Another week is now in the books and there wasn’t too much action in the Triobet BBL this time. We had only three games to play this week, but we’re still as excited to present you the fifth volume of the Triobet BBL Weekly Review.
MVP. Rinalds Sirsnins, who is known to be a volume shooter, went all-out in his team‘s one-point win against Tarvas. While he was still his old self, firing at will from downtown (4-of-14), he was incredible on the boards and getting his teammates involved and was on the verge of a triple-double. The guard led the team with 19 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists and was chosen as the player of the week.
MISSED BUZZERS. Two games were decided by a margin of a single point this week, and both of them could have easily gone the other way. Janis Kaufmanis missed his last-second three-pointer in Valmiera’s 58-59 loss to Pieno Zvaigzdes, while Tarvas’ Timo Eichfuss could have won the game against Jekabpils with his own long-range shot, as the Estonians lost 82-83.
COMEBACK. What makes things even worse for Tarvas, besides the missed buzzer-beater, is the fact that they were in control for most of the game. However, Jekabpils managed to put up a good run of possessions and turned a double-digit deficit into a win in the fourth quarter alone.
EUROPE. Not too much luck for Baltic teams in other European competitions this week, as only the two clubs competing in the Basketball Champions League achieved victories. Both Juventus and Ventspils improved in the standings, while 4 teams suffered defeats.
DEFENSE. We witnessed a very low scoring affair in Valmiera this week, as their game against Pieno Zvaigzdes set a couple new season records. First off, the two teams combined for just 117 points (in comparison, Jekabpils holds the highest scoring game so far with 104 points just to themselves) and that was the least points scored by both teams in a game. Secondly, the fourth quarter of the game, which ended 10-7, was the lowest scoring quarter this season. A lot of that had to do with the 3-minute drought at the end of the quarter, when neither side managed to put the ball in the basket.
We’re up for a week twice as busy starting Tuesday, with six games on the schedule.
Only three games were played this week, and there was seemingly less competition for the Triobet BBL Weekly MVP award, yet even this time we had a couple worthy candidates. None as worthy as Jekapbils‘ guard Rinalds Sirsnins, who filled his statline in all departments.
Sirsnins, who is known to be a volume shooter, went all-out in his team‘s one-point win against Tarvas. While he was still his old self, firing at will from downtown (4-of-14), he was incredible on the boards and getting his teammates involved. Rinalds was on the verge of a triple-double in the victory, amassing 19 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists.
Sirsnins made up for his sub-par shooting from the field (6-of-17) with his hustle and commitment, leading to an efficiency rating of 24.
With another win this week, Jekabpils has now racked up four wins in five games and are looking very strong sitting in second place in Group B.
Right on his back was Lithuanian forward Tauras Jogela, who had 22 rating points. He was solid with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists, as he led Barons kvartals to their third victory.
As there was not too much action in the Triobet BBL this week, let‘s look at what the eight clubs joining us from the play-offs were up against in other European competitions.
To keep you up-to-date, BBL.net brings you the latest international updates in a weekly round-up.
The one team participating in the 7DAYS EuroCup, Lietkabelis, had a break in the schedule this week. The Lithuanians share the second position in Group A with Croatian side Cedevita and Nizhny Novgorod from Russia.
VTB United League
Kalev/Cramo faced the aforementioned Nizhny Novgorod in the VTB United League and were handed a blow-out loss. In a high-scoring affair, the Estonian powerhouse were taken care of early on and ultimately faced a 102-81 defeat. Vitali Liutych was the highest scorer for the team with 22 points to his name.
Basketball Champions League
Juventus achieved a thrilling victory in Belgrade, as they took down Mega Leks in a true dunk-off of a game. The Lithuanian team barely managed to hold on to their double-digit lead, as their opponents raced back in the fourth quarter, with a chance to win the game with the final shot (and several tip-ins). Juventus went on to win 79-77 and improved to 3-1 and share the top spot with two other teams.
Meanwhile, Ventspils had an easy win at home, defeating Openjobmetis Varese in dominating fashion. The Latvians amassed an impressive 17-point lead in the first two quarters and put the game to bed in the final period, running away with a 91-66 win. The win helped the team recover from an unexpected loss last week and improve the record to 2-2.
