Kaufmanis saves Valmiera in Rakvere

RAKVERE – A magnificent clutch performance by Janis Kaufmanis brought Valmiera the first victory of the new Baltic Basketball League (BBL) season, as the Latvian side squeezed out a 94-90 victory against Tarvas on Saturday night.


The 24-year-old Latvian guard Kaufmanis finished the game with 34 points, while Valmiera caught up with the Rakvere side in Group A standings, as both teams have a 1-1 record.

Leading 22-17 after the first quarter, Tarvas had a slight advantage for the majority of the first half, but Valmiera went on a late run in the second period to take a 41-40 edge at the half.

After a scoring outburst in the third quarter, Valmiera increased the advantage to 75-61, but the game was far from over, as it took Tarvas only four minutes to get back in front.

Spurred on by the home crowd, the home side went on a 22-3 run in the fourth quarter and gained a 83-78 lead halfway through the final period.

The drama did not end here – late-game heroics from Janis Kaufmanis, who scored 11 points for his team in the decisive rally to bring Valmiera in front 91-90 with a minute left in the game.

With 23 seconds left Giedrius Gustas missed a two-pointer, but Raimonds Gabrans made only one of two free-throws, giving Tarvas another chance.

However, Kriisto Saage and Juris Umbrasko couldn’t find the target and Gabrans, who finished the game with 13 points and five assists, sealed the win, making both foul shots this time.

Kristaps Dargais and Ivars Zvigurs added 12 points each for the winners.

Rait Keerles collected 29 points for Tarvas, Giedrius Gustas scored 15, while Kristo Saage added eight points and 12 boards.