RIGA (2017 FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup) – There will be a note of history for Latvia when they take to the court for the first time at the FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup.
The Baltic side have never featured at the event and the new chapter follows on from a first-ever appearance at the FIBA U17 Women’s World Championship in Zaragoza last year.
For head coach Ainars Cukste, their Group C opponents of France, Canada and particularly South Korea, all offer a chance for Latvia to continue enriching their basketball experiences at the global level.
He said: "Our opponents at this FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup are strong and interesting.
"Maybe it would have been a little easier to play against an African team, but with an Asian team in our group, it will be more interesting.
"France won the FIBA U18 European Women’s Championship last year and we lost to them 53-44 in the Semi-Final.
"We caused these opponents some serious problems on offense, but we also faced a very good sample of the French defense ourselves, which showed gaps in our own players' individual talents.
"For the Canadian and Korean teams, we will now study visual information and we know that one was the vice-champion of the Americas region and the other finished in third place in Asia."
Cukste, who was in charge when they booked their spot last year at the FIBA U18 Women's European Championship added: "It is important that our players avoid injuries if we are to succeed and we will have to take 1999 and probably even 2000-born players.
"The first objective will be to finish as high as possible in the group so do not then have to contend with the favorites."
While Latvia have never hit the hardwood at the U19 Worlds, they did appear in 2003 at the FIBA U21 Women's World Championship where the likes of the legendary Anete Jekabsone-Zogota suited up.