LIEPAJA - Betsafe/Liepaja seem to finally have gotten things going for them, as they rose to their second consecutive victory, defeating Port of Parnu 80-72 after starting the season with 4 losses.
Betsafe/Liepaja started the game off on the right foot, quickly advancing their lead to double-digits points. With 9 points between them and their opponents, the hosts looked solid after the opening quarter.
However, the margin kept shrinking after that, and while it remained a two-possession game for most of the second and third quarter, Parnu were constantly breathing down their opponents' backs.
Before the third quarter finished, the visitors had managed to cut the deficit to just three and the opening basket of the final quarter made it just a one-point game. Nevertheless, the Liepaja side managed to finish out the final minute flawlessly and secured an 8 point win.
Karlis Lasmanis was the top-scorer for Betsafe/Liepaja, as he dropped 18 points and added 6 rebounds. Toms Leimanis and Kyle Benjamin chipped in with 16 apiece, while the latter also added 15 rebounds to the tally. Roberts Krastins ended the game with 13 points.
Karl Johan Lips had 20 points for the losing side, as Mikhel Kirves accounted for 16. Siim Markus Post finished the game with 15.
PASVALYS - Gediminas Petrauskas seems to have transitioned into his new position as Head Coach of Pieno zvaigzdes unbelievably quickly, as his team has just broken another scoring record in a 119-72 win against Tartu University.
The whopping 119 points was the best result in over a decade, as the all-time record was set back in the 2006/2007 season by another Lithuanian club Lietuvos Rytas.
The game seemed over before the players even broke a sweat, as the Lithuanians broke out to a 29-15 first quarter. If that wasn't bad enough, Pieno zvaigzdes put the game to bed in the second one, winning 33-14 and advancing their margin to 33 points.
The hosts kept on piling the points and it was clear to see Tartu were shocked and disheartened. The margin rose to a shocking 52 points late in the game, but the Estonians managed to cut back a couple points.
It was a wild night for the Pasvalys side, as they got 75 percent of their two-pointers and 53 percent of their threes to fall. They reached an incredible 161 ranking points, as every single player got on the score-sheet.
Eight players reached double-digit efficiency, but Vyacheslav Bobrov stood out with 21 points, playing a nearly faultless game and collecting an efficiency rating of 28. Arturs Ausejs added 19 points, while Tomas Lekunas chipped in with 17. Martynas Varnas also had a good night, tallying 16 points.
For Tartu University, Kristjan Kitsing and Janar Talts stood out as the best players, scoring respectively 16 and 15 points. Vytenis Cizauskas added another 15 points, but his 6 turnovers showed the trouble he went through throughout the game.
TALLINN - A high-scoring night for visiting Ogre marked their fourth victory in six games, as they defeated TTU 90-66.
TTU had the upper hand in the opening stages of the game, starting the game with a 7-2 run. Nevertheless, their opponents responded with an 11-1 run of their own and the tide began to change.
The visitors did have a small advantage after the first quarter and the two clubs remained on a similar level throughout the second quarter, but Ogre pushed ahead right after the break, advancing their lead to double-digits.
What seemed to be a fairly close game turned into a blow-out in the matter of ten minutes, as Ogre dominated the fourth quarter, turning a 6-point advantage after three quarters to a dominating 90-66 victory on the road.
Rinalds Sirsnins was his typical self, scoring most of his points from beyond the arc. He finished the game with 20 points, added 5 assists and 4 steals, to claim 26 ranking points. Janis Antrops added 16, while Guntis Sipolins assisted with 15 points. Gints Antrops ended up scoring 14.
On the other side, Martins Giese was the only stand-out player, as he dropped 15 points and grabbed 7 rebounds.
LIEPAJA - A battle of two winless teams made sure somebody rose from the bottom of the table, and Betsafe/Liepaja made sure they used the chance. The Latvians took a 75-65 victory against visiting Tsmoki-Minsk.
While the start of the game wasn't high-scoring, the Latvians seemed eager to put an end to their losing streak from the early stages, as they ran ahead by nine points in the first quarter. Leading 16-7, it was apparent their defense was excelling.
However, it wasn't as one-sided of a game, as the hosts would have hoped. Tsmoki-Minsk were quick to cut the deficit in half and were breathing right down their opponents' backs just a couple minutes later. The two teams entered the halftime break with 5 points between them.
Liepaja shot ahead quickly, as an 8-2 start of the half put them up by double-digits. The lead just grew and before the final quarter, it was already a 15-point margin on the table.
