TU/Rock start Triobet BBL Finals with 7-point win

TARTU – Still undefeated in the Triobet BBL Play-Offs, TU/Rock stretched their winning streak to seven games after taking an 81-74 victory against Siauliai in the first leg of the Finals at home in Tartu on Tuesday evening.


The defending back-to-back champions Siauliai will have ground to make up in the return leg in Lithuania, where they will try to erase a seven-point deficit next Wednesday on April 6.

The visitors got off to a better start and took a 20-13 lead after two made free-throws by Assem Marei late in the opening quarter. However, TU/Rock managed to turn it around and got up 40-36 at the halftime break.

The club from Tartu enjoyed the lead for most of the third quarter, although Siauliai tied it at 54-54 with a minute left in the third quarter. Only a single point separated the sides with two minutes left in the final frame, but the hosts finished on a tear, increasing the gap to eight points at the time of the final buzzer.

Janar Talts led the winners with 22 points and seven rebounds, Tanel Kurbas added 18 points and five boards, while Reinar Hallik collected 14 points.

For Siauliai, Assem Marei had a team-high 19 points and nine boards, Rokas Giedraitis added 15 points, while Mike Scott finished with 11 points, six rebounds and four assists.


Gediminas Petrauskas, head coach of Siauliai: "First of all, congratulations to Tartu city and team – very great atmosphere and excellent conditions. Thank you for putting up a show and of course the game was interesting for the fans to watch. Unfortunately, some mistakes we made in the end cost us the seven-point margin.  Both the coaching staff and the players did not make the best decisions in the end and that cost us the seven-point difference. We have a difficult schedule – we will concentrate on LKL game on Sunday and after that can prepare for the second final game. Everything is still in our hands, seven points is not that a big difference, even though Tartu showed that they can play away as well. It is going to be an interesting game. Hopefully we will be good hosts and our fans will come and help put us up a good show as well."

Gert Kullamae, head coach of TU/Rock: "With this format of series we can not talk about a win, it was a tough first half. We were tactically prepared, things more or less worked and there were no big surprises. I feared before the game that we will lose the rebounding game and their big players will dominate under the basket. And that was exactly what happened, especially if we are missing Brian Harper. We have to analyze that.  Today some players played very well, but we still have room for improvement. We have to play the last game with good energy and big hearts and then we’ll see what happens."