All square after first leg in Tartu

TARTU – The first Semi-Final tipped off strong, as current Estonian championship leaders TU/Rock took on Lithuanian side Pieno Zvaigzdes. After a level-sided bout, the game ended in a draw with the score tied at 88-88. We will find out the victors of the series in Pasvalys next week.

 

The home side, encouraged by a packed arena, had a good start to the game, especially on the defensive end, as Gert Dorbek led them to an 8-2 lead halfway through the first quarter. They retained a slight advantage throughout the quarter and finished the opening period leading by five.

The visitors looked stronger in the second quarter though, as they shot the ball well and quickly wiped away the deficit, even jumping ahead by four points themselves. Despite small runs happening for each side, neither Tartu, nor Pasvalys managed to sort anything out in the first half, as they entered halftime with 37-38 on the scoreboard.

Things really got lit after the break, as the Semi-Final turned into a high-paced shoot-out. Both teams were finding ways to the basket at will, but still neither could out-run their opponents. The quarter finished 26-25 in favor of University of Tartu and it was still a level-pegged game at 63 points apiece before the final quarter.

TU/Rock came out focused and managed to get their noses in front by five in the opening minutes, as Pasvalys were shut down, scoring all their points from the free-throw line in the three opening minutes. Janari Joesaar performed a couple of highlight plays that allowed the home side to advance their lines to eight points a minute later.

Nevertheless, the margin quickly dwindled down, as the scoring continued coming in bunches. With 30 seconds on the clock, three points stood between the two clubs, as Steponas Babrauskas drained a difficult three-point shot to tie the game up. Tartu dribbled out most of the shot-clock knowing they had the final attempt, but ended up missing. With the score tied at 88, the teams would find out the victor of the series in a do-or-die game in Pasvalys.

Pieno Zvaigzdes Head Coach Ramunas Cvirka: "Our big problem today was defensive rebounding. Much of the other things are the same, three point shots, two point shots, but 21 offensive rebounds for them... That we have to improve on. Offensively, I was happy with the game, 88 points is a good result. I'd be happier if we'd won it, but a tie is not bad."

Tartu Head Coach Gert Kullamae: "I think it'll be good going on from this result. Whoever wins the next game is moving forward, no playing mind games, no nothing. Very straight-forward. I think both teams played good quality offense today and that reflects in statistics on both sides too. However, I do still think we can definitely play better defensively in some moments, especially against their threes - some of the players, very good shooters anyway, got too much freedom. To come out with a win next time, we have to improve for sure."