FIBA Europe Cup
More of the same in Siauliai, as the back-to-back-to-back champions of the Baltic Basketball League continue to struggle coping with a much smaller budget. After losing to Tsmoki-Minsk 77-90, the Lithuanians have already lost (all) four games in a row.
After destroying another Triobet BBL club, TLU/Kalev, last week, Vytautas had a gap in the schedule this week. Meanwhile, TLU/Kalev had to face yet another defeat in Saku Suurhall, as BC Mures got the best of them, 76-89. Leading the way for the visitors was a well-known face – Ernests Kalve. The Latvian helped BC Mures with 19 points and 6 rebounds.
The only game that really could have gone either way in this competition was the matchup between Tartu and the Redwell Gunners. The Estonians were close, but close is just not enough. A 77-79 win for the Austrians, and Tartu dropdown the standings.
JURMALA – Not much drama in Jurmala today, as Barons kvartals coasted to an easy away victory, taking their third win out of four. They took control early on and coasted to the finish line for the 73-60 win.
Barons kvartals hit the mark early on and looked strong enough to jump ahead by seven points midway through the first quarter. After that, a three minute drought took place, as neither side could manage a point, leading to the same 7-point margin for the Riga side.
The visitors did not let up, and pushed their lead to double-digits in the second quarter, while a number of missed free-throws did Jurmala/Fenikss no favors in cutting the deficit.
There wasn’t much drama in the second half either, as a 14-5 run drove the lead up to 18 points. Edgars Jeromanovs did manage a three-pointer before the third quarter ended, but it was still a 15 point spread going into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter looked to be turning the game into a total blow-out, as Barons’ lead rose to 23 with three minutes to go. However, the home side held their opponents scoreless and managed to trim the deficit to a reasonable 13 points with a 10-0 run.
RAKVERE - Jekabpils made a great fourth quarter turnaround and came back to win it against Tarvas, 83-82 in what was surely the most exciting game of the week.
We saw five lead changes in the first quarter alone, as neither side managed any sort of advantage, going back and forth, back and forth.
While it seemed the second period would have the same scenario, Tarvas finally managed to get away with a run starting in the middle of the quarter. A couple great consecutive trips allowed them to push ahead by 10.
Jekabpils trimmed the deficit in half and finally had some momentum going in the third quarter. The gap was cut to just 2 points before Tarvas got a small run of their own going. Once again, they brought their lead back to 10 points with a couple minutes to go in the final quarter.
In the final quarter, it was nothing but Jekabpils. They opened the quarter with 8 unanswered points, leading to a 13-3 run, and finally jumped ahead by one.
The teams continued to battle it out for the remaining half of the quarter, and it was finally Rinalds Sirsnins free-throws that took the game for Jekabpils, as Tarvas’ final shot did not reach the target.
VALMIERA – There was only one game in store for us this Tuesday, but it was sure to be a close one! It was a nip-and-tuck affair throughout a good portion of the forty minutes, but Pieno Zvaigzdes ultimately managed to go out on top of Valmiera, winning by one, 59-58.
Led by seven points from Derrick Low, Pieno Zvaigzdes rushed ahead in the first quarter, going up by eight after ten minutes. Nevertheless, Valmiera/ORDO took no time to get back in the game, mounting an impressive run in the second period. The Latvians won the quarter by ten and were in pole position at halftime.
Valmiera led the way throughout the third quarter, but were unable to get any tangible lead. With just two points separating the teams and ten minutes of basketball remaining, this one could have gone either way.
That was when the scoring halted. Both teams couldn’t find a way to the basket and combined for just 17 points altogether. Pieno Zvaigzdes were trailing all the way until the 37th minute of basketball, when Steponas Babrauskas pushed the team in front with a three-pointer.
While it seemed we would have an exciting final minutes of the fourth quarter, both teams had numerous unsuccessful attempts despite putting up good shots. After defending against Pieno Zvaigzdes posession, Valmiera had the chance to go ahead, but Janis Kaufmanis missed what could have been a game-winning three-pointer.
Steponas Babrauskas and Egidijus Dimsa led the way with 13 points apiece, as they also contributed 7 and 9 rebounds respectively. Derrick Low calmed down after a great first quarter, but still ended up with 12 points and 7 assists. Andriy Agafonov added another 12 points and 9 rebounds to the tally.
