The Latvian averaged 22 points and 5.5 rebounds, all while shooting at an incredible clip. He's hit 17-of-23 field goals, including an astonishing 8-of-11 from downtown in the two games Valmiera won before he got injured.
A broken bone in his hand has left Martins Laksa without basketball for at least six weeks, but he is already looking to get back and show what a healthy Valmiera/ORDO is capable of.
Laksa had his take on individual awards versus team success, Valmiera/ORDO's early season injury troubles and the Triobet BBL format.
The Triobet BBL organization would like to congratulate you on raking in the October MVP honors. What’s your take on individual awards? Is it something you cherish, or is it just a nice side task for you?
First of all, thank you. Of course, it’s always pleasant to receive some kind of recognition either for myself or for the team as a whole. But with all due respect, individual award do not bring that much to the table, I suppose. At the end of the day, everyone will care first and foremost about the team and its place in the standings. Everyone will remember what kind of basketball the team was playing, whether it won any titles and how they finished the season.
Well, talking about the team – is it right to say that the start of the season has started not exactly the way you’d hoped for?
I think it’s fair to say that the start of season is totally unlike the one which we and our supporters had imagined. I don’t know who could be satisfied with the performances we’ve put up recently. We haven’t had any easy games and even the wins we are getting are always hard fought, but speaking of the losses… Let's put it this way – we have had some very unpleasant losses, which you usually would not expect from the reigning Latvian champions. Looking at it from a different perspective, you win trophies at the end of the season, not at the start – so we have time to fix our flaws. However, that does not change the fact that currently we are not displaying the best basketball we are capable of playing. And of course, some of it is also connected with our injury problems, as we constantly have someone missing from the line-up.
You mentioned the Latvian championship – could it be that the title puts additional pressure on Valmiera/Ordo?
Exactly so, for us this is a big responsibility. Everyone expects to see us playing high quality basketball at all times, but for now we’re unable to fulfill these expectations. There is pressure on us from all sides and, of course, also from ourselves. We haven`t managed to deal with that yet. Even the aspects of the game that we were great at last season, currently aren’t going well, and that leads to losses.
This year, our team has a new coach again – Uvis Helmanis. Maybe there is still some time needed to get used to each other?
I honestly don’t think there is any reason to look for fault in the coaching staff or something like that. We just have a lot of injuries. We were waiting for players to return on roster, but now we have even more problems, including my own injury.
Is it something serious?
Well yeah, I guess so – it’s a broken bone in my hand, I’m out for at least six weeks. That will also leave an impact on the team. We had also quite unlucky experience with foreign players. Ovidijus Varanauskas has already returned home, while American guard Carson Puriefoy is also injured. We need to fight with injuries all the time, and that doesn’t allow us to show our best performance. We are not able to play as quick and with the same intensity as coach would like us to, so in this situation it’s not right to talk anything about it being the coach’s fault.
But you yourself don’t expect to return earlier than middle of December?
That’s right. I do hope in January everyone will be finally back and ready to play. Haralds Karlis, Arturs Berzins, and now also Rinalds Malmanis injured his ankle... We kind of have a hospital here, while the rest of the players need to play in positions that they’re not used to.
Well, we wish you and your team to get back on track, of course! But in the end I wanted to ask you about your opinion on the current BBL system and format. Maybe you have some suggestions?
I believe the current format with two groups is quite fine. Participating teams from Belarus and Kazakhstan give us some new refreshing competition, and I think that foreign teams from outside the Baltic States are also interesting for fans. Although if you meant asking about the play-off system – I think that those eight teams, which will start the BBL season from the first round of the play-offs have earned that place by representing Baltic States in European competitions. Sure, it would be much better if all strongest Baltic teams, including Zalgiris and VEF, would play the full regular season at BBL, but it’s their decision.