You could make the case that Denis Krestinin is long overdue for an individual award, but something has stopped him every month up until now. The best player on one of the best teams in the league, Krestinin has finally notched his first Triobet BBL Player of the Month award for the month of January.
The Triobet BBL regular season has come to a close and all 16 teams participating in the next round are already known. We also know the best players in each of the main statistical categories.
It was our final week of the regular season and with teams battling for the highest seed, it was still full of uncertainty. Let‘s look back at what happened with the traditional Triobet BBL Weekly Review, already looking at its’ 15th volume.
Just like the Triobet BBL, most of European Competitions are already heading to the knock-out stages. Let’s review what’s been happening in other European competitions this week where some of our clubs are participating.
It was a beautiful victory for Jurmala/Fenikss this Thursday, as they got ahead with a last second and-one tip-in shot. The author of that shot, and the game-winning free-throw, was fittingly no other than our newest Triobet BBL Weekly MVP Viktors Iljins.
Nearly five months of exciting basketball have finally brought us the stage where it matters most – the Triobet BBL Play-offs. Twelve clubs from the regular season will advance and will be joined by three Estonian and one Lithuanian club, all of whom have been knocked out of other European competitions.
The Play-offs will pair the 1st seed with the 16th, the 2nd with the 15th, etc. and the games will be played in a home-away format. The first leg of the Eight-Finals will be played on the 6-9th of February, while the second leg will be carried out after a week's break, on the 21-23rd of February.
The team with the higher ranking after the Triobet BBL Regular season (so, excluding University of Tartu, Vytautas, Kalev/Cramo and TLU Kalev) will play the second game at home.
This year, we are guaranteed to have a new Triobet BBL Champion, as none of the former champions will be among the 16 remaining teams.
RIGA – Barons kvartals took the second seed in final regular season standings with an 80-73 win against Barsy in the final game before the Play-offs. Only Pieno Zvaigzdes had a better record, as Barons now stand at 10-2.
The first quarter was not an indication of good things to come for Barsy, as the Latvian side got bucket after bucket in, thus running off to an early double-digit advantage. Just ten minutes in, they were already up by 15 points.
The Kazakhs didn't seem to be finished though, and they slowly chipped at the lead, cutting it to 7 before the break. While that margin doubled in the third quarter, it was still not over.
As soon as the fourth quarter started, a 13-0 Barsy run shocked the visitors and cut the gap to just one point. However, the visitors couldn't manage to overtake Barons, and were left behind by a couple shots.
While a loss would have signaled an end of the road for Barsy in normal circumstances, due to not showing up for their final game, Tarvas/Palmse Metall were eliminated from the Play-offs by a decision of the Triobet BBL Board. That means Barsy are next in line to take the final spot and will face TU/Rock in the first round of the Play-offs.
Barons kvartals, on the other hand, will face Jurmala/Fenikss.
OGRE – A one-man army is just not strong enough, no matter how strong the man might be – TTU and Joonas Jarvelainen are a great example of that. Despite a monstrous performance from the 26-year-old, Ogre Kumho/Tyre rose victorious 93-97 with some heavy scoring from all over the roster.
The high-scoring affair went one way, then the other, swinging back and forth all game long. The first quarter, despite starting slowly for the home side, ended up being all about them.
A 5 deficit quickly turned into a four-point lead with three treys in just 40 seconds for Ogre, and that propelled them forward. After making a ton of free-throws, they were up by 9 after the opening ten minutes.
The second quarter was the exact opposite – TTU took the bull by the horns and ran ahead. Starting a quarter 17-3 is usually an indication of good things to come, and a 6-point lead was definitely a good thing for the Estonians.
Nevertheless, Ogre/Kumho Tyre had no intention of letting their arms down, and four consecutive three pointers helped them establish a nice 10-point lead near the end of the fourth quarter.
TTU clawed themselves back into the game mostly due to Jarvelainen’s 13-point quarter. Nevertheless, despite getting close, they just couldn’t tip the scales and ended up falling just short of victory.
