The achievement of the Latvian men's national basketball team at its first ever FIBA World Cup can be evaluated as a success not only on the domestic scale, but in the entire basketball world. The performance of the national team allows Latvia to be proud of its team based on several surprising different facts.
In the FIBA rankings ahead of the World Cup final tournament, Latvia occupied only 29th place – yet made it to within one score of a top-four finish. Whatever its final finishing position between 5th and 8th places, Latvia sensationally outperformed its ranking.
The Latvian national team wasn't particularly lucky with its draw and didn't just take down weaker teams – it defeated several of the pre-tournament favorites including France, Brazil and reigning champions Spain, and tested Germany to the limit. It's true that Canada beat Latvia convincingly, but apart from that, Latvia was in a position to win all its other games.
3 Part of 'little' Europe
Six of the eight teams in the World Cup quarter-finals were from Europe and as pointed out by Lithuanian journalist Jonas Miklovas, three of those – Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia – have a combined population of fewer than 7 million people. So, while we tend to think of big countries like the USA and Spain as the places where basketball is biggest – not least because of the NBA and European leagues – there is an argument to say that smaller countries deliver more bang per capita.