Latvia will improve from players adapting to increased roles

Ahead of the upcoming international window in February, Latvia’s Zanis Peiners insists that players need to learn from their increased roles in order to improve.

The 6ft 8in swingman averaged 21.5 points, 5.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds in 34 minutes per game in Latvia’s first two games – an 85-73 loss at Turkey and an 82-73 win at home against Sweden in Group B.

Those were all a drastic increase from the small forward’s numbers at FIBA EuroBasket 2017, where he collected 5.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 13 minutes a game.

“In the first two games, coach (Arnis Vecvagars) gave me good playing time, a big role on offence and trusted me a lot. If the situation is the same next time, I will try to do my best to get those two wins,” said Peiners, referring to Latvia’s next two qualifiers – both home games against Ukraine on February 23 and Turkey on February 26.

Peiners and the rest of that group were not exactly accustomed to carrying such a load for the national team. But the Lietkabelis forward says they will be better in the February window thanks to what they gained last time out.

“The biggest thing we took from the first window was the experience because none of us ever played such big roles in the national team and of course we were a little bit stressed,” said Peiners. “I think we will be better in this upcoming round of games.”

FIBA contributed to this story.