Having won the two previous editions of the league, Siauliai will go up against another Lithuanian side Lietkabelis in regional derby, which means that Lithuanian will certainly have a team in the Championship Round. Meanwhile, TU/Rock and Valmiera/ORDO will be playing for the second ticket to the Final on the other side of the bracket.
Siauliai vs Lietkabelis
Siauliai entered the competition from the Play-Offs after being eliminated in the First Group Stage of the FIBA Europe Cup. The Eight-Final tie against Port of Parnu was a breeze for the back-to-back champions, who posted a 186-141 win on aggregate.
The Quarter-Final round was definitely more tightly contested, but a 73-64 victory against Jekabpils in the first leg at home in Lithuania was enough to see Siauliai through, despite a two-point loss on the road.
Their Semi-Final opponents, Lietkabelis, had an excellent Regular Season in Triobet BBL and finished first in Group A with a 10-2 record, which was good enough for second in the Regular Season rankings.
After drawing the first game of the Eight-Final tie with Jurmala/Fenikss 88-88 on the road in Latvia, Lietkabelis took care of business with a convincing 92-78 victory at home in Panevezys to qualify for the Quarter-Finals, where they topped Nevezis 148-120 on aggregate after a big win in the first game.
Big man David Dudzinski had been the key man for Siauliai, averaging 18 points and 4 rebounds per game on 52% shooting from three-point range in Triobet BBL Play-Offs. The team’s captain Gintaras Leonavicius has also been a steady contributor.
Rokas Giedraitis has also had a big impact after being sent back to his former club on loan by Lietuvos Rytas. The 23-year-old athletic swingman has put up averages of 15 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists per game.
However, as part of the deal, Siauliai sent a key piece in Arturas Jomantas to Vilnius, which will undoubtedly be a big loss for the club.
Meanwhile, Lietkabelis will be relying on the 216 cm Serbian giant Mile Ilic to do some damage to a fairly limited Siauliai frontcourt. Ilic, who leads the team in points, rebounds and blocks has been the main man in the middle after Arturas Valeika got sidelined with an injury.
In a generally well-rounded team, Miljan Pavkovic serves an important role of orchestrating the offense and is averaging 8.1 points and 5.7 assists. He will receive some help from Zygimatnas Janavicius, who joined the team recently from Lietuvos Rytas.
The trio of Arnas Labuckas, Valdas Vasylius and Jermaine Love should be also on the scouting radar of Siauliai as players who could be dangerous in the tie.
TU/Rock vs Valmiera/ORDO
TU/Rock had more success in the FIBA Europe Cup than Siauliai, advancing from the First Group Stage before eventually running out of steam in the second phase. The Estonian club has steamrolled its opponents in the Triobet BBL Play-Offs so far and has not shown any signs of slowing down.
In the Eight-Final stage, the Tartu club blew out Barsy with an aggregate score of 204-151 after winning both of the legs handily. They did, however, have an advantage of playing both games at home.
Although the victory margin of the Quarter-Final series was smaller, there was little intrigue in the tie itself, as TU/Rock won the first leg against Liepaja/Triobet by 27 points before finishing off all formalities with closer 80-76 win away from home.
In all fairness, the path to the Semi-Final was not all that difficult for Valmiera/ORDO as well, as the Latvian side eased past TLU Kalev in the Eight-Final stage with a 171-134 win on aggregate before taking care of Pieno Zvaigzdes in the Quarter-Final.
At one point in the first leg, the Valmiera club held a 34-point lead, but a rather wasteful end to the game allowed the Lithuanians to cut the gap to 10 and keep some hope, but Valmiera/ORDO pushed them with an 80-78 victory at home.
In the four games played in Triobet BBL, Brian Harper has been the most impactful player for TU/Rock, averaging 15 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1 steal per game. Evaldas Zabas has been probably the second most important piece on the team, with averages of 14.5 points and 5.5 assists per game.
There is no clear leader on Valmiera/ORDO, but Martins Laksa, Aigars Skele and Armands Skele stand out as the three players averaging double digits in points. Laksa is the top scorer with 11.5 points per game, while brothers Aigars and Armands collect 11.2 and 11.1 respectively.
The addition of American point guard Kwamain Mitchell, who already made his debut against Pieno Zvaigzdes, added a new spark to Roberts Stelmahers’ squad, who are looking to improve on what has turned out to be a historically good season for the club in the Baltic league.