Tartu head home with a 12-point advantage over Kalev/Cramo

TALLINN – It was a surprisingly big victory for University of Tartu in the first game of the Bronze Final in Tallinn, as they defeated Kalev/Cramo 72-60 after a big spurt right after halftime. Having won on the road, it makes their task much easier, as they will start the return game up by 12 in their own fortress.


Most of the fans were hoping for a very level-sided affair, as it was when the two clubs faced off in the Estonian Cup final, with bookies giving Kalev/Cramo a slight edge at home.

The first quarter did not provide too much separation, as Kalev/Cramo’s lead never got any further than two possessions away. They ended up winning the quarter by three points after a last second lay-up from Tartu's Kent-Kaarel Vene.

The clubs went back and forth all throughout the first half and we were definitely hoping for a photo finish at the end of the game. Nevertheless, that was not meant to be, as University of Tartu jumped ahead right out of the halftime break with a 14-0 run, sending the home side into a knock-down.

With a double-digit lead entering the final fourth, the Tartu squad seemed to be fully in control and actually managed to build the lead up to a game-high 19 points after another big run. However, Kalev/Cramo were not ready to lay down their arms and finished the game with a couple good plays allowing them to cut into the deficit.

Despite that, it’s safe to say a 12-point margin will be very tough to overcome in a hostile environment.

Most of Tartu’s success relied on their big men. Although Dominykas Milka was the team’s top scorer with 15 points, it’s easy to point out Janari Joesaar as the key component to Tartu’s victory. He was a beast under the boards, tallying a strong double-double of 14 points and 16 rebounds. Tanel Sokk was also solid with 14 points to his name, while Janar Talts ended the game with 11.

Branko Mirkovic and Mickell Gladness were the two bright spots in an otherwise quite dull performance from Kalev/Cramo. Mirkovic scored 17 points and was the game’s top scorer, while his American colleague chipped in with 11 points and 7 rebounds. Cedric Simmons ended the game with 9 points.

It was a very disappointing night for Vitali Liutych, who set the Triobet BBL scoring record at 47 less than a month ago in the Quarterfinal against Barons kvartals. This time around, he only made one of nine shots and finished the game with just two points. In comparison, he’d averaged 24.6 points in the Playoffs prior to this game.