With their Backs to the Wall
Uri Savir ,09/17/2004
Israel hosts Latvia in a must-win game at the Metro-West. If the Blue-White don't want to depend on other results, they mustn't lose their last 3 games.

This is definitely not how we thought the situation in Group B will be after the first round. Last place, after a humiliating road defeat and even more shocking home-loss to Portugal, with only one home game left.

But this is the way things turned out to be, and with that Israel have to manage now. On Saturday evening Israel will host Latvia in the third straight home game, and also the last of this campaign, as loss is not even an option, not to mention revenge.

In the last summer Israel routed Latvia in the European Championship, but since then the Latvians got a new coaching staff, and broke out to a new way, without Bagatskis and Kambala.

In their first game at Ventspils, Latvia demolished the Blue-White team 80-57 in a great game. Between that game and tomorrow, they survived Portugal's away scare and fell to Bulgaria's big third quarter.

However, their situation is still the best of the group, as they finish with two home games, when the last one is against Bulgaria, in which they'll already know in what margin they need to win.

Stelmahers, who was great in the first game, is fighting a knee-injury, and played only a few minutes in Varna, but he's supposed to be fit for Israel.

The injured Moshe Mizrachi didn't practice on Friday, and he'll be replaced by Erez Katz. Mizrachi's injury leaves Israel with only 2 small forwards: Sharon Sasson and Uri Cohen-Mintz.

The game kicks off in Metro-West, Ra'anannna at 20:00. In the other match of Group B, Portugal hosts Bulgaria (17:00), after losing in the first leg 89-87.

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