Latvia Beats ROC to Win 2021 Olympic Men's 3x3 Basketball Gold Medal

Adam WellsJuly 28, 2021

Latvia's Karlis Lasmanis (2) celebrates victory over Belgium following a men's 3-on-3 semifinal basketball game at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, July 28, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Latvia's first medal of the 2020 Olympics was a historic one, as the men's 3x3 basketball team defeated the Russian Olympic Committee 21-18. 

This year marks the first time that 3x3 basketball has been included in the Olympic rotation.

Karlis Lasmanis dropped a game-high 10 points on 7-of-10 shooting overall. He and Nauris Miezis combined to make all four of Latvia's two-point shots in the win. 

The ROC came out of the gate strong. It made three of its first six two-point attempts and took a 9-4 lead with 6:46 remaining. 

From that point on, though, the Russians missed each of their next six two-point shots, opening the door for Latvia to get back in the game. 

The ROC did battle hard the rest of the way. The score was tied at 18 after Ilya Karpenkov's field goal with 1:22 left to play. 

Miezis put the Latvians back on top with a layup on a drive to the basket. Lasmanis' two-pointer with 28 seconds remaining sealed the win. 

The final 82 seconds were a mess for the Russians. They committed two turnovers and didn't manage to get one shot attempt off after Karpenkov's bucket. 

Despite the disappointing ending, the ROC turned out to be the Cinderella story of the tournament. Its 3-4 record in pool play was fifth out of six teams that advanced to the knockout stage. All Russian athletes at the Tokyo Games are competing under the ROC umbrella. A ruling last year by the Court of Arbitration for Sport banned Russia's team name as punishment for an extensive doping program and cover-ups.

After squeaking out a 21-19 win over the Netherlands in the quarterfinals, the ROC dominated the undefeated Serbian team 21-10 in the semifinal to reach the gold-medal game. 

Serbia went 7-0 in pool play with a plus-47 point differential. Latvia (plus-four) and Netherlands (plus-three) were the only other teams that had a positive point differential. 

Lativa went 4-3 in pool play before taking care of business in the knockout phase. It took care of business in the quarterfinal with a 21-18 win over Japan and cruised to a 21-8 victory in the semifinal against Belgium. 

This marks just the fifth Olympic gold medal in Latvia's history between the Summer and Winter Games. It's the first for the country since the men's bobsled team took first place at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.