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Hottest team in the world: no one can stop Latvia



MUNICH (Germany) – Quick quiz question for basketball fans out there: who is the hottest team in the world right now?

The number one team in the FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike, United States? Nope.

The freshly-crowned FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 champions, Germany? Try again.

Reigning FIBA EuroBasket champs Spain? Wrong again.

No, the hottest team on the globe right now is Latvia – yep, the small nation of 1.88 million people in northern Europe which is ranked No. 8 in the world. 

Since then, as first reported by sportacentrs, Latvia have reeled off 23 wins in 26 games – including the first two games in the FIBA EuroBasket 2025 Qualifiers. The only other nation to have won at 80 percent of official FIBA games in the same span is Australia.

“I am not counting,” commented Banchi. “I am not attracted to those numbers. I know that we have to win the next game. We still have the same approach from the very beginning. We still want to keep the humility and the desire to prove that we deserve such a level and that we belong at this level.”



23 3 88.5


27 4 87.1


31  8 79.5


23 76.7


25 8 75.8

Latvia started the FIBA EuroBasket 2025 Qualifiers with two wins as they beat Spain 79-75 on the road and then eventually ran way from Slovakia late for a 64-52 victory at home.

And Latvia don’t even need to win the qualifying games as they are already secured a spot in next summer’s major tournament as one of the four co-hosts.

“We are touching the best level ever for Latvian basketball,” stated head coach Luca Banchi. “We are really proud of this. But we are still keeping the same mentality, the same approach and keep the engine going. This is our secret.”

And, the Latvia-Banchi relationship has been golden from the very start.

Latvian basketball were questioning themselves back in February 2021 after failing to qualify for FIBA EuroBasket 2022 – the first time they missed the continental tournament since 1999. A month later, they hired Banchi as their new coach.

In their first games under Banchi, Latvia amassed a 4-0 record in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Pre-Qualifiers. They then went 11-1 in the European Qualifiers – including 11 straight wins to reach their first World Cup.

Debuting on the global stage, Banchi’s men shocked France, Spain and Brazil in getting through the two group stages in Jakarta.

Latvia were then a missed three-pointer from Davis Bertans from knocking off eventual champions Germany in the Quarter-Finals in Manila, before bouncing back in strong fashion to beat Italy and Lithuania for fifth place in their first-ever appearance at the World Cup.

And Latvia returned home as heroes.

What has been impressive is all the ‘big nations’ that Latvia have beaten along the way. Before taking down those giants at the FIBA World Cup, Latvia knocked off Serbia once in qualifying while also grabbing two wins each over Greece, Turkey, Belgium and Great Britain.

Banchi said his team really lives off the passion of the fans: “We have to refill our tank with the enthusiasm of our fans, with the desire of the players to participate.”



Banchi and his team know that they want to build upon the momentum from the FIBA World Cup. But he also said it’s a new chapter they are starting.

“It was very important for us to approach this new chapter with these types of performances. Teams are very well prepared. They approach Team Latvia in a very different way.

“We overcame the troubles we had through a very solid team performance. We remained calm and 
we showed everybody that we are ready to compete when the game becomes tough and tight. And that is a good signal for us.”

Banchi’s team gave the fans at the Arena Riga a show of determination and desire and something to look forward to next summer when they welcome the continent to Latvia.

Who knows if Latvia will still be the hottest team in the world by then. But they are right now.


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