VALMIERA – The game in Valmiera was a little bit like a roller-coaster ride, as the margin went up and down, back and forth. However, it was the home side Valmiera/ORDO ultimately taking the 87-81 victory against AVIS Rapla and advancing to the Quarterfinals with a combined 19-point advantage.
It was a nip-and-tuck affair from the earliest stages in the game, as the lead changed hands six times in the first five minutes alone. The first tangible advantage Valmiera reached was six points but it was immediately rebuffed with three consecutive successful possessions by Rapla.
There was no separation in the first quarter, but it seemed that AVIS Rapla had the upper hand at the start of the second one, as they got off to an 8-0 start. That lead didn’t stand long though, as the Latvians responded with a 14-0 run to finish the quarter and go up by double digits.
The roller-coaster continued after the break, and it was now Rapla on the rise, as they got back into the game, bringing the deficit to just one point. With the 13-point deficit back from the first leg of the series, it was still a very steep hill to climb and Valmiera put any hopes and chances to bed with a terrific fourth quarter, going to win the game 87-81.
Martins Laksa had a great game for the winning side, as he dropped 23 points and chipped in with 6 boards and 4 assists. Despite his turnover problems, Damier Pitts was also a vital performer today, scoring 15 points and dropping 7 dimes. Arturs Berzins added 12 points, while Ervins Jonats flirted with a double-double, scoring 11 and raking in 9 rebounds. Lauris Blaus ended the game with 10.
As for AVIS Rapla, Thomas van der Mars gave it his all and was terrific, tallying 26 points and 12 rebounds to end his amazing Triobet BBL campaign. Indrek Kajupank added 14 points, while Martin Paasoja and Rasham Suarez were responsible for 12 and 11 points, respectively. The latter also added 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.
The first week of the Triobet BBL Playoffs is already in the books and we’ve been through a lot of exciting basketball and witnessed three impressive season debuts. Let’s recap it all with the traditional Triobet BBL Weekly Review, already at its’ 16th volume.
MVP. After joining Barons kvartals just a couple of weeks ago, Davis Rozitis didn’t need too much time to get things going. With 13 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 blocks and 2 steals, he’s been named the Triobet BBL Player of the Week.
QUARTERFINALIST. University of Tartu became the first quarterfinalist after a back-to-back beating of Barsy. They defeated the Kazakhs 83-49 on Monday and finished the series off on Tuesday with a 74-45 victory. The Estonians will face either Nevezis or Jekabpils in the next round.
MONTHLY MVP. Denis Krestinin was already long overdue an individual award and he finally notched an award for the month of January, after averaging 13.8 points and 11.8 rebounds, as Barons kvartals took four victories.
INDIVIDUAL AWARDS. Once the regular season ended, the Triobet BBL handed out individual awards to the league leaders of the main statistical categories. Barsy’s Trevin Parks was handed the scoring trophy, Thomas van der Mars was unbeatable in the rebounding category, while Toni Prostran was in a league of his own setting his teammates up with easy shots.
DEBUTS. It was a great start for most of the clubs that joined us from other European competitions, with TLU Kalev being the lone exception. The Estonians lost 75-92 to the lower seeded Liepaja/Triobet and will be looking at an uphill battle in the second leg. University of Tartu, as we mentioned, are already in the Quarterfinals, while Vytautas (+45) and Kalev/Cramo (+38) have a golden opportunity to join them.
UPSET. Ogre/Kumho Tyre and their home ground remains an unsolvable mystery for Pieno Zvaigzdes. The Latvian club has beaten the highest-seeded team from the regular season 83-75, and now both of Pasvalys‘ losses have been handed to them in Ogre.
COMEBACK. While it was an incomplete comeback, Jekabpils did all they could to keep the series against Nevezis interesting. Down 18 at halftime, the Latvians fought back and got themselves back into the game. Despite losing 74-78, they still have a chance in the second leg, needing to win by 5 points to qualify for the next round.
Davis Rozitis put up an MVP-worthy performance in Barons kvartals’ Eight-Finals win against Jurmala/Fenikss. The Latvian put up a terrific showcase leaving a mark on both ends of the court and has been named the Triobet BBL Player of the Week.
Rozitis was exceptionally efficient, missing just one shot for a 13-point outing. However, scoring wasn’t his main highlight in the game – he also tore down 11 rebounds, dished out 4 assists, tied the season record by swatting away 5 of his opponents’ shots and also recorded 2 steals. The impressive all-around performance allowed him to amass 33 ranking points.
Barons were thoroughly dominant in the game and coasted to an easy, 85-54, victory, practically guaranteeing a spot in the Quarterfinals.
Rozitis, who joined Barons from Liepaja/Triobet recently, has been great all season long, averaging 11.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and, thanks to his latest performance, 1.2 blocks. His efficiency has increased dramatically after joining Barons, as he’s put up 13.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.5 blocks in the two games in the Latvian capital’s side.
