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MANILA, Philippines – Until the end, Latvia lived up to its reputation as a giant slayer.
Latvia ripped world No. 8 Lithuania to shreds to wrap up its maiden FIBA World Cup stint at fifth place after a wire-to-wire 98-63 win at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday, September 9.
Arturs Kurucs played his finest game of the tournament for Latvia and posted 20 points on a sizzling 6-of-9 clip from three-point distance as the World Cup debutants defeated another top 10 squad to end their campaign.
Bucking a woeful shooting performance that saw him miss all of his seven field goals, Arturs Zagars made his presence felt by seting a FIBA World Cup record as the Latvian guard dished out 17 assists with 0 turnovers.
In their phenomenal debut, the Latvians eliminated world No. 5 France in the group stage, stunned No. 1 Spain in the second round, and survived No. 10 Italy to reach the playoff for fifth.
Kurucs erupted for 11 points in the opening quarter to help mount a 28-20 lead before his teammates picked up where he left off the rest of the way as Latvia led by 30 points, 77-47, heading into the final frame.
Rolands Smits supplied 17 points and 6 rebounds, while Andrejs Grazulis added 12 points and 2 blocks in the 35-point blowout.
Rokas Jokubaitis fired 16 points in the loss, while NBA player Jonas Valanciunas put up 15 points and 8 rebounds for the Lithuanians.
At sixth place, Lithuania improved on its ninth-place finish in the previous World Cup. – Rappler.com