Latvia beats ROC to inaugural men's 3x3 basketball gold; Serbs bag bronze

Latvia wiped out a five-point deficit for a 21-18 victory over ROC to be crowned the inaugural Olympic champions in the men’s 3x3 basketball at Tokyo 2020 while Serbia beat Belgium earlier in the evening for third on the podium. 

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Latvia wiped out a five-point deficit to claim a thrilling 21-18 victory over ROC and be crowned the inaugural Olympic champion of men's 3x3 basketball at these Tokyo 2020 Games.

The Latvian 3x3 basketball men's victory is the country's fourth gold medal at the Summer Olympic Games after artistic gymnastics (2000) and men's BMX racing (2008, 2012).

The match came to a dramatic conclusion, with Karlis Lasmanis landing a two-point gold-medal-winning shot behind the arc with seconds on the clock to spark off wild Latvian celebrations.

"It feels amazing. What can I say? I am really proud, I hope Latvia is proud of us," said Lasmanis.

"Finally, we bring gold back again to Latvia. That is huge for us."

ROC up early

The ROC team raced to a five-point lead as they bossed Latvia around the half-court hoops in the opening salvos of the contest. And ill-discipline cost Latvia dearly, allowing ROC some breathing space despite a solid defensive effort.

Kirill Pisklov sunk a long-distance two-pointer to give his side a 9-4 lead, but the cushion proved insufficient against a dogged Latvian side.

The Latvians launched a gritty fightback spearheaded by Lasmanis, his team's most-valuable-player contributing 10 points to their score.and they managed to claw their way back to level the scores at 13-all with less than four minutes left in the match.

A tit-for-tat battle ensued as the two sides exchanged blows, with Latvia getting their noses in front with one minute left courtesy of a Nauris Miezis shot.

With less than 30 seconds left in the game, Lasmanis landed the knockout blow to earn the Latvians the Olympic crown.

"Before the game, I didn't have any pressure like this is my final game or something," Lasmanis added.

"I just played this game like a regular game. I did it how I do it every time."

Serbs take the bronze

Earlier, pre-tournament favourites Serbia had to be content with the bronze medal with a resounding 21-10 victory over Belgium in the third-place game.

The bronze is Serbia’s third medal in any basketball discipline (traditional and 3x3) extending their tally total in the Olympic Games to 19 medals.

Serbia lived up to their favourites tag early on in the tournament winning six straight games before they suffered defeat to ROC in the semifinal.

“There were a lot of close games. It was a hard tournament,” said Dejan Majstorovic of Serbia. “There is a lot of regret because we are not in the final. That was our main goal and from this point of view I can say we are lucky we are leaving with that medal.”

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