Arnis Vecvagars named new Latvia coach for World Cup qualifiers

Latvia have named Arnis Vecvagars as their new head coach ahead of the FIBA World Cup 2019 qualifiers, which start in November.

The 43-year-old was an assistant to coach Ainars Bagatskis at the recently held Eurobasket, where Latvia reached the quarter-finals before falling in a thriller to eventual champions Slovenia.

Vecvagars says he will not veer from the approach of Bagatskis, who held the Latvia reins at the EuroBasket tournaments held in 2011, 2013, 2015, at the 2016 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade and this summer.

“It’s a great honor to succeed Ainars Bagatskis, under whose leadership the country achieved its best result since independence with a 5th place at the EuroBasket,” Vecvagars said.

“The team must maintain a positive atmosphere, provide good conditions for professional work and strive to maximize the skill of the best players. The style of the Latvian team’s game was highly appreciated by supporters and specialists, and there will be no revolution in this regard.”

Latvia won the first-ever Eurobasket back in 1935 and finished second at the event four years later. The country’s players were then members of Soviet Union teams before Latvia starting playing again as an independent country in 1992.

The Latvians though will have their work cut out for them next month, they will play Sweden, Turkey and Ukraine in a tough World Cup qualifying pool.