Final, what final? It's Latvia v Lithuania!

The final of the FIBA basketball World Cup on September 10 is in danger of being overshadowed – by the playoff for fifth place a day before.

Following victories for both Latvia and Lithuania on September 7, the fifth-place playoff on Saturday, September 9 will be contested by the Baltic neighbors in what promises to be a colorful, loud and highly enjoyable celebration of two small countries' big basketball hearts.

Latvia beat Italy 87:82 on Thursday and Lithuania beat Slovenia 100:84 to set up Saturday's all-Baltic bonanza. The winners will finish the tournament in fifth place, with the losers sixth. Slovenia and Italy will also meet on Saturday to decide 7th and 8th places.

The Latvia v Lithuania match takes place in Manila at 15:30 Baltic time (20:30 local time).

Anticipation of the game has reached the highest levels, with messages exchanged between the Latvian and Lithuanian presidents.

Usually, basketball-mad Lithuania would be regarded as the favorites for a win between the two teams, but such has been Latvia's recent form that bookmakers are making them the favorites for a win and Baltic bragging rights. Regardless of the result, an arena packed with cheering Latvian and Lithuanian fans should mean basketball itself is the real winner.

Regardless of Saturday's result, a special welcome home event for the team has been confirmed. It will take place at the Freedom Monument in central Rīga at 17:30 on Monday.


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