the rebound and tip it in. We were not lucky,” said Rodions Kurucs of Bertans.

A seven-year NBA veteran who is currently signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Bertans turned in his finest scoring performance of the World Cup, churning out 20 points on a sizzling 6-of-13 clip from beyond the arc.

The Latvian Laser, though, cooled down and scored just a single point in the fourth quarter, missing all of his three treys in the period.

“He is frustrated, of course. He was hitting the big shots the whole game and he missed this one. That is basketball, sometimes you miss, sometimes you make,” said Kurucs.

Still, Latvia punched above its weight, with few expecting one of the four debutants in this World Cup to reach the final phase, especially without arguably its best player in Kristaps Porzingis, who is out with a foot issue.

The Latvians eliminated Tokyo Olympic silver medalist France in the group stage and contributed to the ouster of defending World Cup champion Spain by stunning the world No. 1 nation in the second round.

For a team that is ranked the lowest among the eight squads that advanced to the final phase at world No. 29, chemistry and fighting spirit were the building blocks to a campaign that exceeded most expectations, Kurucs said.

“We support each other and we play as one team.” –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.