Calm Miezis is 3x3’s ultimate finisher in the clutch
JEDDAH (Saudi Arabia) - Even when taking the biggest shot of his career - on the World Tour's biggest stage - Nauris Miezis never doubted himself.
With Riga one point away from losing the Jeddah Final's title deciding game, a composed Miezis knew he would deliver if given the opportunity.
Liman, however, had numerous chances to score the title-winning bucket - including an agonizing near missed layup from Stefan Kojic - but couldn't crack Riga's masterful defense.
With 11.8 seconds left, Riga had possession and all eyes were on which of their superheroes would take the season's biggest shot. Karlis Lasmanis aka 'Batman' had delivered an epic Tissot Buzzer Beater to beat Liman at the Doha Masters final but the ball went to his co-star 'Robin'.
Even under the most intense pressure, Miezis did not panic and, instead, waited for the defense to falter. He was guarded tightly by Stefan Stojacic but he and Aleksandar Ratkov miscommunicated and lost the crafty Latvian in a pick.
The 1.90m (6ft 3in) sharpshooter suddenly found himself wide open - except he was well beyond the two-point line. "I have huge belief in myself," Miezis said of the moment. "I always said that Liman will make a mistake, and this time they made a mistake in the defensive play.
"I took the shot with confidence when they made the mistake. I knew that this was the best chance."
The 29-year-old didn't think of the huge stakes. Instead, he went back to the basics of the craft and ensured his stroke was flawless - something he has done countless times before.
Miezis perfectly followed through with his shot after release and then watched the ball drain through the net to prove that he is 3x3's ultimate assassin.
"In that situation, there is no time to be nervous," he said. "It was a great opportunity and I took it because I knew that was the best opportunity."
Unlike Lasmanis, Miezis keeps his emotions in check and he stayed true to form even after clinching Riga's first ever World Tour Final. He calmly raised both arms in the air as Lasmanis and Edgars Krumins sunk to their knees and roared in celebration.
"After the ball went into the net, I understood what happened. It was unbelievable, I was very excited," said Miezis, who was named MVP in Jeddah. "I will remember that for all my life, I am sure."
It was the biggest ever title for Riga, who won three of the five trophies on offer in this shortened season. Having soared past 3x3 powerhouses Liman and Novi Sad, Riga are now wearing the crown after being so close the past couple of years.
Riga lost a thrilling World Tour Final decider in Beijing two years ago against mighty Novi Sad, who went undefeated in 2018.
"We were so close but we had a lack of experience," Miezis said. "We knew that if we keep working hard one day it will happen. I am really glad that it happened (the defeat in 2018) and it happened for a reason."
The dynamic duo of Miezis and Lasmanis often overshadows Riga but the team has built almost perfect chemistry over the past three seasons. They complement each other seamlessly with sniper Krumins lifting his output this season, while defensive anchor Agnis Cavars does all the little things.
"The chemistry is not only between me and Lasmanis - there is chemistry between all teammates and we are going to grow," Miezis said. "My team is like a Swiss watch - works excellently, doesn't stop and is the best in the world."
It's little wonder he continually hits Tissot Buzzer Beaters.
In the clutch, Nauris Miezis runs like clockwork.