TALLINN - TTU showed no mercy to visiting Valmiera/ORDO, as they graciously glided to a 90-69 victory at home, marking their first win of the season.
TTU shocked everybody with a 19-2 start to the quarter. Perhaps surprised by the success they had, the Estonians couldn't continue building on that lead and fell back. Still, after a quarter it was a small lead for them.
They made sure the story wouldn't repeat itself in the second period, as the pushed the margin back to double-digits and enjoyed a 16-point advantage at halftime.
Valmiera took small steps in getting back into the game but were abruptly pushed back in the final fourth, as TTU concluded a dominant win with another 10 minutes of solid basketball.
Oliver Metsalu was the game's highest scorer with 20 points, while Toomas Raadik provided a performance no less spectacular - 19 points and 13 rebounds. Sander Viilup had 13 points, while Tonis Peil ended up with 12.
Viktors Iljins was the best player for the Valmiera side with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Janis Kaufmanis added 17 points to the tally.
PASVALYS - It was a hard fought battle end to end, but Pieno zvaigzdes managed to come out on top in their matchup against TLU Kalev, raking in the 77-71 victory.
The matchup was a very close one, end to end with the lead changing hands 10 times and the game being tied another 11 times - the farthest distance between the two teams was 7 points at the start of the game, when Pieno zvaigzdes jumped ahead 12-5 midway through the first period.
From then on, it was nip-and-tuck, with neither side leaving any room for the other. The Lithuanians managed to keep their heads out of the water and 20 minutes in, it was a 4 point advantage for them.
By the time the fourth quarter started, the game was all square - 61-61. The scales remained level for most of the final quarter and with less than a minute remaining it was still a level ball game. However, Arturs Ausejs nailed a game-clinching three-pointer with a foul which was followed by a turnover in play by the Estonians.
A great game, a dramatic finish and a victory for the home side.
It was an all-around performance for Pieno zvaigzdes, as everybody on the team made a mark scoring. Leading the scoring ranks for the Lithuanian side was Julius Kazakauskas with 14 points, as Arturs Ausejs chipped in 13. Nikita Balashov closed out the trio of players in double-digits with 11 points and 10 rebounds to his name.
For Tallinna Kalev/TLU, Dorde Dzeletovic was the leading scorer with 21 points to his name. Kristo Saage and Janis Vahter dded respectively 11 and 10 points, whereas Bamba Fall was close to a double-double with 8 points and 12 rebounds.
PRIENAI - Despite struggles in the local front, Vytautas had no problems at all coping with Tsmoki-Minsk in their BBL face-off. The Lithuanians jumped ahead early and coasted all the way through, leading to a 91-56 victory. This was Tsmoki's second loss in two days.
Vytautas made a statement that their fortunes this season are about to change, as they opened up the game with a 15-2 run in the first 4 minutes. They retained control of the double-digit lead before the first quarter ended and put the game to bed in the second one.
11 points separated the teams early in the second quarter, but a solo performance from Edvinas Seskus, who scored 9 points in 90 seconds, quickly left Tsmoki in the dust. Vytautas finished the half strong and were in complete control of the game.
The margin just continued expanding and reached 30 before the final quarter even began. There was no sense of complacency from Vytautas, though, as their dominance brought a 35-point win.
Martynas Linkevicius was the most efficient player in the game, as he picked up 19 points and 10 rebounds. Eigirdas Zukauskas added 15 points to the tally, while Edvinas Seskus finished the game with 14.
Two players entered double-digit scoring for the Belorussian side, with Yauheni Beliankou leading the way with 15. Roman Rubinshteyn ended the game with 10 points in his account.
JURMALA - Nothing could get in the way of Jurmala, who paved the way to victory with terrific three-point shooting against Betsafe/Liepaja, taking an 82-64 win to start their campaign.
It was pretty clear that the game wouldn't be too close quite early, as Jurmala took the reigns right from the start. After a 10-4 start, they finished the quarter even stronger and got the lead up to double digits just one period in: 20-10.
The margin grew to 18 in the middle of the second quarter, but the visitors managed to cut into it a bit and entered the halftime break with the same 10 points between the two clubs.
Betsafe/Liepaja made an attempt at a comeback and managed to cut the deficit to just five, but Jurmala immediately responded with a nice run of their own, comfortably getting to the finish line.
Denis Krestinin and Haralds Karlis had 14 points apiece for Jurmala, while Ervins Jonats accompanied them with 13 points in his tally. Edgars Jeromanovs contributed 11 to the cause.
On the other end, Roman Grushcenko picked up game-high 22 points, while Roberts Krastins chipped in with 14. Toms Leimanis ended the game with 11 points and 8 assists.
TARTU - University of Tartu proved once again that a game in their home court is no easy task. The Estonians managed to hold back the LBL leaders Ogre, putting their noses in front in the 70-64 win.
The Estonians shot away right after the headcount, running to a 10-3 lead not even halfway through the first quarter and retained the lead throughout the remaining half hour of basketball.
Nevertheless, the lead never seemed to be big enough to just cruise towards the end. At halftime, it was a ten-point game and it was nowhere near being a done deal. The Latvians got as close as a 6-point margin late in the third quarter, but that was as far as they went. Steven Cook drained a couple more shots and put Tartu out of harms way.
Steven Cook was an unstoppable force on the offensive end, tallying 28 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists for the performance of the day with 32 ranking points. He didn't receive much help from the rest of his team in the scoring department, as his sidekicks were Carl Engstrom and Hendrik Eelmae, who contributed respectively 13 and 10 points, with another 8 rebounds apiece.
For Ogre, Janis Antrops was the lone player to reach double-digit scoring with 15 in his account.
