Latvia Secures Dominant Victory Over Lithuania for Fifth Place
In a celebration dubbed “Arturs Day” in Manila, Latvia showcased a remarkable performance as Arturs Kurucs led the scoring charge while Arturs Zagars established a new record for assists, resulting in an emphatic victory over Lithuania in the fifth-place game. The final score stood at 98-63, granting Latvia bragging rights for at least another year as they clinched fifth place, leaving their neighbors in sixth.
The turning point of the game was apparent from the tip-off, with Lithuania showing a lack of energy. Notably, Vaidas Kariniauskas and Eimantas Bendzius did not even enter the game, further shortening their already limited rotation.
Latvia set the tone by amassing 28 points in the first quarter and then dominated the third quarter with a 28-9 score, making it a stress-free affair for the majority of the 9,440 fans present at the Mall of Asia Arena. The Lithuanian fans, in a smaller group, had little to cheer about as the game spiraled to a deficit of -40 from their perspective.
The TCL Player of the Game was awarded to Arturs Kurucs, who arguably delivered his finest performance of the World Cup. He recorded 20 points, including six three-pointers, along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists, earning an Efficiency Rating (EFF) of 23 and rightfully claiming the TCL Player of the Game title.
Latvia’s memorable World Cup debut was marked not only by their fans but also by their standout point guard, Arturs Zagars. As a free agent, he made a significant impact, culminating in a new World Cup record. Zagars orchestrated an astounding 17 assists in just 26 minutes of play, a feat unmatched by any player since assists were officially recorded in 1994. Had the game been closer, he could have easily reached 20 assists, considering he already had 10 by halftime. Furthermore, Zagars contributed 4 points and 6 rebounds without committing a single turnover.
When it comes to shooting percentages, Latvia’s prowess was evident, boasting field goals at 51 percent, three-pointers at 50 percent, and free throws at 67 percent. In contrast, Lithuania struggled, with shooting splits of 35 percent from the field, 19 percent from beyond the arc, and 50 percent from the free-throw line.
In the grand scheme of things, Latvia’s offensive performance was a true spectacle, and coach Luca Banchi can take immense pride in their achievement. In this particular game, it was Arturs Kurucs who shone with his 20-point tally, fueled by six successful three-pointers, marking a career-high in the World Cup, a milestone he will undoubtedly chase in the years to come.
Latvia joined Germany as the only other team with six different players achieving 20 or more points in a game during this FIBA Basketball World Cup event. Dairis Bertans, Davis Bertans, Rolands Smits, Arturs Zagars, and Andrejs Grazulis had previously achieved this impressive feat.
Although Lithuania ran out of steam in the final game of the World Cup, they can take pride in rejoining the ranks of the top eight teams in the world. Rokas Jokubaitis led their scoring efforts with 16 points in this contes