TALLINN – Quite a performance to open up their Triobet BBL campaign for Kalev/Cramo, as they dominate throughout the whole game against TTU and rise up for a 101-63 away victory.
TTU got their first, and only, lead after a 6-0 run gave them a one-point edge over the visitors two minutes into the game. However, from that moment on it was all Kalev/Cramo. With dominant play from all over the roster, the visitors doubled-up TTU, leading 30-15 after ten minutes.
The situation continued getting worse and worse for the hosts, as Kalev/Cramo didn‘t stop beating on their countrymen. While it was already a 25-point spread at halftime, a bonanza of three-pointers at the start of the third period pushed the margin to 39 in just three minutes.
That kind of offense is not easily stopped and TTU definitely didn’t have the right tools to do that. An easy win now sees them head back home for the second leg of the series.
Rain Veideman was the leading scorer for Kalev/Cramo, as he dropped 21 points. Sten-Timmu Sokk added 15 points to the tally, while Erik Keedus had 13 points and 8 boards. Mickell Gladness was also solid with 12 points and 8 rebounds.
Nikola Vujovic stood out as the best player for TTU, as he had a solid double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Sten Olmre and Rain Markus Koort ended the game with 10 points each.
JURMALA – The first leg of the Eight-Finals series between Barons kvartals and Jurmala/Fenikss ended in a blow-out, as the visiting side tore down Jurmala‘s defense and took a huge 85-54 win. With 31 points to spare at home, the series looks all over even before the final game.
It took some time for the teams to shake off the rust, as they had trouble finding the basket early on. Jurmala/Fenikss were scoreless for six minutes and made their first field goal with less than three minutes remaining in the opening quarter. Barons managed to get ahead in the meantime, 14-9.
The visitors got out of their shell in the second quarter though, scoring high to reach a 20-point advantage.
Jurmala/Fenikss seemed to have brought some life into their game during the halftime talk, as they ran back with 9 consecutive points to cut the margin to 11. However, that run was short-lived, as Barons bombarded them from long range and pulled ahead by 25.
The margin reached a game-high 34 points in the fourth quarter, soon to be slightly decreased by a three-pointer. The game, and probably the series, had game over written all over it.
With only three substitutes on the bench, Barons relied on their starters heavily. And they delivered – Tyler Larson scored 18 points, while Davis Rozitis had an impressive all-around performance with 13 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 blocks. Davis Geks and Roberts Freimanis chipped in with another 13 points each, while Kristaps Mediss came off the bench to bang in 12 points.
No player managed to reach double-digits for Jurmala, and Jekabps Rozitis and Arturs Duselis were the highest scorers with 9 points apiece. Viktors Iljins and Davis Gutmanis added another 8 points each.
OGRE – Ogre/Kumho Tyre and their home ground remains an unsolvable mystery for Pieno Zvaigzdes. The Latvian club has beaten the highest-seeded team from the regular season 83-75, and now both of Pasvalys‘ losses have been handed to them in Ogre.
Despite having gone 11-1 in the regular season, nobody in Pasvalys was expecting an easy game against Ogre, as the two sides split the season series with a win at home each. Nevertheless, it‘s safe to say that Pieno Zvaigzdes were considered to be the favorites of this Eight-Final.
The way the first quarter unraveled let us know that this might be a classic in the making, as neither side had any breathing room – there were six lead changes in the first six minutes alone. However, the hosts managed to close out the quarter strong and enjoyed a four point advantage.
Pieno Zvaigzdes were quick to respond in the second period, as they immediately regained control of the lead. And while it was just a slim margin, the game took an eight-point turnaround for Pasvalys to go up four.
Things got more and more exciting as we were closing in on crunch time, and it was now Ogre taking the reins with a little help from multiple missed free-throws by Pasvalys.
Ogre ignited a 9-2 run to open up the final quarter and that got them an 11-point lead just two minutes in. The Latvians managed to keep hold of the slippery advantage until the very end, with Derrick Low’s free-throws bringing the deficit back to single-digits.
Rihards Zebergs was the top scorer for Ogre/Kumho Tyre with 17 points in his account, while Marcis Vitols had a 16-point night. Guntis Sipolins added 12 points in just ten minutes of action, while Karlis Apsitis finished the game with 11 points.
On the other side, it was the starting five doing the heavy lifting, as all five players entered double-digit scoring. Steponas Babrauskas had a team-high 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Andriy Agafonov added 11 points and 9 boards. Egidijus Dimsa had another 11 points. Both Evaldas Zabas, and Derrick Low scored 10 points, as the American also dished out 10 dimes.