Tsmoki had several attempts of a run, but were instantly blocked, as Betsafe/Liepaja ended up winning by a safe 10 points.
Toms Leimanis was the leading scorer for the winners, as he put up 20 points, 5 assists and 4 steals. Kyle Benjamin added 14 points to the tally, while Karlis Lasmanis ended up with 13.
Yauheni Beliankou was once again a leading player for Tsmoki, as he put up 18 points and 7 rebounds. Andrei Stabrouski was also scoring, as he posted 12 points, despite attempting a whopping 14 shots.
PARNU - It was Siauliai's second victory in two days, as they completed their Estonian roadtrip with an 87-61 win against Port of Parnu.
Siauliai had the upper hand from the early stages of the game, landing a ten-point margin just four minutes in. The margin dipped to 8 before the quarter ended, but the Lithuanians were still very much in control.
The margin hovered around 10 points for the lion's share of the second quarter, but it was clear that Siauliai were the better side.
The breaking point of the game was the latter part of the third quarter, when a 6-point margin for Siauliai turned into a 17-point spread. Parnu were unable to recover, and it ended up being a big, 87-61 win for the visitors.
Akeem Wright was the go-to guy for Siauliai, as he ended the night with 17 points. Laurynas Birutis added 15 points and 7 rebounds, while Evaldas Saulys ended up with 14 points. Arminas Urbutis and Donatas Sabeckis finished the game with a dozen points in their respective accounts.
Siim Markus Post was the top-scorer with 17 points, while Timo Eichfuss added 11 points to the tally. Sten Saaremael ended the game with 10 points.
VALMIERA - A record-breaking performance from his team allowed Gediminas Petrauskas' first game in charge of Pieno zvaigzdes to be a complete success, as the Lithuanians defeated Valmiera/ORDO 114-54. This was the biggest winning margin of the season.
It was quite obvious early on that the game would spiral out of control and turn into a blow-out, as the visitors set themselves up with a 15-point advantage just ten minutes into the game.
Starting the second quarter with an 11-0 run allowed Pieno zvaigzdes to establish an insurmountable lead not even near the halfway mark. They ended up leading by a 27-point advantage, more than doubling their opponents' scoring numbers.
The second half was nothing more than a formality, but the visiting side never seemed to take their foot off the pedal and dominated all the way through until the very end, snatching a record 60-point win.
Tomas Lekunas and Ignas Fiodorovas led Pieno zvaigzdes with 21 points each, while Lekunas also added 10 rebounds to the total. Sarunas Valunta added 12 points in just 13 minutes, knocking down 4-of-5 three-pointers. Veteran Steponas Babrauskas and Vyacheslav Bobrov added 10 points apiece, while the trio of Martynas Varnas, Arturs Ausejs and Julius Kazakauskas all finished with 9 points.
For Valmiera/ORDO, it was Eduards Hazners with a team-high 15-point performace, while Ojars Berzins added 11 points.
JURMALA - The hosting city of Jurmala had another reason to celebrate, as their basketball club reached their fifth consecutive victory, defeating Tsmoki-Minsk 70-56 after a terrific fourth quarter.
The visitors had the upper hand in the first quarter, actually leading for the greater part of the opening segment. They opened up the quarter with a 10-2 run and were up by six after ten minutes of play.
Tsmoki retained composure and kept their noses ahead for the remainder of the half and held a 34-26 lead at the break.
Another ten minutes in, the Belorussians seemed to have paved the way to their first victory and a nine point advantage with just a quarter to go did reassure them. However, things began to quickly turn around, as Jurmala started the quarter off with a 12-0 run, that finally put them in the driver's seat. They closed the quarter strong, and with a 32-9 period, won by a safe margin.
Harlds Karlis was the top scorer for Jurmala with 13 points, while Ivars Zvigurs and Edgars Jeromanovs added another 11 points each.
Yauheni Beliankou was the only stand-out player for Tsmoki, as he added 22 points to his team's tally.
RAPLA - A packed arena of Rapla fans had the chance to witness a great match-up between their home town AVIS Utilitas Rapla and visiting Siauliai, as the guest managed to come out on top 73-83.
The Sadolin Sports Hall was packed more than usual, as the home side Rapla handed out free tickets to first to third grade students, so they could surprise their parents for Father's day. An act of kindness that is sure to win over some young hearts of basketball fans and motivate the players all at once.
However, despite the support of nearly 700 fans, Rapla didn't manage to earn a lead in this game, as the visiting Siauliai led end to end after starting the game with an 8-0 run.