Janis Kaufmanis was the game‘s highest scorer with 16 points, but that amounted to an efficiency rating of just 8. Arturs Berzins added 11 points and 6 boards.
Another week has passed to make it a month that Triobet BBL basketball is back in store. Let's rewind and check out the highlights of the week in the fourth volume of the Triobet BBL Weekly Review.
Six games were played this week and we can look forward to three more this upcoming Tuesday and Wednesday, Valmiera/ORDO vs. Pieno Zvaigzdes being the first match played.
WEEKLY MVP. For the second time this season, AVIS/Rapla big man Thomas van der Mars has been named the Player of the Week for his performance against Barons kvartals. He put up 23 points and added 12 rebounds to seal an overtime win in Riga.
QUOTE. "You win trophies at the end of the season, not the start" – October MVP Martins Laksa, speaking of Valmiera’s early season injury struggles.
INJURIES. Our MVP for the month of October Martins Laksa was enjoying a great Triobet BBL campaign, while Valmiera/ORDO secured two victories to open the season, until injuries struck the team. Laksa is now out for at least six weeks, as the Latvian side tries to cope with multiple injuries.
UNDEFEATED. Four weeks into the season, only one team has nothing but wins in the standings. Pieno Zvaigzdes have won all four games they’ve played so far by an average margin of 21.7 points. The closest encounter they’ve had so far was their road match-up against Jekabpils, which they won 76-72.
CHECK. Jurmala/Fenikss finally opened up their “W” tab, as they managed to overcome the only team that hasn’t yet won a game in Group A, Port of Parnu by eight points, 72-64
For the second time this season, AVIS/Rapla big man Thomas van der Mars has been named the Player of the Week for his performance against Barons kvartals. Let us remind you that the Weekly MVP award is given to the best individual performance on a winning team.
Van der Mars secured his third double-double of the season and led Rapla to a thrilling overtime win against Barons. The final score was 86-80 in favor of the Estonians and the center from Netherlands was a big part of it on both ends of the court.
He scored 23 points at a 9-of-13 clip and also added 12 rebounds to the total. Thomas van der Mars, however did have some flaws to his game this time around – not only did he fail to live up to expectations at the free-throw line, shooting a sub-par 5-of-9 (55.6 percent), but he also turned the ball over five times. Nevertheless, it was still an outstanding performance from the big man with an efficiency rating of 25 leading to an important win for the Estonians.
Van der Mars has been excellent this season and is looking like an early regular season MVP contender, as he’s averaged a double-double of 19.8 points and 10.8 rebounds throughout four games.
Valmiera/ORDO forward Martins Laksa was recently announced the Triobet BBL Player of the Month for October after putting up some impressive performances in the first two games of the season, but was recently sidelined due to an injury.
The Latvian averaged 22 points and 5.5 rebounds, all while shooting at an incredible clip. He's hit 17-of-23 field goals, including an astonishing 8-of-11 from downtown in the two games Valmiera won before he got injured.
A broken bone in his hand has left Martins Laksa without basketball for at least six weeks, but he is already looking to get back and show what a healthy Valmiera/ORDO is capable of.
Laksa had his take on individual awards versus team success, Valmiera/ORDO's early season injury troubles and the Triobet BBL format.
The Triobet BBL organization would like to congratulate you on raking in the October MVP honors. What’s your take on individual awards? Is it something you cherish, or is it just a nice side task for you?
First of all, thank you. Of course, it’s always pleasant to receive some kind of recognition either for myself or for the team as a whole. But with all due respect, individual award do not bring that much to the table, I suppose. At the end of the day, everyone will care first and foremost about the team and its place in the standings. Everyone will remember what kind of basketball the team was playing, whether it won any titles and how they finished the season.
Well, talking about the team – is it right to say that the start of the season has started not exactly the way you’d hoped for?
