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.
With just one game remaining in the regular season, injuries, illnesses and player departures have struck Tarvas/Palmse Metall and they will not be able to carry out the game against Jekabpils.
The game will be counted as a forfeit for Tarvas and therefore a technical win (20-0) awaits the Latvian club.
Due to not showing up for their final game, Tarvas have been eliminated from the Play-offs by a decision of the Triobet BBL Board.
LIEPAJA - What could have become the comeback story of the season was not meant to be. After recovering with two straight wins from a 0-8 start to the season, Barsy couldn't keep up the play and lost to Liepaja/Triobet by a wide margin, 87-50.
While they hung in there for the most of the first half, Barsy were immediately the ones chasing. The Latvian side got ahead by 4 points in the first quarter, leading 19-15, and pushed the margin up in the next ten minutes.
Halfway through the second quarter, it was still just a 4-point game, yet Liepaja/Triobet closed out the quarter well and advanced their lead to double-digit territory.
Barsy fell apart after the break, as they were being destroyed in the block, while getting nothing to fall themselves. The Liepaja side won the quarter 30-8 and put the game out of contention.
It was all settled already, but Liepaja/Triobet’s lead didn’t stop growing, as it reached a game-high 38 points in the final quarter.
Arturs Ausejs had a party in downtown tonight, knocking down 7-of-10 shots from beyond the arc, en route to a 25-point performance. Roberts Krastins added 13 points, while Lateef Mcmullan and Carl Montgomery chipped in with 10 apiece. The latter also tore down 13 rebounds for a double-double night.
Barsy were outhustled, as they were terribly beaten on the boards, losing this battle 53-21. They only got three assists throughout the game and the few bright spots were the play of Trevin Parks and Nikolay Bazhin. The two had 17 and 10 points, respectively.
Obviously, the main story of the week has to be Barsy Atyrau, as they‘ve really turned things around. However, there was more action in the league than just that, so let‘s take a look at it in our Triobet BBL Weekly Review: Volume 14.
CINDERELLA. While normally our first segment would be the Weekly MVP, Barsy deserves to be mentioned first this time. The Kazakhs had a 0-8 record going into the week, but managed to hold off a Parnu comeback and took their first victory, 96-92. Barsy didn‘t stop there though, as they surprised AVIS Rapla and enjoyed another close win, 86-84. More on that later. With two games to go, have we got a Cinderella story brewing here?
MVP. And here he is, our Player of the Week – Nikola Vujovic. The Serbian big man doubled his three-point tally in just a single night, shooting 3/3 from downtown, scored 19 points total, while also adding 13 rebounds and 4 assists. All these were season-highs for Vujovic, as he soared to an efficiency rating of 35 in the game against Borisfen.
BLANK. We might have a Cinderella story brewing in the Triobet BBL, but we certainly have a Sleeping Beauty. Only thing different is that this one never woke up. Borisfen has gone 0-3 this week, meaning their record is now pushed to 0-12 and they finish the tournament winless. Most of their games eneded up being blow-outs, as the Belorussian club lost each of them by an average of 30.5 points.
COMEBACK. The most exciting comeback of the week was certainly the one by Barsy in their 86-84 OT drama against Rapla. The Kazakhs were down by as many as 18 points early in the third quarter but managed to turn it around and squeak past regulation. They played solid basketball in the five added minutes, yet nearly blew it with some terrible mistakes in the end. Luckily for them, AVIS Rapla couldn‘t convert on the buzzer-beating three-pointer.
MVP RACE. With just a week remaining in the regular season, there are just a couple real candidates for the Most Valuable Player trophy. Naturally, Thomas van der Mars is one of them, as he averages 23.4 rankings points and leads the league in double doubles. He is averaging 17.5 points per game (4th in the league) and 11.9 rebounds (1st in the league). The other big man in the conversation is Denis Krestinin. Although he hasn’t won a monthly MVP award, he’s been piling up the numbers all season long, averaging 13.8 points (13th), 11.0 rebounds (2nd) and is just a fraction away in average efficiency with an average of 23.3.
TTU’s big man duo of Joonas Jarvelainen and Nikola Vujovic was firing with all cylinders as the Estonian side faced off against Borisfen, but it was Serbian’s efficiency that brought the win and the Triobet BBL Weekly MVP award.
The 23-year-old, standing at 210 centimeters, knocked down 3/3 shots from beyond the arc, doubling his season totals and finished with a season-high 19 points. He also contributed a season high in rebounds and assists, contributing 13 and 4, respectively. That led to another season best result – 35 efficiency points
Vujovic is now averaging 7.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists. On average, that gets him an efficiency of 10.9. Before this game, he shot three-pointers at just an 18.8% rate, now improving to 31.6%.
His team, TTU, have won three of their last four games and risen in the standings to the fourth position with a 5-6 record.
VALMIERA - Valmiera didn't have too much trouble handling the winless Borisfen, as they secured a comfortable win, while the Belorussians were defeated for the twelfth time in a row, 88-69.
The Latvians had a tougher time than expected and only managed to settle the game in the final quarter. Although they couldn't make a big run early on, Valmiera still led by six points after the first quarter.
They managed to set themselves up with a decent margin in the second, running up by 16 before the halftime break. Nevertheless, the Belorussians managed to get back in the game, as they put up a great fight in the third quarter.
It wasn't turning into a comeback though, as Borisfen couldn't manage to hold onto the game and let Valmiera slip away. The Latvians got back on track and coasted to an easy win.
Damier Pitts was the leading scorer for Valmiera with 19 points and 7 assists. Lauris Blaus added 15 points and 8 rebounds.
Aliaksandr Kharkevich was the top scorer for the visitors with 15 points.