Unprecedented Triumph: How Latvia Stunned France in Their First World Cup Appearance

Latvia vs France: The Upset of the Year.

A momentous occasion unfolded in Jakarta, Indonesia as Latvia’s basketball team marked its inaugural World Cup presence by overcoming France, a seasoned and decorated team. In this article, we dive deep into what made this victory not just remarkable, but also historic.

The Awe-Inspiring Atmosphere

An estimated crowd of 2,000 to 2,500 fans journeyed all the way from Latvia to Indonesia, transforming the Jakarta arena into what felt like a home court for Latvia.

“It felt we’re playing in Latvia. The gym is full of Latvian people. It’s amazing that they came so far away to cheer us,” – Rolands Smits

The Fans’ Impact

According to Rolands Smits, the atmosphere was so electric it seemed as if they were playing in Latvia. The Latvian crowd made their presence felt in more ways than one, providing the team with the motivation and support to push boundaries and turn the impossible into reality.

A Historic Victory

Not only was this Latvia’s first World Cup appearance, but their win also sent shockwaves through the basketball world by causing an early exit for France, a gold medal contender. The significance of this win is unparalleled, particularly when considered against the backdrop of Latvia’s basketball history.

Echoes in History

This triumph is regarded as one of Latvia’s most monumental since their EuroBasket win in 1935. It has set the stage for new possibilities and dreams as the team advances to the next phase of the World Cup.

Key Players Speak

In the aftermath of Latvia’s momentous victory over France, two pivotal figures in the team—Rolands Smits and Rodions Kurucs—opened up about what it took to achieve this historic feat.

Rolands Smits

Smits had the game of his life, putting up a personal best for the national team with a super-efficient 20 points on 8-10 shooting. He acknowledged the collective effort of the team, indicating that the win was a result of everyone’s maximum effort.

“In general, everyone played good. Every player who entered the floor gave the maximum and really that’s why we won the game,” – Rolands Smits

Smits was particularly enthused about the team’s diversified capabilities.

Team Diversity

  • Physicality
  • Speed
  • Ability to run the floor

These were the elements that Smits believes set Latvia apart in their game against France.

Team Qualities

  • Fighting Spirit
  • Team-First Mentality
  • Resilience

Kurucs stressed how each player fought for every ball, contributing to the team’s triumph.

Game-Changing Stats

Points off Turnovers2617
Second Chance Points2213

Latvia outperformed France in multiple key areas, particularly in capitalizing on turnovers and securing second-chance opportunities. It was this statistical edge that, according to Rodions Kurucs, made the difference.

Carlik Jones of South Sudan against China in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

The Underdogs Making History: South Sudan’s Parallel Story

While Latvia’s victory over France captured headlines, it wasn’t the only astonishing upset that rocked the basketball world. South Sudan, a newcomer to the FIBA World Cup stage, also shattered expectations by securing their first-ever win in the tournament, defeating China 89-69. This achievement was not just a personal milestone for the nation but also a moment that puts the spotlight on the underdogs of international basketball.

Key Moments and Players

Carlik Jones emerged as a powerhouse for the South Sudanese team, contributing 21 points and 6 assists. He wasn’t alone in the limelight; four other players scored in double-digits, including a noteworthy 14 points by Nuni Omot. In an even more exciting development, Khaman Maluach joined the historical ranks by becoming only the second player under 17 years of age to score in a FIBA World Cup game in the last 35 years.

Strategy That Paid Off

Head Coach Royal Ivey’s tactics played an indispensable role in South Sudan’s historic win. His emphasis on resilience, persistence, and focus enabled his players to execute the game plan effectively. While the stats and numbers speak for themselves, it was the players’ emotional intensity and fighting spirit that put them ahead.

Learning Points for Other Teams

China, a team with considerable experience and resources, fell short in crucial aspects like three-point shooting and defensive plays under the basket. Their loss serves as a lesson for teams that may underestimate the newcomers. Athleticism, height, and the intimidation factor can tip the scales in favor of the underdog.

Significance for the Basketball World

South Sudan’s win over China resonates with the same sense of accomplishment and historical importance as Latvia’s triumph over France. Both victories illustrate that in the world of sports, passion, teamwork, and a well-executed game plan can defy odds, making these tournaments anyone’s game.

In light of these recent events, it’s clear that the traditional basketball powerhouses need to watch their backs. The underdogs are not just participating; they’re competing, and as Latvia and South Sudan have shown, they’re winning too.

General Sport Observer Marc Defaou
reviewed by: Marc Defaou (Sport Expert)

Share this article

More News
More links
Follow us