Latvia national basketball team

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Latvia Latvija
Latvijas Basketbola Savienība logo.png
FIBA ranking T-37th Increase2
Joined FIBA 1932 (co-founders)
FIBA zone FIBA Europe
National federation Latvia Basketball Association
Coach Ainars Bagatskis
Olympic Games
Appearances 1 (1936)
Medals None
FIBA World Cup
Appearances None
Medals None
FIBA EuroBasket
Appearances 13
Medals Gold medal europe.svg Gold: 1935
Silver medal europe.svg Silver: 1939
Uniforms
Kit body thinsidesonwhite.png
Light jersey
Kit shorts.png
Team colours
Light
Kit body thinwhitesides.png
Dark jersey
Kit shorts.png
Team colours
Dark
First international
Latvia Latvia 20–16 Estonia Estonia
(29 April 1924)[1]
Biggest win
Latvia Latvia 108–7 Finland Finland
(Kaunas, Lithuania; 24 May 1939)[2]

The Latvian national basketball team (Latvian: Latvijas basketbola izlase) is the basketball side that represents Latvia in international competitions. It had a remarkable success during the inter-war period, being the smallest in population nation to win the EuroBasket.

History[edit]

Basketball beginning in Latvia[edit]

Latvians, like their Balts neighbors Lithuanians, also began playing basketball in 1920s. Though, they were much more advanced back then than their frequent rivals Lithuanians. On 13 December 1925 in Riga, Lithuanians played their first international game. Latvians easily swept them with result 41–20.[3] Later on, Latvians were crushing the future three-times European champions Lithuanians as well (41–29 or even 123–10).[4] In fact, Latvia had one of the world's strongest national basketball teams. The first Latvians teams consisted of students and pupils, who were trained by coaches of American YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association).[5]

On 26 November 1923, the Latvijas Basketbola Savienība was founded, earlier than most of the biggest countries basketball federations.[6]

In winter 1924 first men's basketball championship was held, while the women's championship was organized only in 1933.[7]

On 29 April 1924, Latvia played their first international game versus Estonia, winning it 20–16.[8]

Latvia also was one of the eight countries, whose representative Jazeps Sadeiko, signed the founding act of FIBA on 18 June 1932 in Geneva, together with Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Argentina.[9]

EuroBasket 1935[edit]

Main article: EuroBasket 1935
Latvia national basketball team members during EuroBasket 1935.

The Latvians won the first European basketball championship, the EuroBasket 1935 held by the International Basketball Federation's FIBA Europe continental federation. They defeated Hungary in the preliminary round, Switzerland in the semifinals, and Spain in the final to finish atop the ten-nation field.

Latvia held their opponents to 49 points over three games, the lowest points-against average in the tournament. Their scoring rate, 98 points over three games for 32.67 points per game, was second only to France.

Latvia is the smallest country in population to win the EuroBasket.

In 2012, Latvian film director Aigars Grauba published movie called Dream Team 1935 about this competition.

1936 Summer Olympic Games (Berlin 1936)[edit]

Latvian national basketball team participated in the first appearance of the basketball as an official Olympic medal event. Latvians were holding the European title and were considered as one of the strongest participants. Though, the Olympics did not go that well for Latvians. They began the tournament with a severe victory over the Uruguay national team 20–17. Although, then they were smashed 23–34 by Canada and after suffering another defeat to Polish 23–28, Latvians did not qualified into the knockout stage, unlike their neighbors Estonians.[10] This was the first and the only Latvia men's national basketball team appearance in the Olympic Games.

EuroBasket 1937[edit]

Main article: EuroBasket 1937

The reigning champions finished in a relatively disappointing sixth place in the second European championship, EuroBasket 1937, which they hosted. Their 32–25 loss to Poland in the preliminary round put them in a three-way tie for the lead of the four-team group; Latvia came out on the bottom of the tie-breaker against Poland and France. This result came about despite the Latvians being the highest-scoring team in the entire tournament and allowing fewer opponent points than any of the other teams in their group.

Being in the bottom half of the preliminary group meant that the team could finish no better than fifth. In the classification semifinal, Latvia faced Egypt, which had withdrawn after their first two preliminary matches. They advanced to the 5th/6th playoff, which they lost to Estonia 41–19.

