Having won seven consecutive Latvian league championship trophies from 2000 to 2007, it has become much more difficult for Ventspils to keep up with their main rivals over the past couple to seasons.
Although the club has two more Latvian league titles to show for since their peak dominance, making the LBL Finals alone has got much tougher lately, as shown by Ventspils having to settle for bronze last season for the first time since 2010.
Headed by coach Karlis Muiznieks, who was the specialist behind the club’s golden era, the Latvian team seems to have done a stellar job over the summer and will enter the season with a very competitive roster.
The returns of the team’s old-timers Ronalds Zakis and Folarin Campbell and acquisitions of Willie Deane, Cheikh Mbodj, Edgaras Zelionis and Aigars Skele form a solid core, which will only be strengthened when Kristaps Janicenoks and Maris Gulbis return from the sidelines.
In the Semi-Final of the Triobet BBL Cup, the Latvian club has been pitted against their fierce Lithuanian rivals Siauliai, a fixture that has produced plenty of exiting duels over the years.
Although Siauliai won the last three editions of the Triobet BBL, the last other team to claim the title was Ventspils back in 2013.
The rivalry will be especially interesting to watch this year, given the contrasting strategies the teams have chosen in the off-season – Ventspils has built a roster that is filled with experience, while Siauliai will rely on a much younger set of players.
Probably slight favorites ahead of the tie with Siauliai, Ventspils will play the Semi-Final of the Triobet BBL Cup 2016 on Saturday, September 24 at 15:00.