The Triobet BBL Player of the Week award was pretty obvious this time, as nobody could match up against Vitali Liutych’s historic performance. The Kalev/Cramo swingman set a new scoring record in the league and helped his team to a big win against Barons kvartals.
Liutych was a menace for the opposing defense and ignited a run after halftime, scoring 18 points in the third quarter alone. The Belorussian finished the game with an astonishing 47 points; all while shooting at a 76.5 % clip from the field and also converting on 17-of-20 free-throws (best result since 2006).
The Small Forward also tallied 8 rebounds, 3 steals and an impressive block for a total of an efficiency rating of 49, just two points short of Edgars Jeromanovs all-time best performance with 51 this season.
This was just Liutych’s second game in the Triobet BBL, but he’s already proven to be a reliable scorer, getting to the line at will and averaging 35.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals in the two games, after scoring 23 in the Eight-Finals game against TTU.
TALLINN – An incredible performance from Vitali Liutych and a third-quarter surge lit the way to victory for Kalev/Cramo, as they defeated their Quarterfinal opponents Barons kvartals. Despite getting off to a rough start, they ended up on top with a 19-point advantage before the second leg, 100-81.
Barons kvartals looked strong right out of the gates, as they held on to a slight advantage for most of the first period, seeing the lead rise to as many as 8 points late in the opening quarter. However, that lead was very short-lived, as the Estonians responded with a 14-2 run at the start of the second. By halftime, they had already pushed ahead, leading 46-44.
The third quarter was a solo show from Vitali Liutych, as he dropped 18 in the ten minute period alone, allowing Kalev/Cramo to jump ahead by 15.
The Latvians made a great sequence of plays amidst the fourth quarter which allowed them to cut into the margin slightly. Nevertheless, Kalev/Cramo responded well and before the final buzzer sounded, it was a wide margin between the two teams, 100-81.
Vitali Liutych ended up scoring 47 points in a game for the history books. It was the best scoring performance in Triobet BBL history, as he broke several records along the way. He also added 8 rebounds and 3 steals to the tally.
Branko Mirkovic was also solid with 13 points to his name, while Rain Veideman took care of the playmaking, scoring 11 points, dishing out 7 assists and tearing down 5 rebounds. Cedric Simmons came close to a double-double with 9 points and 11 rebounds.
For the other side Davis Geks was the top scorer with 22 points to his name. Kristaps Mediss and Denis Krestinin added 16 and 15 points, respectively, while Davis Rozitis ended the game with 11 points and 9 boards.
Barons kvartals Head Coach Martins Gulbis: "I am very proud of my guys who fought very well considering the fact that it was a very long and stressful day. We left Riga at 9:30 and traveled the whole day. It was a bit too much but it's not an excuse. For almost 30 minutes it was an even game but finally their leader Liutych made the day for them. We missed important shots and that was it. But I am sure that we will put up a good fight in Riga."
Kalev/Cramo Head Coach Alar Varrak: "I can't remember, if I've ever seen a game like this. The game ended in regulation but lasted two hours - it had literally everything and the crowd definitely had a lot to enjoy. They played, or should I say, were allowed to play very physically in the first half and we had a lot of trouble dealing with that. The key to our success was that we adapted to their style of play and in the second half they couldn't surprise us any more."
TARTU – Despite suffering a defeat today, University of Tartu kept their hopes of qualifying to the next round very much alive. The Estonians lost to Nevezis in thrilling fashion by just two points, 86-88 after a buzzer-beater from Jermaine Love, but the last minute surge gives them a decent starting point for the next game.
The first half of the game went tit for tat, with neither side managing to gain any momentum to take control. In the first ten minutes, University of Tartu had managed to jump ahead by six, but that margin was reduced to just two points before the quarter ended.
The second quarter was just as much Tanel Sokk against Vaidotas Volkus, as it was Tartu against Kedainiai. Sokk scored 10 points for the Estonian club, while Volkus responded with 8 of his own in the second period alone. Nevertheless, it was still just one point between the two clubs.
After the break, Nevezis seemed to be the better side by a slight margin, as they slowly built their lead up to 12 points. While it already seemed like a done deal, Tartu were not ready to give up just yet.
It turned into a thriller of the highest caliber in the final minutes, as Tartu reduced the double-digit deficit to just one point in a matter of two minutes. With 26 second remaining, the Estonians were down by two points and had the ball in their hands. A difficult shot tied the game up with just a couple seconds remaining, but Jermaine Love did it again – a buzzer-beater won them the game, 88-86.
The visiting side had scoring coming from all over the roster, as five platers reached double digits in scoring, while Toni Prostran was not quite there. He was very visible on the court, nevertheless. Prostran swished and dished for 8 points and 15 assists, providing his team plenty of easy looks.
As far as scoring goes, Karolis Petrukonis was the top player for Nevezis in this department, dropping 17 points, as Paulius Petrilevicius chipped in 16. Vaidotas Volkus added 15 to the tally, while Ivan Smiljanic ended up with 14. Jermaine Love didn’t miss a single shot and including the game-winner, had 13 points.
