Russia Overpower Latvia To Qualify For EuroBasket 2007 Final

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Russia 67 Latvia 36

Latvia started the match aggressively and after a 5:0 run led (10:4). Natalia Vodopyanova ended the sequence with one of her trademark jump-shots. Still Latvia continued to shoot well from the floor. And then after a baseline trey from Anete Jekabsone-Zogota (15-7) Russia became more physical in their approach and clawed back all but one of their deficit by the end of the first period (17-16). Gunta Basko had to leave the field for some treatment after colliding with Svetlana Abrosimova and her absence was felt during the Russian late run.

Basko, back at the start of the second period, strengthened the Latvian's defence as they hustled the ball away from the tall Russian forwards time and time again. Finally, Maria Stepanova managed to find room to score a basket for her side. The Russian lead did not last long because Jekabsone-Zogota hit back on the back of a fast break and then Basko came up big in the inside to lay up for them to go back in front (21-18).

Natalia Vodopyanova hit a jump-shot just inside the arc to give her side the lead (22-21) and not to loose it again. From this point onwards Latvia found it more and more difficult to crack the Russian zone and conceded 5 more points by the interval as Russia finished the first half on a 9:0 run (27-21).

In the third period solid defence by both sides made scoring difficult but Russia found a solution in Olga Arteshina who hit two treys and an inside jumper (37-26). Russia increased their advantage and opened the first significant lead in the game. Without Jekabsone-Zogota scoring Latvia's offence went lame. In contrast the Russian's well balanced offensive options allowed them to finish the third quarter with a 10:3 run to take a massive 18-point-advantage (47-29) into the final period.

Latvia have a team concept which is admirable but today with both Basko and Jekabsone-Zogota carrying knocks (picked up during the first half of this match) the team did not have the fire power or craft to deal with the focused Russian players in the last period. The final result is a little hard on Latvia but you have to admire the discipline and concentration of the whole Russian team as they finished with a flourish to win (67-36).

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