Last night we took the students to watch a professional basketball game in the first division of Latvian basketball. Turiba College defeated Latvijas University 88-74. Both teams are from Riga and are in the middle of the table. I was really impressed with the level of play. Both teams played with much effort and it was fundamentally sound basketball from start to finish. It was very good for our players to watch. I learned about a new way of stretching (moving instead of sitting on the floor) and a new “circle defense” employed by Turiba and founded by a Russian coach. I need to explore this a bit more. Turiba had much more energy and better outside shooting to defeat LU’s star player, Zanis Pieners. The game was held in an old Soviet gym, with the fans on top in the balcony and the players and benches only on the floor. There were several hundred people at the game, including a couple of drunks, one who ran onto the floor during a time out with his shirt off. He was escorted back to his seat and watched the rest of the game with his shirt on.
Latvia like Lithuania, has a good basketball program. Arturs, the Athletic Director of the International School of Latvia was explaining the youth programs in the country. Every town and village have their leagues with a range of ages. The country only has just over 2 million people, so they need to be organized to produce top talent. The two teams last night, are universities that give scholarships to players so they can study, but still play professional basketball.
I would like to thank Arturs for arranging the game! Go Turibas!