On the other side, Tanel Sokk was the top scorer with 19 points to his name. Mandell Thomas came off the bench to score 17, while Dominykas Milka and Janari Joesaar ended the game with 15 and 13 points, respectively.
Seeing how this game unfolded, we should be looking at a very exciting second leg of this series in Kedainiai next week.
Tartu Head Coach Gert Kullamäe: "I am really not happy with our defense today; offensively, there's not much to complain about. Some of our opponents really got through us today and we need to solve that issue before Tuesday for sure. To let the opponents score 88 on our home court - that's not like us."
Nevežis Head Coach Paulius Juodis: "We came in knowing this was going to be a very tough game. Tartu's leading in the Estonian championships at the moment, they're a talented team, and I knew they would put up a big fight. We were ready. The 2 points we won by don't mean much in the play-offs - the next game in Lithuania is bound to be just like this one. Can't be too confident."
LIEPAJA – Egidijus Dimsa came off the bench to lead the way for Pieno Zvaigzdes past Liepaja/Triobet. Neither team overcommitted on the defensive end and the fans enjoyed a high-paced game, which ended in a nine-point, 89-80, win for the Lithuanians.
For the most part of the game, the two sides went back and forth, neither side really gaining any ground. As soon as Pasvalys got ahead, Liepaja would pull them right back. The first instance of this happened already late in the first quarter, as Pieno Zvaigzdes had a six point advantage, but it was sliced in half after Arturs Ausejs three-pointer to end the quarter.
The Lithuanians managed to get ahead by nine in the second period, but once again, the Latvians responded well – three three-pointers before the end of the half made it a tie ballgame.
Pieno Zvaigzdes finally managed to advance their lines to a double-digit lead after a 10-0 run with a couple minutes remaining in the third quarter, but just like before, Liepaja/Triobet came back before we could say anything. The score after three quarters was still very close: 65-63.
The last run Pieno Zvaigzdes put up was the one Liepaja/Triobet couldn‘t counter, and the Lithuanians, led by 11 fourth-quarter points from Egidijus Dimsa, sailed to a 9-point victory.
Egidijus Dimsa enjoyed an outstanding game, scoring 28 points and ripping down 11 rebounds. The team‘s other big man, Andriy Agafonov, was also solid, providing 17 points and another 11 rebounds. Derrick Low and Steponas Babrauskas were the two other players to reach double-digit scoring: Low had 13 points, 6 assists and 4 steals, while Babrauskas ended the night with 10 points and seven boards.
For the losing side, Arturs Ausejs was the top scorer with 25 points. He received some massive help from Artjoms Butjankovs, who tallied 23 points. Malcolm Griffin was also great, as he was all over the place with 19 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals.
PRIENAI – A second-quarter surge put Vytautas in a great position to qualify for the Semifinals, as they flew past Valmiera/ORDO on their home ground, securing an 102-71 victory in the first leg of their Quarterfinal bout.
The first quarter gave us a glimpse of what the series could turn into, as the two sides traded blow for blow in the opening ten minutes. While Vytautas managed to gain a small advantage, advancing their lines for a four-point advantage.
However, the second quarter blew away any hopes of a thrilling finish. The Lithuanians ran off to a huge run in the second period allowing them to amass a priceless 22-point lead.
The margin just grew in the second half, as a 20-9 start to the second half pushed the game out of reach. Valmiera/ORDO could not get the engine rolling and ended up being shamefully beaten.
For the Lithuanian side, Vytenis Lipkevicius and Tadas Klimavicius were the two top scorers, as they had 20 points apiece. Saulius Kulvietis added another 15 points, while Regimantas Miniotas ended the game with 12.
On the other end, Martins Laksa and Arturs Berzins stood out, as they scored 18 and 17 points, respectively. Lauris Blaus contributed another 13 points.
The first round of the Triobet BBL Playoffs has already been completed and the number of remaining teams has been cut in half to just eight. Before we get going with the Quarterfinals, let’s take a look at what happened during the past week with the 17th volume of the Triobet BBL Weekly Review.
MVP. A victory and a Player of the Week performance for Jurijs Aleksejevs was not enough to keep Jekabpils in the race for the title. Aleksejevs missed just one shot, scoring 20 points and also added 12 rebounds, as the Latvian side defeated Nevezis 80-77.
SERIES-WINNER. Despite making a couple costly turnovers in the final quarter, Jermaine Love was the hero of the game, as he glided through the defense to score a series-winning lay-up with just a second on the clock. Although Nevezis lost 77-80, they had won the first leg by four and will now face University of Tartu in the Quarterfinals.
PAIRED. The four pairs of Quarterfinalists are clear, with three teams from Lithuania and Latvia each and two clubs from Estonia. Tartu will face off against Nevezis, Liepaja/Triobet will take on Pieno Zvaigzdes on one side of the Playoff tree. On the other side, Vytautas await Valmiera/ORDO, while Kalev/Cramo will test Barons kvartals.