However, the game never lost it's excitement, as AVIS Utilitas Rapla kept on breathing down the Lithuanians' backs. They were down by four after the first quarter, and while the margin doubled before the end of the first half, the deficit never got out of hand.
At the start of the final quarter, the Estonians had managed to cut the deficit back to just 4 points, but a final spurt put Siauliai in a safe spot.
Laurynas Birutis was by far the top player in the game, as the 20-year-old dominated inside the paint and tallied 22 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks for a total of 32 ranking points. Omar Prewitt and Evaldas Saulys chipped in with 15 apiece, while Donatas Sabeckis finished the game with 11 points and 8 assists. Vytautas Sarakauskas filled up the stat-sheet with 10 points and 8 rebounds in under 20 minutes.
Sven Kaldre had a team-high 16 points, as Jaren Sina added 15. Indrek Kajupank was also in double-digits, as he ended the game with 11 points, while Nolan Cressler had a solid all-around performance, accounting for 10 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists.
TALLINN - It was a great victory for visiting Ogre, as they defeated home team Tallinna Kalev/TLU 99-76, marking their third win in five games.
While the start of the match allowed us to dream about more excitement in the game, Ogre ran off right before the first quarter ended. They put up a big run in the final two minutes of the game and enjoyed a double-digit lead already in the first quarter.
The margin grew rapidly, reaching 21 points at the break. After it, Ogre seemed to have taken off their foot from the gas pedal. They coasted to the finish line, fully in control and with over 20 points separating them from their opponents.
Guntis Sipolins had a game-high 28 points for Ogre, as the duo of Gints Antrops and Rinalds Sirsnins added 19 points apiece, while Rihads Zebergs chipped in with a dozen. Lauris Mizis ended the game with 11 points.
For the losing side, Bamba Fall had another incredible game, marking it with an efficiency rating of 30 points. He had 18 points and 11 rebounds on perfect shooting. Kiur Akenparg added 16 points, while Bambale Osby ended up with 13.
We have just finished the first full month of the 2017-2018 season, so let’s take a moment to recap everything that’s taken place so far in and around the Baltic Basketball League with the BBL Monthly Review: November edition.
MVP. Steven Cook claimed the first individual award, as he led Tartu to a record of 4-1 with outstanding all-around play. Not only is he the league’s top scorer, but he’s also among the top rebounding players and in the top three when it comes to three-point shooting. The swingman averaged 20.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals, while his team sits amongst the leaders of Group B.
INTERNATIONAL BREAK. The national teams of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia all took part in the European qualifiers, with the latter two splitting the bill with 1 win and 1 loss, while the Lithuanians had a great break, bringing in two big wins.
Estonia had the largest delegation of BBL players, with Kristjan Kitsing and Janar Talts of Tartu, TTU’s Sten Olmre and AVIS Utilitas’ Indrek Kajupank all making performances. Of these four, Kristjan Kitsing was the most impactful, making his way to a 13.5 point average.
For the Latvian selection, Pieno Zvaigzdes’ Arturs Ausejs was the only BBL player to step foot on the court, but did not leave a greater mark.
RECORD. Viktors Iljins would have been a shoe-in candidate for the monthly MVP trophy if it wasn’t his team’s struggles as a group. However, he did put up an impressive individual performance in Valmiera/ORDO’s only win, setting the season record for most rebounds, while also scoring in bunches. The big man finished the game with an astonishing double-double of 19 points and 20 rebounds, as the Latvian side defeated Tallinna Kalev/TLU.
UNDEFEATED. A month in, there’s only one team in each group that hasn’t suffered a loss. In Group A, surprisingly, it is Jurmala, who have been shockingly good on both the national and international levels, sitting amongst the leaders in the Latvian league and enjoying a 4-0 record in BBL. In Group B, it’s Pieno zvaigzdes with the highest winning record, also at 4-0.
HOTSEAT. Apparently, a 4-0 record in BBL and a decent performance in the Lithuanian league didn't guarantee a coaching position for Pieno zvaigzdes’ Rimantas Grigas. He was recently sacked, as former Juventus’ coach Gediminas Petrauskas recently took the reigns.
TECHNICALS AND EJECTIONS. Probably the most hot-headed person in current-day Baltic basketball, Virginijus Seskus made his presence known in his team’s technical loss against AVIS Utilitas Rapla. Seskus received his second technical foul with the scored tied and just a couple minutes left in the game and withdrew his team with him.
WINLESS. Speaking of the teams that have yet to climb out of their losing slumps, Tsmoki-Minsk and Betsafe Liepaja come to mind. These two clubs have suffered 4 losses each with no wins and share the last spot in Group A.