Debutants Latvia sent heavyweights France crashing to a shock Basketball World Cup first-round exit on Sunday, while Canada underlined their title credentials in a blowout win over Lebanon.
Germany, the Dominican Republic, Montenegro and Lithuania all claimed their second victories in as many games, while Japan and Angola picked up their first wins of the competition.
France, Olympic silver medallists in Tokyo two years ago, tumbled out after a stunning 88-86 loss to Latvia in Jakarta.
The French, who were roasted by Canada in their opening game, did not trailed until Latvia took the lead with just over 30 seconds remaining.
Arturs Zagars then nailed a free throw to put Latvia ahead by two points with 10 seconds left, and Sylvain Francisco missed a three-point attempt with France’s final chance.
Nicolas Batum, one of several NBA players in France’s squad, said the result was “a good kick in the butt” just 12 months out from the Paris Olympics.
“I wasn’t really ashamed with that jersey but that’s the first time I’m really ashamed,” said the Los Angeles Clippers forward.
“I’m scared to go home because we have let a lot of people down. A lot of people in the country believed in us to do something.
“They believed in it and we didn’t do it.”
Latvia outscored France 26-12 in the fourth quarter, in which French playmaker Nando de Colo ejected for two unsportsmanlike fouls.
Batum said the incident was “the turnaround of the game”.
“The momentum completely switched, and when we lost our general — because that’s who he is — it was a huge blow for us,” he said.
Latvia beat Lebanon in their opening game and they are guaranteed a place in the next round.
Power forward Davis Bertans said the debutants “didn’t come here to participate”.
“The job is still the same — nothing is done,” he said.
“The more wins we can collect now, the better the chances for us to go further and do something even more special.”
Canada thrash Lebanon
In the day’s other Group H game, Canada set a new record for the most assists in a World Cup game with 44 in their 128-73 win over Lebanon.
Head coach Jordi Fernandez said he was proud of his players’ unselfish attitude.
“It just shows that sharing is caring and these guys were ready to play the right way, play with a pass,” he said.
“In games like this, teams have the tendency for players to do it on their own and try to dribble too much.”
All 11 Canada players who saw game time registered at least one assist, led by Trae Bell-Haynes on eight.
Canada laid down a marker with their opening 95-65 win over France and Bell-Haynes said he was “super-excited that we kept our momentum” against Lebanon.
“We talked about making sure that there wasn’t any fall-off, and I think we did a good job,” he said.
In Group E in Okinawa in southern Japan, Germany edged Australia 85-82 in a thriller that went to the wire.
Germany’s Dennis Schroder scored 30 points to outduel Australia’s Patty Mills, who hit 21 to become the Boomers’ second-highest World Cup scorer ever with an all-time 311 points.
Germany scored 10 unanswered points to begin the fourth quarter, and head coach Gordon Herbert said his team “started the game really well and we ended it really well”.
“I thought the beginning of the fourth quarter was a key point for us,” he said.
“We had lost a little bit of momentum and the first three or four minutes of the fourth quarter were really good for us.”
Elsewhere in Group E, Japan overcame a 10-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter to beat Finland 98-88.
In Group A, the Dominican Republic beat Italy 87-82, and Angola silenced cohosts the Philippines 73-68.
Montenegro downed Egypt 89-74 in Group D, while Lithuania also picked up their second win, beating Mexico 96-66.
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