COMEBACK. Going into the game with an eight-point deficit, many would have expected it to be tougher for Pieno Zvaigzdes to get back into the race, but they came up big against Ogre/Kumho Tyre, winning 97-64 and easily advancing to the next round.
RECORD. Regimantas Miniotas played his best game of the season, as he led Vytautas to a huge victory against Port of Parnu. The Lithuanian big man tore down 18 rebounds, thus tying the season record. He also dropped 12 points in the 89-54 win.
COMPLACENCY. Barons kvartals didn’t seem too motivated before their return leg of the Eight-Finals series against Jurmala/Fenikss, as they entered the game with a 31-point advantage. Jurmala/Fenikss thus managed to finish the season with a victory, despite being knocked out of the tournament.
Jurijs Aleksejevs had a magnificent night individually against Nevezis, as he led Jekabpils to a victory in the second leg of the series. Despite a Player of the Week performance to go with it, the victory was not as sweet as they had hoped for, as the Latvians were knocked out of the Play-offs.
Despite coming out on top 80-77 against Nevezis, Jekabpils were literally a second away from the Quarterfinals, as Jermaine Love glided through the defense for a last-second layup that made it +1 for the Lithuanians in the combined score of the series.
Aleksejevs proved to be a dominant force, missing just one shot in a 20-point night. The forward made both of his three-pointers and nailed 6-of-7 from closer in. He also added 12 rebounds to record his third double-double of the season.
He's been a true asset for Jekabpils all season long, leading the team both in scoring and rebounding with 14.8 and 8.7 averages, respectively.
You can see the shot that sent Jekabpils packing below:
TALLINN – While the outcome of the series was quite clear even before the second leg of the series, Kalev/Cramo made sure there was no complacency on their end. The Estonian powerhouse easily took another win against TTU, going up 92-72, and advanced to the next round of the Triobet BBL Playoffs.
Vitali Liutych had a terrific game, scoring 23 points and soaring to 7 rebounds to lead Kalev/Cramo to victory. Erik Keedus added 12 points to the tally, while Rain Veideman and Mark Tollefsen each contributed 11 points.
Three players scored 14 points apiece for TTU – Sander Saare, Toomas Raadik and Joonas Jarvelainen tied for the team‘s highest scorers. Nikola Vujovic added 13 to the tally, while Sten Olmre had 8. Only two other players managed to get on the scoring sheet for TTU.
RIGA – Despite an 80-82 loss today, Barons kvartals advanced to the Quarterfinals due to their prowess in the first leg of the series against Jurmala/Fenikss. The home side entered the game with a 31-point advantage and didn‘t seem too motivated to give it their best, resulting in a loss.
Barons were always the favorites of this match-up and they got a good start, advancing their lead to 8, ten minutes into the game. That put away any possible thoughts of a miraculous comeback to bed, and all Jurmala/Fenikss had left to fight for was honor.
And fight they did, chipping into the margin and making it a five-point game at the halftime break. The home side managed to get on a good run though and reached a game-high advantage of 12 points in the third quarter.
Nevertheless, Jurmala continued battling and were quickly getting back into the game with a great fourth quarter. Not only did they manage to put up a good fight, they ended up going ahead with numerous free-throws late in the game. A nice way to end the season with a victory.
Tyler Larson apparently had a green light to shoot, as he got 21 points on 17 field goal attempts. Davis Rozitis enjoyed a great night, as he tallied an impressive double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds, while also dishing out 4 blocks. Denis Krestinin ended the game with 12 points.
For Jurmala/Fenikss, Marcis Saulitis had a good day in the office, scoring 15 points, as the duo of Arturs Duselis and Edmunds Elksnis ended up with 14.
PASVALYS – Pieno Zvaigzdes showed no mercy for the only team that has beat them this season. Going into the game with an eight-point deficit, many would have expected it to be tougher for the Lithuanians, but they came up big against Ogre/Kumho Tyre, winning 97-64 to advance to the Quarterfinals.
Pieno Zvaigzdes took control of the game immediately, as the won the opening quarter 32-14, leaving the eight-point deficit from the first game a distant memory. The margin just grew, as Ogre were unable to do anything to stop their opponents.
The scoreboard showed a 48-25 lead for Pasvalys at halftime, meaning they already had a 15-point combined advantage. The final nails in the coffin were hammered in the third quarter, as the league‘s most prolific offense had another 30-point quarter, increasing the lead to an insurmountable 33 points.
The final quarter was merely a formality and the Lithuanians were happy to be advancing to the Quarterfinals, where they will face Liepaja/Triobet.
Evaldas Zabas was outstanding on the offensive end, scoring 20 points. Veteran Steponas Babrauskas added another 18 points, while Andriy Agafonov came off the bench to score 17. Osvaldas Olisevicius finished the game with 13 points.
Three players stood out for Ogre, with Kristaps Plavnieks and Rihards Zebergs scoring 13 points each. Guntis Sipolins ended the game with 12 points in his account.