Although many pundits from all over Europe had condemned Russia in this Eurobasket, the heart of the champion showed the way to the Russians, to a win over Latvia, 81-68.
Although the score suggests an easy win for Russia, it was anything but easy. Russia started the game better with their young point guar Bykov playing one of his best international games and established a double digit lead, 23-13. Surprisingly enough Latvia did not take advantage of both Kambala and biedrins and instead insisted on shooting from the perimeter. When they finally decided to pass the ball to Kambala they managed to go to half time just 3 points behind, 39-36.
Latvia could not score for some minutes in the beginning of the second half and Russia re-established a double digit lead, 54-44. At that point Kemzura ordered his players to post more, especially with Kambala and Latvia cut the difference down to six, 58-52. But in the end ot was the experience of McCarty and Monya who took Russia by the hand and lead their team to a much desires win on their first game.
Russia 81-68 Latvia
Quotes from the game:
Kaspars Kambala (Latvia): "We had a chance to win the game but we were too nervous at the end. But honestly, sometimes we played terrible basketball. I hope tomorrow will be better. I am back in the national team and I am proud of that."
Kestutis Kemzura (Latvia head coach): "I want to congratulate Coach Blatt. They played really good. The first game always is very import. We didn't play as good as we can, especially at the end. McCarty was too strong for us. Sometimes we were disorganized , some of my players can play much better In offensive and defensive. We have potential, we can fight, we can win and we will prove that during the next games."
David Blatt (Russia head coach): "Sometimes we did not play our basketball. It was a chance to prove that our new and young team has potential and talent. We lost few our main players and it's not easy to play in such situation. But young players proved their worth, I am proud of them."
Fedor Dimitriev (Russia): "It was a hard game for us. We are happy that we won. We will try to win next games and win the title."