It has already been reported that on Monday Latvia ended the qualifying cycle of the European Championship with a loss in the extension for Greece – 94:97 (23:25, 28:17, 18:17, 13:23, 12:15).
In Group H, Bosnia and Herzegovina finished with five victories, Greece won four victories, Bulgaria has two victories, all entering the final tournament, but Latvia did not qualify for the final tournament with one victory for the first time since 1999.
Vējonis reminded that the last year has been difficult enough for the men’s team, because the conditions in which the work had to be organized were not easy. Therefore, despite the outstanding task, he thanked the coaches who worked in the unpredictable conditions of Covid-19, as well as basketball players who found an opportunity to go to the national team and who wanted to start in the national team.
“Overall, the start is not satisfactory,” he confirmed. “Neither I nor the basketball community are happy. So it is clear why there is no result. I will talk to all parties involved in the coming days to understand why this is the case.
He also mentioned that a board meeting had already been convened on Thursday to decide what to do next.
Regretting that the European Championship would take place without the participation of the Latvian team, he added that it would not be right to whine and beat ourselves, but “we must be aware of the shortcomings that need to be remedied in order to use our opportunities”.
The president of LBS confirmed that Stelmacher has announced that he will not continue to lead the team. Therefore, the task of LBS is to find a new coach to lead the national team, starting with the World Cup qualifiers. The new coach will have the goal to win the preliminaries, overcome the qualification and start in the World Cup.
He noted that this will not be an easy task, as many players have outgrown coaches and it is not easy to find coaches of this class. Therefore, more attention should be paid to raising the qualification of local coaches, which is one of the tasks of LBS.
At the same time, it is necessary to think about who will represent Latvia in the next five to ten years, and from the U-14 age group we must work to ensure that Latvian basketball players are represented in all competition formats.
As another necessary measure, the President of LBS mentioned the strengthening of the Latvian Basketball League in general, in order to have a more competitive team in the Latvian Championship, as well as to think about closer cooperation with Lithuanians, because there is a lot to learn from them.
Vējonis also mentioned that the losses will be reflected in the support of sponsors at different levels. Therefore, it will be important to restore the sponsors’ trust in the future by highlighting “Maxima”, which has recently joined Latvian basketball.
A good start in the World Cup qualifiers can help the sponsors to recover. Therefore, the candidacies of the next head coach of the men’s national team will be evaluated very carefully, first paying attention to the Latvian coaches and then looking abroad.
LBS Secretary General Kaspars Cyprus also thanked all the participants of the Latvian national team, emphasizing that this has been a very difficult cycle for the coaches, because usually “it was not known until the last moment which players would come to the” bubble “”.
He noted that in choosing a coach it is important not to rush anything and do nothing “on hot coals”. It is important to understand the vision of LBS members. “If we choose a foreigner, it must be superior to local specialists,” Cyprus emphasized, adding that the candidacy of the head coach should be clarified by the end of May.
Vējonis praised Valdis Valters, “who started to build a basketball system in his time”, and it is not for nothing that Latvia has quite a few players who play in the National Basketball Association (NBA), Euroleague and other strong clubs. “At the same time, there are problems, because we can gather the best players just a short time before important competitions. That’s why it’s hard to have test games where you can play and find tactical solutions.”
“It is important for us to keep our hands on the pulse, keep track of the national team candidates and understand who is the best in the national team at any given time,” added the president of LBS.
He also rejected the idea of a change of coach during this European Championship qualifying cycle, but Cyprus confirmed that after the first two losses in the qualifying tournament, a possible addition to the coaching corps in the final tournament was being considered, but LBS had to reveal its cards to Australia. Andrejs Sprendani, a specialist of Latvian origin.