Co-hosts Latvia and Coach Zibarts are left sweating
RIGA (Latvia) - The hopes of FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2019 co-hosts Latvia have already taken some heavy blows and head coach Martins Zibarts is hoping better news will be confirmed soon.
Already without NCAA star Kitija Laksa, fans were rocked when it was also confirmed their headline star from the 2017 edition in the shape of Anete Steinberga would also not be playing at next month’s event for personal reasons.
Both were missing from the list of candidates announced by the Federation – as was veteran Gunta Basko-Melnbarde, who will be the new General Manager of the National Team.
|Latvia 16-player squad for FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2019
Consequently, Coach Zibarts will be hoping that he will be able to help react to these setbacks by getting TTT Riga and EuroLeague Women star Shey Peddy naturalized. She was included in the wider squad, but the small print is that this is subject to the paperwork being completed in time.
“Unfortunately, this year we will not be able to have the help of Kitija Laksa and Anete Steinberga. Kitija continues the rehabilitation process after a serious injury, while in turn, Anete will not attend this time for personal reasons," confirmed Zibarts.
"Shey Peddy has already proven with TTT Riga she can help her teammates discover their best qualities and play for the whole team. Her craftsmanship makes the national team more diverse.
"Successful participation with TTT Riga team for two seasons has helped Shey take one of her dreams of entering the WNBA, where she is currently training.
"Now she is very keen to help Latvia fight for our Olympic journey," he added.
There will still be some experience with other TTT players such as Kristine Vitola and Ieva Pulvere, plus the likes of combo guard Elina Dikaioulaku and forward, Aija Putnina.
There could be a huge emphasis on youth as Latvia are somewhat forced to turn the page, with 6 players aged 22-years-old or younger and these include Digna Strautmane who debuted at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2018, her sister Paula and rising stars such as Luize Septe, Laura Meldere and Aleksa Gulbe.
Latvia will face Great Britain, Ukraine and defending champions Spain in Riga.