Latvia erases big deficit to stun Spain in Fiba World Cup | Inquirer Sports

Latvia erases big deficit to stun Spain in Fiba World Cup

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 09:47 PM September 01, 2023

Latvia Fiba World Cup

Latvia celebrates after beating defending champion Spain in the Fiba World Cup second round. -FIBA PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines-Latvia pulled off the unthinkable in the 2023 FIBA World Cup on Friday night, toppling defending champion Spain with a gigantic upset, 74-69, at the Indonesia Arena in Jakarta.

Appearing on the global stage for the first time, the Latvians wiped out a double-digit deficit in the fourth period and displayed the same tenacity in beating world-class France in the opening round that left the 2019 world champions thunderstruck.


Rodions Kurucs guaranteed the win with two free throws that pushed Latvia to a five-point cushion in the final 8.6 seconds on the way to a first win in the round of 16, their third overall in four games to tie Spain in Group L.


Kristers Zoriks made the biggest plays in reversing the Spaniards, pumping all of his 11 points in the last five minutes, including two consecutive threes that tied everything at 61.

Davis Bertans showed the way with 16 points and Kurucs hit 13 and pulled down eight boards for the Latvians, who will face Brazil on Sunday with a victory sending them straight to the quarterfinals.

Willy Hernangomez powered his way to 14 points while Usman Garuba and Dario Brizuela contributed 11 each in a losing effort for Spain ahead of its crucial clash with unbeaten Canada following Saturday’s break.

Kurucs eluded a stifling defense with a curl in the paint, giving Latvia its first taste of the lead before Bertans jacked it up to 37-32 with a corner three.

But Spain, notorious for wearing down their opponents with a smothering defense, buckled down to work with Hernangomez tying the count at 42 with a pair of freebies prior to a deep three by Brizuela that shattered the last deadlock.


The Latvians just couldn’t buy a basket and for the next four minutes allowed the Spaniards to build a double-digit advantage.

Garuba’s three-point play made it 52-42 and another incursion that fetched a foul for two free throws closed out the third with Spain ahead by 11.

But Latvia, which stunned France early in the group phase that sent the two-time bronze medalists to the classification round, just refused to call it a night.

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TAGS: Fiba World Cup, Latvia

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