JEKABPILS – An action-packed start to Wednesday basketball, as Jekabpils rose to a late comeback, but were ultimately denied victory by Nevezis. The 74-78 victory hands Nevezis a four-point advantage in the return game.
Nevezis didn‘t wait around and rocketed ahead in the first quarter. After neck-to-neck opening five minutes, the Lithuanians closed down the defense and finished the quarter with a 14-0 run, giving the team a 16-point advantage right out of the gates.
Things weren‘t looking up for Jekabpils, and it was only Jurijs Aleksejevs who managed to really make a difference for Latvian side in the first half, as he scored 15 of the 25 points. Nevertheless, the margin still rose and the two sides entered halftime with 18 points between them.
A spurt early in the second half allowed Jekabpils to substantially reduce the deficit, but they were still facing an uphill battle with a double-digit spread on the table entering the final quarter.
Nevertheless, the game was far from over, as the Latvians rose like a phoenix and hurried to tie the game up. While Nevezis managed to regain composure, they were now up by just a couple buckets, and that was good news for Jekabpils who scored the final basket to cut the deficit to just four before the second leg.
The fate of this series will be decided in two weeks, on the 22nd of February in Kedainiai.
Jurijs Aleksejevs cooled down in the second half, but was succeeded by Rinalds Sirsnins, as both players ended up scoring 20 points. Roberts Stumbris chipped in with 17, while Janis Antrops ended the game with 9 points to his name.
Jermaine Love was the top scorer for Nevezis with 17 points, while Vaidotas Volkus added another 15. Ivan Smiljanic ended the game scoring 11, while Ignas Vaitkus had 9. The league's best playmaker Toni Prostran had a great night sharing the ball, as he dished out game-high 9 assists and added 7 points to the totals.
TARTU – It‘s Quarterfinals moods in Tartu already, as University of Tartu just booked a ticket to the next round with yet another dominating win against Barsy. The Estonians kept their opponents on lockdown, and easily won 74-45.
Defense was the key for Tartu en route to their 29-point victory, as they allowed just 14 points in the first half, while scoring at will on the other end.
The Estonians ran off early and never looked back: a 15-point lead after the first quarter turned into a 32-point advantage at the halftime break.
Keeping in mind that University of Tartu put the first game to bed leading by 34 points, that was already a 66-point advantage for the Estonians with 20 minutes of basketball remaining.
Having said that, it was apparent that the end of the game would merely be a formality. While the margin didn't grow, Barsy couldn't manage to end the game full of pride, as they finished the game down 29 points.
Mandell Thomas and Dominykas Milka were the top players for the victorious side, as they contributed 17 and 15 points, respectively. Milka was also strong under the boards, as he tabbed 13 rebounds.
PRIENAI – A season debut that everyone would dream of – Vytautas opened up their Triobet BBL campaign with a high-scoring win against Port of Parnu. The Lithuanians enjoyed the night scoring and took a 100-55 home win.
While the game started off quite competitively, it wasn't much of a contest after the first half of the first quarter, as Vytautas shot ahead to advance into a double-digit lead territory.
The margin grew exponentially and come halftime, it was already a blow-out. With 25 points between the two sides, it seemed like a certainty that the game was already over.
Nevertheless, in a two-game series, the score matters, and Vytautas made sure Parnu had no way of causing an upset at home. They added another 15 points to their lead in the third quarter and capped it with another five points in the final fourth.
Two brothers faced off against each other today, the night before their father's - Vytautas' Head Coach Virgilijus Seskus - 50th birthday, and both were top scorers on their respective teams. The coach must have been pleased both with the way his team, and his sons played.
Domantas Seskus had 22 points for Vytautas, while Saulius Kulvietis was the Robin to his Batman with 18 points. Four more players were in double-digit scoring for the Lithuanians.
The younger brother, Edvinas Seskus, was also solid, leading his team with 17 points to his name. Saimon Sutt added another 14, as the two 21-year-olds accounted for the lion's share of the team's points.
RAPLA – A double-digit victory on a hostile turf put Valmiera/ORDO in pole position of their Eight-finals series against AVIS Rapla. Not only will they have home-court advantage, but will also enter the game with 13 points to spare after the 78-65 win.
Valmiera piled the pressure up right from the get-go, as they put up a double-digit advantage not even halfway into the first quarter. Unable to retaliate, the Estonians could not reduce the deficit before the second quarter.
From the on, it was a very close game, as the teams traded baskets left and right. Nevertheless, the margin still stood at nine after two quarters, despite being reduced to six multpile times throughout the frame.
There were similar sights in the second half as well – after closing in on their opponents, AVIS Rapla just couldn’t complete the comeback, and a 7-0 run put Valmiera back in a safe spot.
There was a large gap between the two clubs for the whole fourth quarter, but a couple of great plays allowed Valmiera to finish the quarter strong and bring a 13-point advantage back home ahead of the second leg of the series.