EuroBasket 1939[edit]

Latvian squad in EuroBasket 1939
Main article: EuroBasket 1939

In 1939, despite losing twice, including a rematch of the 1937 final against Estonia and the game against eventual champions Lithuania, Latvia had five wins, which were enough to secure second place, since only Poland also had a 5–2 record. Latvia had won their game against Poland, thus they received the silver medal whilst Poland took the bronze. The unlucky tournament's game ending versus Lithuania caused some significant scandals. Latvia completely stopped sports relations with Lithuania.[11] Even the football tournament – 1939 Baltic Cup was cancelled.

One of the 1939's vice-champions, Alfrēds Krauklis, once said: "Frankly saying – these three Baltic states raised the European basketball. Now they say that its Spanish, and so what? Let them say... And I say – it's our merit!".[12]

Soviet and Nazi period (1940–1991)[edit]

Due to occupations, Latvians were unable to represent Latvia in FIBA organized tournaments or the Olympic Games. Instead, they were forced to play for the Soviet Union national basketball team.

Horrific times in Latvia began. In 1940 the massive people deportations started, implemented by the Soviets. Thousands of Latvians were forced to leave their homeland, thousands of them died due to the active military activities.

Though, despite all the cruel challenges, basketball was continued to be played and retained its popularity in Latvia. In 1941 Baltic states tournament was organized in Kaunas Sports Hall. Lithuania won that game with result 38–33.[13]

In 1952 Summer Olympics, Maigonis Valdmanis been the first Latvian representative in the Soviet squad, which won the Olympic silver medals that year. A few years later two other Latvian basketball stars joined the team: Jānis Krūmiņš and Valdis Muižnieks. Later on, the trio won two EuroBasket titles and two times became Olympic vice-champions together.

In the 1950s, ASK Riga, coached by the Soviet legend Aleksandr Gomelsky, became the major force of the Soviet Union and even Europe by winning three consecutive European Cup for Men's Champions Clubs titles from 1958 to 1960. The club's roster had the multiple European champions: Jānis Krūmiņš, Maigonis Valdmanis and Valdis Muižnieks.[14] Furthermore, in 1960 the TTT Riga won European Cup for Women's Champion Clubs, undoubtedly turning Riga into the capital of basketball with the two major European basketball titles held by the single city's clubs at the same time. And it only was the first of the stunning 18 European titles.

In later years another Latvian basketball stars appeared, such as: Valdis Valters and Igors Miglinieks, both of them being crowned as the Olympic champions. Valdis Valters is considered to be one of the Europe's greatest basketball player of the 1980s. In addition to his Olympic champion title, he also won the world championship in 1982 and became the European champion twice, being named as the MVP of the EuroBasket 1981.

After the restoration of independence (from 1991)[edit]

On 4 May 1990 Latvia declared the country's independence from the Soviet Union. Consequently, in September 1991 its basketball federation was re-affiliated with FIBA.[15] Though, despite having some remarkable players like Valdis Valters, Igors Miglinieks, Ainars Bagatskis, Kaspars Kambala, Andris Biedriņš, Latvia failed to recover its inter-war glory yet. Their best result after restoring the country's independence is the 8th place achieved in EuroBasket 2001. Although, basketball is slowly regaining its power in Latvia with the help of the medals-winning youth squads. In EuroBasket 2013 Latvians were only a few steps away from qualifying into the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. Kristaps Porziņģis currently is the most notable young Latvian player and is considered as one of the national team's major powers in the future. In the 2015 NBA draft, the New York Knicks selected him with the 4th pick.

Competitive record[edit]

Team[edit]

Current roster[edit]

Roster for the Eurobasket 2015.

