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MANILA, Philippines – The penultimate day of the 2023 FIBA World Cup is now upon Manila, as the last rungs of the final rankings are about to be set in stone with two of the tournament’s last three classification games.
As the Mall of Asia Arena recovers from a blistering semifinals slate that saw Germany and Serbia arrange an all-Europe final, four more elite squads from the continent will clash one last time in search of national pride.
Latvia vs Lithuania – Battle for 5th
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.
Two World Cup giant-killers grace the classification main event as Lithuania and Latvia slug it out for fifth place at 8:30 pm.
Lithuania, the first team to beat all-NBA USA, will draw strength one last time from star center Jonas Valanciunas and his fellow NBA-caliber teammates Ignas Brazdeikis and Mindaugas Kuzminskas to cap off a satisfactory campaign.
Latvia, which downed title contenders France and Spain on the way to the quarterfinals, will bank on a team-wide sharpshooting effort spearheaded by the “Latvian Laser” Davis Bertans.
Italy vs Slovenia – Battle for 7th
Luka Doncic refused to end his Manila trip without a win and steered Slovenia to an 89-85 win over Italy for seventh place in the FIBA World Cup before a mammoth crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Luka Mania” will run wild one last time in Manila as Luka Doncic and Slovenia seek a breakthrough win on Philippine soil against fellow powerhouse Italy at 4:45 pm for seventh place.
Doncic, who all but confirmed that he will not skimp on playing time in no-bearing games, will again by joined by a capable supporting cast led by top World Cup bench scorer Klemen Prepelic, bruiser Mike Tobey, and former NBA player Zoran Dragic.
NBA player Simone Fontecchio, if he chooses to suit up after not playing the last classification game, will again lead Italy’s last stand, while longtime Azzurri legend Luigi Datome will aim to go out guns blazing in his final national team game.