|15 July 2011|
U20 European Championship
Two points made a huge difference in favor of Croatia following a 60-58 victory over Latvia in Group B of the U20 European Championship in Bilbao, Spain.
This win bestowed Croatia their first win and meant they tie their record with Latvia at 1-1.
For Latvia it was the second game in a row decided by two points, in an almost identical score (59-57 yesterday) though this time the opposite bench had the smiling faces.
Ivan Buva topped Croatia's scorers list with 13 points, followed by Ivan Mikulic with 9 and 3 assists.
Janis Antrops hit 5 three pointers in 50% to reach a team high of 19, Armands Osins added 11 and Martins Meiers finished with 10 points and 11 boards.
After the uncomfortable performance yesterday against France, Croatia bounced back and already in the first half scored more than the total they reached in the entire game yesterday.
Yet the final score and other figures as 40% inside the arc and 30.8% beyond it, still hint something isn't working yet in the Croatian offensive machine.
The first 8 minutes were close and Latvia tied the game at 11-11, but the Croats responded with a 9-0 run the glitched into the second quarter,
Antrops hit three shots from long range in a row, and cut the gap to 29-25, but Mikulic with a lay up and assist gave Croatia the double-digit lead at the break, 35-25.
Latvia continued to chase after their opponent yet didn't make the final push to take the lead in their hands.
Meiers and Antrops carried their team back to just 3 points behind, 52-49, inside the last 7 minutes before both teams entered a 3 minutes scoring drought.
Ivan Batur scored from the charity stripe to make it a 7 point game inside the last minute, and the game seemed to be decided but Antrops with his 5th three pointer and later a steal allowed Latvia to set the score on 59-58 with 14 seconds to go.
Luka Babic was sent to the line but made just the first free throw and Osins missed the chance to send the game to overtime with the final buzzer.
Tomorrow Croatia will take on winless Sweden while Latvia will try to climb back on the winning track against unbeaten France.