Ogre/Kumho Tyre had scoring from all over the roster, as seven players reached double-digit scoring. Karlis Apsitis, who made most of his points at the charity stripe, led the way with 18 points. Lauris Mizis added 16 points and 7 boards, while Kristaps Plavnieks ended the night with 15 points and 8 assists. Gints Antrops finished with 14 points in his tally, Marcis Vitols had 12, while Rihards Zebergs and Guntis Sipolins ended up scoring 11 and 10, respectively.
Joonas Jarvelainen was the highlight of the night, as he had a dominant performance, putting up an enormous double-double. He had 33 points, 13 rebounds with 4 assists and 3 steals, lining up for an efficiency rating of 42. But even that sort of show was not enough for a TTU victory.
Sten Olmre was also solid, as he chipped in with 16 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals, while Ivalo Pajumets added 13 points to the tally. Rain Markus Koort ended the night with 12 in his account.
JURMALA – One rebound was all that got between Nevezis and a victory tonight, as they fell after Jurmala/Fenikss’ hustle provided them with a tough tip-in, that turned into an and-one, helping the home side walk out victorious 72-71.
Nevezis had a great start to the show and didn’t wait long to drive up the points, rushing out ahead 10-3. However, a 11-4 run followed from the home side that saw the game level. Right before the quarter ended Jermaine Love pulled up for three to give the Lithuanians an advantage.
The visitors slowly made strides closing in on a double-digit lead, yet they never got there, as Jurmala finished out the half with a 6-0 run to keep the gap at three points.
There was another attempt at a run for Nevezis in the third quarter, but it was shut down without much luck. And once the final quarter started, it was now Jurmala/Fenikss making stops and scoring at will, as a 9-0 stretch turned the table around.
With just a minute remaining, Love once again knocked down a three to tie the game up, and followed it up a possession later. Things were still all tied up with 23 seconds on the clock, but without hesitation, he beat his defender one on one to give Nevezis the edge. Jurmala/Fenikss had 18 seconds to respond and in a miraculous bustle under the basket, they managed to get an and-one to fall and stole a thrilling victory.
Viktors Iljins had the green light to fire away and he used it well, scoring 27 points and tearing down 12 rebounds. Edmunds Elksnis added 13 points to the tally and was the only other Jurmala player in double-digits.
For Nevezis, Toni Prostran had a great game, swishing and dishing for 15 points and 9 assists. The trio of Jermaine Love, Vaidotas Volkus and Karolis Petrukonis all had 10 points with the latter also grabbing 9 rebounds.
PASVALYS – It was a big comeback effort, but just not carried out all the way through for Valmiera/ORDO, as they succumed to Pieno Zvaigzdes. The Latvians were unable to prolong their run and fell in hostile territory 71-77 on the last day of the Triobet BBL regular season.
The victory pushes Pieno Zvaigzdes to six consecutive win and ensures the best record in the league with 11 out of 12 wins. Valmiera/ORDO remains in second place in Group B and will finish either as the second or third seed out of the regular season.
The Lithuanian side was the one to jump ahead first, as they played a terrific first quarter, opening it with an 11-2 start. They allowed just two field goals in each half of the quarter and were up by double-digits already, 20-9.
Things didn’t get much better in the second period for Valmiera/ORDO, as Pieno Zvaigzdes slowly advanced their lines. The lead reached a game-high 18 points with just a minute remaining in the first half of the game. Nevertheless, the visitors managed to reduce the margin to 13 before the quarter ended.
Valmiera/ORDO turned up the heat in the second half, as a 9-0 run sparked hope for a comeback. An that hope was still alive come fourth quarter, as they were down by just 4 points.
Nevertheless, Pieno Zvaigzdes figured things out in the final fourth and held on to a three possession lead for most of the quarter, with the margin jumping in and out of double-digits.
Egidijus Dimsa was the top scorer for the victors, as he scored 16 points. Evaldas Zabas and Steponas Babrauskas were solid with 11 points apiece, while Andriy Agafonov ended the game with 10. Osvaldas Olisevicius had a good game all-around and tallied 8 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists.
On the other end, it was Arturs Berzins leading the way with 17 points and 9 boards. Damier Pitts also flirted with a double-double of 14 points and 9 assists, while also grabbing 4 rebounds. Lauris Blaus chipped in with 12 points to be the third player in double-digit scoring.