Latvia men's national basketball team roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Age – Date of birth Ht. Club Ctr.
F 5 Mejeris, Mareks 24 – (1991-09-02)2 September 1991 2.07 m (6 ft 9 in) VEF Rīga Latvia
PF 6 Freimanis, Rolands 27 – (1988-01-21)21 January 1988 2.10 m (6 ft 11 in) Kalev/Cramo Estonia
SG 7 Blūms, Jānis 33 – (1982-04-20)20 April 1982 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in) S.S. Felice Scandone Italy
SG 9 Bertāns, Dairis 25 – (1989-09-09)9 September 1989 1.92 m (6 ft 4 in) Bilbao Basket Spain
SF 10 Timma, Jānis 23 – (1992-07-02)2 July 1992 2.01 m (6 ft 7 in) VEF Rīga Latvia
G 12 Janičenoks, Kristaps 32 – (1983-03-14)14 March 1983 1.96 m (6 ft 5 in) Ventspils Latvia
PG 13 Strēlnieks, Jānis 26 – (1989-09-01)1 September 1989 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in) Brose Baskets Germany
PF 14 Bērziņš, Kaspars 30 – (1985-08-25)25 August 1985 2.11 m (6 ft 11 in) Krasnye Krylia Russia
PG 19 Vecvagars, Kaspars 22 – (1993-08-03)3 August 1993 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in) Žalgiris Lithuania
G/F 23 Kārlis, Haralds 24 – (1991-04-29)29 April 1991 1.95 m (6 ft 5 in) Seton Hall Pirates United States
PG 31 Peiners, Žanis 25 – (1990-08-02)2 August 1990 2.04 m (6 ft 8 in) Ventspils Latvia
F/C 33 Meiers, Mārtiņš 24 – (1991-03-30)30 March 1991 2.08 m (6 ft 10 in) Ventspils Latvia
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

Legend
  • Club – describes last
    club before the tournament
  • Age – describes age
    on 5 September 2015

Depth chart[edit]

Pos. Starter Bench Bench Reserve Inactive
C Kristaps Porziņģis Kaspars Bērziņš Andris Biedriņš
PF Dāvis Bertāns Rolands Freimanis Ronalds Zaķis
SF Jānis Timma Kristaps Janičenoks
SG Dairis Bertāns Jānis Blūms Haralds Kārlis
PG Jānis Strēlnieks Kaspars Vecvagars

Notable players[edit]

Past rosters[edit]

1935 EuroBasket: finished 1st among 10 teams

Rūdolfs Jurciņš, Herberts Gulbins, Džems Raudziņš, Visvaldis Melderis, Mārtiņš Grundmanis, Eduards Andersons, Aleksejs Anufrijevs, Jānis Lidmanis, Hudins (Coach: Valdemārs Baumanis)

1936 Olympic Games: finished 18th among 21 teams

Rūdolfs Jurciņš, Visvaldis Melderis, Mārtiņš Grundmanis, Džems Raudziņš, Eduards Andersons, Maksis Kazaks, V.Helmuts (Coach: Valdemars Baumanis)

1937 EuroBasket: finished 6th among 8 teams

Rūdolfs Jurciņš, Martins Grundmanis, Eduards Andersons, Visvaldis Melderis, Dzems Raudzins, Aleksejs Anufrijevs, Aleksandrs Martinsons, Voldemars Smits, Janis Jansons, Andrejs Krisons (Coach: Adolfs Grasis)

1939 EuroBasket: finished 2nd among 8 teams

Visvaldis Melderis, Maksis Kazaks, Voldemars Smits, Karlis Arents, Juris Solovjovs, Karlis Satins, Aleksandrs Vanags, Alfrēds Krauklis, Teodors Grinbergs, Janis Graudins (Coach: Valdemars Baumanis)

1993 EuroBasket: finished 9th among 16 teams

Ainars Bagatskis, Raimonds Miglinieks, Kārlis Muižnieks, Andrejs Bondarenko, Aigars Zeidaks, Edmunds Valeiko, Igors Meļņiks, Edgars Šneps, Janis Āzacis, Ivars Zankovskis, Dzintars Jaunzems, Ivars Liepa (Coach: Armands Krauliņš)

1997 EuroBasket: finished 16th among 16 teams

Roberts Štelmahers, Ainars Bagatskis, Uvis Helmanis, Raimonds Miglinieks, Edmunds Valeiko, Kārlis Muižnieks, Andrejs Bondarenko, Igors Meļņiks, Edgars Šneps, Ivars Liepa, Ralfs Jansons, Jānis Āzacis (Coach: Igors Miglinieks)

