Is a change of Latvian mentality fueling their success in the women's game?
BOURGES (FIBA U16 Women's European Championship 2017) - Latvia head coach Kaspars Majenieks believes a fundamental change of mentality is breeding success for his country at all levels of the women's game.
As the play-caller prepares to take Latvia into their first-ever Semi-Finals appearance at the FIBA U16 Women's European Championship, he has expressed how the concept of always threatening to choke in games is evaporating.
"Latvia are not showing too much respect for their opponents any longer. We are having the confidence to take the attack to them." Majenieks
In fact, making it to the last four of the competition is the latest achievement in the rise and rise of the women's game in his homeland.
"All the time in the past, from wars to sport; and also in basketball, it has always been about Latvian people defending and having that defensive mentality," said Majenieks. "But with this new generation of players we have with us and even those who have made it into the senior team in the past few years, we are changing this.
"Latvia are not showing too much respect for their opponents any longer. We are having the confidence to take the attack to them.
"I think finally we are seeing that we don't need to think about the idea of competing against bigger nations anymore. We showed even after a slow start against Germany [in the Quarter-Finals] that we can fight, be persistent and stay in the big moments at the end of any important game."
"Each (Latvian) team at different levels has been making this history recently and we are glad we can continue this momentum and success." Majenieks
Wednesday's 62-58 victory against the previously unbeaten Germany certainly made people sit up and take notice. It also continued a string of historical achievements in the past 12-18 months and set up a mouth-watering Semi-Finals clash with Hungary.
"Latvia has some strong belief at the moment and we are proud to make history and take the team back to the FIBA U17 Women's Basketball World Cup," stressed Majenieks. "Each team at different levels has been making this history recently and we are glad we can continue this momentum and success.
"I think the Semi-Final will be a nice game for people to watch. I hope so, because I like Hungary and their team-play. They move the ball well and love to play with just one real big player and then four generally outside-orientated players.
"It should be a good one and we will be well prepared and both teams will feel they have a good opportunity to make the Final," he concluded.