Italy began the game strongly, capitalizing on Latvia’s hectic schedule, but the tide turned when Andrejs Grazulis assumed a leading role for the Three Stars, securing an 87-82 victory.
Italy was without Simone Fontecchio, while Latvia’s Davis Bertans and Arturs Zagars started on the bench and saw limited playing time.
Consequently, Latvia has advanced to compete for fifth place in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, while Italy will battle for seventh.
The first half witnessed a closely contested matchup between the two teams. However, in the second half, Coach Luca Banchi’s strategic move to include Arturs Zagars in the starting lineup signaled Latvia’s intent to execute one of their trademark surges.
This tactic paid dividends as Zagars delivered consecutive three-pointers, catapulting Latvia to a double-digit lead. Despite Italy’s attempts at a comeback, Andrejs Grazulis’ finesse near the basket maintained Latvia’s advantage.
The game witnessed a remarkable 27-point turnaround. Italy initially held a 13-point lead, only to watch Latvia seize control and establish a 14-point advantage early in the third quarter.
As the game evolved into a three-point shooting contest, Italy managed to narrow the deficit to a mere two points with less than a minute remaining.
In a critical moment, Andrejs Grazulis stepped up, sinking the game-winning three-pointer from the left corner with just 24 seconds left on the clock.
Andrejs Grazulis has emerged as one of the standout performers in the World Cup, delivering his most impressive scoring performance of the tournament with 28 points on an outstanding 12-of-13 shooting, surpassing his previous high of 24 points against Brazil.
“A good win despite a very short time we had to recover energy after last night’s game with Germany,” said Luca Banchi, Latvia’s head coach. “It was a matter of going deeper into the values of this squad, a group of guys who proved that despite a very sloppy approach to the game, they really care.
“They came back, they found the vibes, the rhythm, playing with our usual flow. It was very tight, but this was a good win. We have a possibility to play for the fifth place, that will be very exciting.”
Watch the game highlights between Italy and Latvia in the Class. Games 5-8 at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023: