04 - 09
July 2016
9 Dairis BERTANS (Latvia); 10 Janis TIMMA (Latvia)
to read

Latvia trim preliminary squad to 16 following French test

RIGA (2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments) – Latvia resumed on Sunday their preparations for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament [OQT] in Belgrade with 16 players on hand, as head coach Ainars Bagatskis decided to reduce the size of his preliminary squad by two players in the wake of the Baltic team's first warm-up game this summer.

Following the Latvian national team's return from France, where on Thursday night they lost 89-72 to Les Bleus, Bagatskis announced that Martins Laksa and Davis Lejasmeiers would be released from training camp.

Latvian 16-player preliminary squad for OQT in Belgrade

Dairis Bertans Janis Berzins Kaspars Berzins Janis Blums
Rolands Freimanis Ingus Jakovics Martins Meiers Mareks Mejeris
Anzejs Pasecniks Zanis Peiners Ojars Silins Aigars Skele
Rolands Smits Janis Strelnieks Janis Timma Kaspars Vecvagars

Both wingers were aiming to step out this summer at their first major tournament with the national team but Latvia have a wealth of options on the wing, which creates huge competitions among players at these positions for a spot on the final roster. Bagatskis gave both some playing time in the friendly clash in France, with 25-year-old Lejasmeiers featuring for 13 minutes and 26-year-old Laksa staying on the floor for nine minutes.

"I would like to thank both Martins Laksa and Davis Lejasmeiers," Bagatskis said. "I am sure that the practices with the national team and the game in France were valuable experiences to both of them. They both helped the team become stronger. Unfortunately, we are forced to take painful decisions and reduce further the number of players involved in training so that work can become more productive and that we focus on the essentials."

Meanwhile the four players who were not available during the first stage of preparations and consequently did not travel to France last week, joined their team-mates at training camp on Sunday. Janis Strelnieks and Ojars Silins were involved in the German and Italian league play-off finals, respectively, until 13 June and had therefore a brief rest before starting preparations, Janis Timma had received permission to join late while Zanis Peiners was recovering from a dental infection.

Bagatskis will have three days of work with the preliminary squad in full strength before Latvia's next friendly test, this time on home soil. The Baltic side play host to Tunisia in Liepaja on Wednesday and next week they will face New Zealand and Iran in Riga.

The Latvians will go up against Japan and the Czech Republic in Group B of the Belgrade OQT. If they advance, Latvia will go up in a semi-final against Serbia, Angola or Puerto Rico. The semi-final winners will meet in the game which decides which team gets the coveted ticket to Rio.