Štelmahers confident defense will pave Ventspils' way

The final days before the Olybet BBL Cup are being counted down and the Baltic Basketball League (BBL) introduces you to the four participating teams. Next up is Latvian powerhouse Ventspils.


Roberts Štelmahers, one of Latvia’s all-time best point guards and the current head coach of Ventspils told us about the goals and sights of the club, the vocal points of preparation for the season and what can be expected from this roster. Akselis Vairogs also chipped in with some thoughts on the capabilities of the team.

First of all, Štelmahers wanted to acknowledge the milestone Ventspils just reached this year – a 20 year anniversary: “I want to congratulate our club with the 20th anniversary. It is a very significant milestone and I am very happy that there is such a club in Latvia that has played high level basketball for such a long time.”

He also indicated that this year the team is obliged to aim even higher and that the players will enter the court with even higher confidence and extra motivation. Just like they did in previous seasons, Ventspils will go out trying to win every game and every tournament they partake in.

Štelmahers also gave some insight on preparations for the season. The team faced some difficulties in loss of personnel and building up the team was the focal point of the offseason. According to the head coach, the club formation is a work in progress. While they are not yet 100% tactically ready, Ventspils are intensely working on it to reach the highest results.

When asked what three words would describe his team, the coach was strict: “Right now I can say just one word that has been used to describe our team during the last couple of seasons and that would be defense!” Obviously, this game-plan has been working for the club and hopefully, they manage to keep the results coming.

Coach downplayed the importance of the big loss in a previous friendly tournament final against Liepaja, but admitted that it’s always nice to take a victory back and perhaps bring home a trophy.

“At this moment the team is just forming and trying to find its own rhythm. That is the reason why there could be some tough losses during the preparation process. It is normal because we experiment with things we definitely would not be doing during the regular season. But how else can we test the strengths and weaknesses of the team and each player's abilities? Nevertheless, we will play, we will fight and we will try to bring victories from each and every game.”

Akselis Vairogs, who will be playing his 10th season for Ventspils, was not yet ready to compare this roster to previous ones, but was confident that the team can reach high goals.

“Each season comes with new hopes and surprises but only during the season we can talk about how this team is different from the previous teams. I can't tell you just yet because we are still in the preparation process and we still have a lot of work to do. But I think if we work hard and a lot on our game and ourselves, the team will build a good understanding and trust in each other, now then - I can tell you - this team will be at its best.”

Ventspils’ first shot at revenge is getting closer and closer – the Olybet BBL Cup takes place in Liepaja this weekend and the Latvian champions will face Liepaja/Triobet and either TU/Rock or Siauliai during the tournament.