2001 EuroBasket: finished 8th among 16 teams

Kaspars Kambala, Raimonds Miglinieks, Uvis Helmanis, Roberts Štelmahers, Ainars Bagatskis, Kristaps Valters, Edmunds Valeiko, Kaspars Cipruss, Raitis Grafs, Arnis Vecvagars, Aigars Vītols, Māris Ļaksa (Coach: Armands Krauliņš)

2003 EuroBasket: finished 13th among 16 teams

Kaspars Kambala, Roberts Štelmahers, Ainars Bagatskis, Uvis Helmanis, Armands Šķēle, Kristaps Valters, Trojs Ostlers, Aigars Vītols, Edgars Šneps, Raitis Grafs, Arnis Vecvagars, Māris Ļaksa (Coach: Armands Krauliņš)

2005 EuroBasket: finished 14th among 16 teams

Roberts Štelmahers, Uvis Helmanis, Sandis Valters, Kristaps Valters, Armands Šķēle, Jānis Blūms, Mārtiņš Skirmants, Raitis Grafs, Kaspars Cipruss, Aigars Vītols, Kristaps Janičenoks, Ivars Timermanis (Coach: Kārlis Muižnieks)

2007 EuroBasket: finished 13th among 16 teams

Andris Biedriņš, Armands Šķēle, Uvis Helmanis, Jānis Blūms, Sandis Valters, Aigars Vītols, Kaspars Cipruss, Kristaps Janičenoks, Raitis Grafs, Pāvels Veselovs, Raimonds Vaikulis, Gatis Jahovičs (Coach: Kārlis Muižnieks)

2009 EuroBasket: finished 13th among 16 teams

Andris Biedriņš, Armands Šķēle, Uvis Helmanis, Jānis Blūms, Kristaps Valters, Aigars Vītols, Gatis Jahovičs, Kristaps Janičenoks, Kaspars Kambala, Artūrs Štālbergs, Rolands Freimanis, Ernests Kalve (Coach: Kęstutis Kemzūra)

2011 EuroBasket: finished 21st among 24 teams

Dairis Bertāns, Mareks Jurevičus, Edgars Jeromanovs, Jānis Blūms, Rihards Kuksiks, Mareks Mejeris, Dāvis Bertāns, Jānis Strēlnieks, Artūrs Bērziņš, Andrejs Šeļakovs, Rolands Freimanis, Mārtiņš Meiers (Coach: Ainars Bagatskis)

2013 EuroBasket: finished 11th among 24 teams

Jānis Strēlnieks, Dairis Bertāns, Rihards Kuksiks, Kaspars Bērziņš, Mareks Mejeris, Armands Šķēle, Jānis Blūms, Kristaps Janičenoks, Rolands Freimanis, Andrejs Šeļakovs, Mārtiņš Meiers, Jānis Bērziņš (Coach: Ainars Bagatskis)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Federation Focus: Latvia (English)
  2. ^ Latvia 108-7 Finland (Game boxscore) (English)
  3. ^ Stanislovas Stonkus "Krepšinio kelias į Lietuvą" (page: 17)
  4. ^ 1937-ieji ir 1939-ieji – pirmieji Lietuvos krepšinio šlovės metai (Lithuanian)
  5. ^ Federation Focus: Latvia (English)
  6. ^ Federation Focus: Latvia (English)
  7. ^ Federation Focus: Latvia (English)
  8. ^ Federation Focus: Latvia (English)
  9. ^ Federation Focus: Latvia (English)
  10. ^ 1936 Latvia Men's Olympic Basketball (English)
  11. ^ Pranas Lubinas - taurusis tarpukario krepšinio milžinas (Lithuanian)
  12. ^ Telecast "Mūsų krepšinis" (Season: 1; Episode: 1; Quotation begins at 10:20)
  13. ^ "Krepšinis". Lietuvos sporto enciklopedija. Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  14. ^ Federation Focus: Latvia (English)
  15. ^ Federation Focus: Latvia (English)

External links[edit]