I think it’s fair to say that the start of season is totally unlike the one which we and our supporters had imagined. I don’t know who could be satisfied with the performances we’ve put up recently. We haven’t had any easy games and even the wins we are getting are always hard fought, but speaking of the losses… Let's put it this way – we have had some very unpleasant losses, which you usually would not expect from the reigning Latvian champions. Looking at it from a different perspective, you win trophies at the end of the season, not at the start – so we have time to fix our flaws. However, that does not change the fact that currently we are not displaying the best basketball we are capable of playing. And of course, some of it is also connected with our injury problems, as we constantly have someone missing from the line-up.
You mentioned the Latvian championship – could it be that the title puts additional pressure on Valmiera/Ordo?
Exactly so, for us this is a big responsibility. Everyone expects to see us playing high quality basketball at all times, but for now we’re unable to fulfill these expectations. There is pressure on us from all sides and, of course, also from ourselves. We haven`t managed to deal with that yet. Even the aspects of the game that we were great at last season, currently aren’t going well, and that leads to losses.
This year, our team has a new coach again – Uvis Helmanis. Maybe there is still some time needed to get used to each other?
I honestly don’t think there is any reason to look for fault in the coaching staff or something like that. We just have a lot of injuries. We were waiting for players to return on roster, but now we have even more problems, including my own injury.
Is it something serious?
Well yeah, I guess so – it’s a broken bone in my hand, I’m out for at least six weeks. That will also leave an impact on the team. We had also quite unlucky experience with foreign players. Ovidijus Varanauskas has already returned home, while American guard Carson Puriefoy is also injured. We need to fight with injuries all the time, and that doesn’t allow us to show our best performance. We are not able to play as quick and with the same intensity as coach would like us to, so in this situation it’s not right to talk anything about it being the coach’s fault.
But you yourself don’t expect to return earlier than middle of December?
That’s right. I do hope in January everyone will be finally back and ready to play. Haralds Karlis, Arturs Berzins, and now also Rinalds Malmanis injured his ankle... We kind of have a hospital here, while the rest of the players need to play in positions that they’re not used to.
Well, we wish you and your team to get back on track, of course! But in the end I wanted to ask you about your opinion on the current BBL system and format. Maybe you have some suggestions?
I believe the current format with two groups is quite fine. Participating teams from Belarus and Kazakhstan give us some new refreshing competition, and I think that foreign teams from outside the Baltic States are also interesting for fans. Although if you meant asking about the play-off system – I think that those eight teams, which will start the BBL season from the first round of the play-offs have earned that place by representing Baltic States in European competitions. Sure, it would be much better if all strongest Baltic teams, including Zalgiris and VEF, would play the full regular season at BBL, but it’s their decision.
Eight teams are currently participating in other European competitions and will join the Triobet BBL starting Play-offs.
To keep you up-to-date, BBL.net brings you the latest international updates in a weekly round-up.
After starting the season with two incredible victories, Lietkabelis have taken a step back in the last two games. This week, they faced undefeated Gran Canaria in Spain and fell far short of expectations with a lopsided 67-86 loss. They are still doing pretty well in Group A, standing in third with a 2-2 record.
VTB United League
Kalev/Cramo showed just how much home walls matter, as they got back on a winning path in their first game in the Saku Suurhall. The Estonians had no trouble taking Astana to school with an 84-67 victory that helped them get the record straight at 2-2.
Basketball Champions League
Ventspils were unfortunate when they faced Muratbey Usak Sportif in Turkey. In the game that they were truly hoping to win, the Latvians managed to let the victory slip out their fingers in the final minutes of play. The 69-75 loss pushes Ventspils down a couple spots with a 1-2 record.
The other Triobet BBL team competing in this tournament, Juventus had no luck this week either. They were on the losing end against Iberostar Tenerife for 40 minutes and ultimately fell by a huge margin, 71-93.
FIBA Europe Cup
Two Triobet BBL clubs faced off in Group I of the FIBA Europe Cup, as Vytautas demolished Estonian side TLU/Kalev. It was never a close contest, as the Lithuanians earned a double-digit advantage already in the first quarter and just kept building on it. The final score shows no mercy, as Vytautas went out up by 43, 104-61. The two sides are on opposite ends of the standings at the moment.
Historically a team that would always fight for a podium finish in Lithuania, Siauliai are having the worst season in decades. Another loss in the FIBA Europe Cup, 90-108 against third-placed Czech basketball team BK Pardubice, now puts them at a 0-3 record, with hopes of qualification flying away.