RAPLA - An exciting and high-scoring affair was carried out in Estonia, as the derby between AVIS Utilitas Rapla and Port of Parnu ended in an 88-94 victory for the visitors.
It went back and forth for most of the game, and neither side could feel really comfortable in their situation, with opponents pressing right from behind. Although after ten minutes of basketball, it was just a two-point advantage for the visitors, they managed to bring it up to 11 as the second quarter winded down.
Nevertheless, the Rapla did not let their hands down and after a 14-1 run were back within reaching distance. The hosts actually managed to tip the scales their way early in the final quarter, but not for long - several three-point plays later, Port of Parnu looked in control with seven points to spare. They finished the quarter with an array of free-throws and ended up on top.
The lion's share of the scoring came from the starting five for Parnu, as the bench was responsible for merely 12 points. Saimon Sutt led the way there with 23 points and five steals, as Mikhel Kirves added another 21. Karl Johan Lips put in a confident performance of 17 points and 8 boards, as Timo Eichfuss contributed 12 points.
Nolan Cressler had a great game off the bench for Rapla, as he dropped 21 points, 7 assists and also picked up 6 rebounds. Devonte Upson added 17 points and 7 rebounds, while Indrek Kajupank ended the game with 12.
SIAULIAI - A debut went wrong on the opening day of the season for Tsmoki, as the Minsk side fell at the hands of Siauliai by a margin of 16 points, 94-78, in their first ever BBL game.
The hosts weren't very welcoming towards their guests and it was apparent right from the start of the game, as they raced off to a 14-3 start, leaving Tsmoki far behind in the dust.
A 7-0 return run helped the Belorussians get back into the game for a minute, but Siauliai decided to put an end to it in the second quarter. A great offensive performance allowed Siauliai to score 29 points in a ten-minute frame and enhance their lead to 19.
Tsmoki managed to cut into the margin a little bit, but it didn't change the grim overall outlook, as it was a wide double-digit margin at the final buzzer.
20-year-old Laurynas Birutis was an exciting force under the boards and highlighted the boxscore with game-high 25 points and 9 rebounds. Nicholas Zeisloft added 14 points to the tally, while Omar Prewitt and Vytautas Sarakauskas contributed another 13 each.
On the other side it was Yauheni Beliankou standing out with 19 points, while another 18 points came from Roman Rubinshteyn.
The 2017/2018 Baltic Basketball League season is just about ready to tip off! Two groups of seven - 14 teams in total - will battle for the crown and represent five countries.
PASVALYS – Vytautas lifted the Triobet BBL Champions trophy after dominating throughout the entire second leg of the Finals series. They came out on top by a wide margin, winning 89-74 against the home side Pieno Zvaigzdes and more than making up for the first-leg loss.
Having won the first game by just three points, Pieno Zvaigzdes were not in a position where they could feel complacent and soon enough Tomas Delininkaitis wiped that away with a three-pointer to open up the game. A number of easy baskets followed and Vytautas found themselves up 17-2.
While the home side managed to regain some composure before the end of the quarter, the duo of Tomas Delininkaitis and Regimantas Miniotas, who combined for 18 points, had Vytautas in front 22-11.
Pasvalys struggled to open up the second quarter successfully, as the margin between the two clubs grew to 16. However, as the quarter reached its’ halfway mark, Pieno Zvaigzdes managed to turn up the intensity, bringing the game back within single digits.
Pasvalys was all fired up entering the second half, as they quickly chopped up the deficit and made it just a one possession game. Nevertheless, Vytautas responded with a 20-1 run and pulled back ahead.
A couple of threes from the home side gave them a glimmer of hope, but time was running out and the lead seemed too great to overcome. Vytautas finished out the game strong and went home victorious.
After doing half the work in Tallinn, University of Tartu finished the job at home, holding back Kalev/Cramo to just a one point win 67-68. This result was enough for Tartu to secure the third spot in the 2016/2017 Triobet BBL season.
University of Tartu had all the right cards entering the game – they already had a 12-point margin before the game and the backing of a loud home crowd to boost.
It was a battle between two equally matched sides and that was apparent from the opening minutes. While the hosts jumped ahead by a few initially, Kalev/Cramo responded with a 10-0 run and managed to reach a slim advantage after the first ten minutes.
Kalev/Cramo were up by five points early in the second quarter, but three consecutive three-pointers allowed the home side to get back ahead by four points. The two Estonian clubs went back and forth for the remainder of the game, and a close margin was clearly in Tartu’s favor.
The home team gained a five point advantage with just a couple of minutes to go and it looked all said and done, taking the first game into consideration. All Kalev/Cramo had left to fight for was victory that didn’t mean too much in the bigger picture.
University of Tartu couldn’t convert on numerous free-throw attempts and that gave Kalev/Cramo the keys to a one-point victory. Nevertheless, the Tartu players were the happier ones leaving the court.
Kalev/Cramo head coach Alar Varrak: "I can't say the series was done with the first game. I definitely believe we had our chances tonight, but even if we got the game under control for a bit, Tartu always found a way to come back. Of course I can't be happy with the result - I believed that this season, we could take the Triobet BBL gold medal, so anything below that is certainly not what I would have wanted. But tonight, the bronze went to Tartu. Congratulations to the winners!"
University of Tartu head coach Gert Kullamäe: "A classic second half in the series. We tried to keep the score low tonight, knowing well we had the +12 base, but also that if we let the opponents loose, that doesn't mean too much. I'm happy we succeeded in that category, and of course that we won the bronze. Even though it's a slight step down from last season, a medal is a medal. The only slight prick of tonight is that we didn't win the game, there were some definite issues in the last few minutes, but we won the series and that's what matters tonight."