Hot-shooting Brazil crushes Latvia to book Olympic return

Delfin Dioquino

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Hot-shooting Brazil crushes Latvia to book Olympic return

OLYMPIC-BOUND. Brazil celebrates after winning the 2024 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Riga, Latvia.


A scorching first quarter proves to be the difference as Brazil earns its Paris Games berth after blasting host Latvia in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament

MANILA, Philippines – Brazil rode on a blistering start on the way to its Olympic basketball return.

A scorching first quarter proved to be the difference as Brazil earned its Paris Games berth after crushing host Latvia, 94-69, to rule the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Riga on Sunday, July 7 (Monday, July 8, Manila time).

Ranked 12th in the world, Brazil went an astounding 8-of-8 from beyond the arc in the first period to open a 34-11 lead and cruised the rest of the way, finding its way back to the Olympics after missing the cut for the Tokyo Games.

Bruno Caboclo finished with 21 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks, while Leo Meindl churned out 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals as they figured prominently in that sensational start.

Meindl hit three of the Brazilians’ first seven treys before Caboclo – named the tournament MVP – beat the first-quarter buzzer from beyond the half-court line, leaving the partisan crowd at the Arena Riga in shock.

Georginho de Paula chimed in 14 points, including three triples, as Brazil shot 13-of-24 from three-point distance overall for an efficient 54% clip.

One of the heroes in their 71-60 semifinal win over Gilas Pilipinas, Marcelo Huertas made his presence felt anew with 12 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds, while Gui Santos netted 12 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.

Latvia showed signs of life when it inched within 16 points going into the break, 33-49, only to be outscored 23-13 in the third period as Brazil blew the game wide open.

Rihards Lomazs posted 15 points and 4 rebounds in the loss that prevented Latvia from ending an 88-year Olympic absence since it last participated in the 1936 Berlin Games.

It was a disappointing result for Latvia, especially as it ranked the highest among the six teams in this OQT as the world No. 6 and after it finished fifth in the previous FIBA World Cup.

Arturs Zagars and Rolands Smits added 14 points apiece in the defeat.

The Scores

Brazil 94 – Caboclo 21, Meindl 20, De Paula 14, Huertas 12, Santos 12, Benite 9, Santos 3, Dias 3, Felicio 0, Louzada 0, Cardoso 0. 

Latvia 69 – Lomazs 15, Zagars 14, Smits 14, Strautins 8, Zoriks 6, Cavars 4, Timma 3, Dav. Bertans 3, Mejeris 2, Kurucs 0, Dai. Bertans 0. 

Quarters: 34-11, 49-33, 72-46, 94-69.


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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.