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Latvia ends France's Basketball World Cup title hopes

By AFP - Aug 27,2023 - Last updated at Aug 27,2023

JAKARTA — Tokyo Olympics silver medallists France was eliminated from Basketball World Cup title contention on Sunday after losing 88-86 to Latvia.

France, which also lost its opener to Canada, did not trail in the game until Latvia took the lead with just over 30 seconds remaining in Jakarta.

Arturs Zagars then nailed a free throw to put Latvia ahead by two points with 10 seconds remaining, and Sylvain Francisco missed a three-point attempt with France's final chance.

The result means France cannot finish higher than third in Group H, ending its chances of winning the Naismith Trophy a year before France hosts the Paris Olympics.

"It's a huge disappointment for us," said forward Nicolas Batum, one of several NBA players in the French squad.

"We came here with big expectations. We let a lot of people down, ourselves first.

"We have a big thing coming up in 12 months so we have to look back on what happened."

France's Nando de Colo was ejected for two unsportsmanlike fouls late in the fourth quarter.

Latvia, which is  making its tournament debut, outscored France 26-12 in the fourth quarter.

France head coach Vincent Collet said the defeat was "a nightmare".

"After the first defeat from Friday we were expecting a reaction," he said.

"I think we got it — a real one because during three quarters we played much better — but it was not enough because we have suffered from something from Friday.

"Our spirit was not at the Latvian level and I think that made the difference in the last couple of minutes."

Latvia won its opening game against Lebanon 109-70 and is now guaranteed to reach the next round.

Power forward Davis Bertans called their victory over France "the biggest win in Latvian basketball history since 1935".

"Getting a win like this against one of the top teams in the world, and feeling like we were playing at home, is an incredible feeling," he said.

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