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9 Dairis Bertans (LAT)
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Dairis Bertans to boost World Cup-chasing Latvia in crunch clash at Montenegro

RIGA (Latvia) - FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019-chasing Latvia will be drinking at the last chance saloon this month when they take on Spain and Montenegro in the European Qualifiers.

Giving the team a boost in the second game, a potential do-or-die game against Montenegro in Podgorica on February 25, will be guard Dairis Bertans.

Latvia's 24-player squad for FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers
Artis Ate Arturs Ausejs Dairis Bertans Janis Blums
Artjoms Butjankovs Klavs Cavars Rolands Freimanis Ingus Jakovics
Arturs Kurucs Rihards Lomazs Martins Meiers Mareks Mejeris
Anzejs Pasecniks Zanis Peiners Davis Rozitis Ojars Silins
Aigars Skele Rolands Smits Arturs Strautins Janis Strelnieks
Janis Timma Kaspars Vecvagars Marcis Vitols Ronalds Zakis

It is also hoped that fellow Latvia veterans Janis Strelnieks and Janis Timma will feature in that game with the two Olympiacos players having been named in the 24-man squad.

"The Milan club has confirmed that Dairis Bertans will be able to join the national team after the game (against Spain) on February 21," coach Arnis Vecvagars said in a statement published on Instagram. "There are reasonable expectations that Olympiacos will do the same for Janis Strelnieks and Janis Timma. Communication with clubs and representatives of other players continues."

Bertans has had a lot of big performances for his country in his four FIBA EuroBaskets, dating back to 2011. In the Group Phase clash with Serbia at FIBA EuroBasket 2017 in Istanbul, Bertans, now 29, had 23 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds.

At that same EuroBasket, he had 9 points and 5 assists in a 100-68 Latvia rout of Montenegro in the Round of 16.

The Baltic country controls its own destiny in the European Qualifiers. Victories in both games would clinch a top-three place in Group I and a spot in the 32-team World Cup in China, which tips off at the end of August.

If the Latvians were to fall to Spain, a win against Montenegro could still be enough, depending on other results, if they win the tie-breaker against the Balkan side. Depending on other results, Latvia can also tie with Montenegro and Turkey for second, third and fourth place and qualify if they win against Montenegro by 9 points.

In the European Qualifiers, Vecvagars' team lost a couple of hard-fought encounters in their first meetings with Spain (85-82)  in Madrid and Montenegro (84-75) in Riga.

Latvia have yet to play in national team basketball's flagship competition.