RIGA – The series between Barons kvartals and Kalev/Cramo unexpectedly turned into a thriller, as the Latvians returned from 19 points down just to be shut down in the final minutes. Barons won 77-66, but the Estonian club will move on to the Semis.
With a 19-point advantage heading into the game, Kalev/Cramo had to feel confident. Nevertheless, the Latvians promised they‘d put up a great fight, and that was apparent already in the first quarter.
Barons played some good basketball in the first quarter, but couldn‘t get a tangible lead despite jumping ahead by 5 points mid-way through the first ten minutes. It was an intense bout with the Latvians leading by one after the first segment.
We saw a couple of highlight plays from both sides in the second quarter, as Mickell Gladness and Denis Krestinin tested out the strength of the baskets with rim-rattling dunks. As the teams traded slams, the score remained in balance. That was a sight that pleased the Estonians more, of course. Before the half ended, Barons kvartals had brought some thrill into the series, as they had a 7 point advantage at halftime, meaning there was only 12 points to return in the second part of the game.
While Kalev/Cramo didn‘t make that task easy for the Latvians, they managed to cut into the deficit even more in the first minutes of the half. After an unsportsmanlike foul stopping a fast break, Barons made it a five-point possession with two free-throws and a three-pointer, raising their advantage to 14, and nearly wiping out the 19-point deficit from the first leg.
Barons kvartals continued their magic and got another couple buckets to go, as they tied the combined result of the series, having won the third quarter 25-13.
The margin floated around that 20-point mark for most of the final quarter, with neither side able to make any breathing room for themselves. With three minutes to go, Kalev/Cramo had a six-point advantage in the series, as they managed to trim the deficit of the return leg to 13 points.
The Latvians couldn‘t convert on a couple of shots and ended up winning by just 11 points, not enough to see them through to the next round.
Davis Geks was the top-scorer for Barons, as he dropped 20 points. Tyler Larson was impressive in the third-quarter run but was completely shut down in the fourth, as he ended up with 16 points. Denis Krestinin was solid as always, contributing big time with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 3 steals.
For the Estonians, the duo of Vitali Liutych and Cedric Simmons scored 18 points apiece, as Simmons also tallied 9 boards. Branko Mirkovic had 10 points, while Mark Tollefsen ended up with 8.
VALMIERA – A big first leg win allowed Vytautas to advance to the next round despite losing against Valmiera/ORDO in the return game of the series. The game ended 74-64, but the 31-point advantage was too big to overcome, therefore Vytautas advance to the Semifinals of the tournament.
Valmiera/ORDO got a good start, jumping ahead by six points in the first quarter, but it was quite obvious that they were still facing a big hill to climb.
It was a battle we were hoping to see at the beginning of the series, as it was a very equal fight. Neither side managed to push the game one way or the other and it was a five-point advantage for the Latvians.
Nevertheless, a five-point advantage just wouldn't cut it. The Latvians really needed a miracle to mount a huge comeback, but it wasn't in them. Although Valmiera fought harder and put more heart into the game in front of their home fans, the deficit was too large to overcome.
Victorious, yet defeated, Valmiera/ORDO were led by Martins Laksa's 18 points. Damier Pitts was responsible for 14 points, while Arturs Berzins added 13 to the tally.
On the other side, it was a half-assed performance from Vytautas, who were led by 12 points from Vytenis Lipkevicius. Arturas Valeika and Tadas Klimavicius chipped in with 11, while Regimantas Miniotas also reached double-digits with 10 points to his name.
PASVALYS – After having secured a nine-point away victory in Liepaja, Pieno Zvaigzdes finished the job at home, finding ways to end the series strong with a 109-93 win against Liepaja/Triobet. They will now face off against University of Tartu in the Semifinals.
Having a nine-point advantage heading into a home game, Pieno Zvaigzdes were always deemed a favorite, especially since they hadn't lost a home game in the Triobet BBL throughout the whole season.
However, the battle might have been harder than they expected. Despite the fact that they started off strong, Pieno Zvaigzdes couldn't hang on to the 7-poing first quarter lead for long. Combined with the nine points from before, the 16-point advantage did look menacing, however.
Nevertheless, Liepaja/Triobet managed to return to the series with a terrific second quarter, as they won the segment by a eight points and jumped ahead by one.
The Lithuanians sorted everything out after the break, running off to an insurmountable lead. Keeping the first game advantage in mind, they finished out the game strong and moved on to the Semis!
Evaldas Zabas and Nikita Balashov were the top scorers for Pasvalys with 18 points apiece, while Osvaldas Olisevicius and Derrick Low accounted for 15, while the American also dished out 9 assists. Egidijus Dimsa had 12 points, while Justas Tamulis ended the game with 11.
For Liepaja, it was Arturs Ausejs with the game-high 30 points. The duo of Carl Anthony Montgomery and Malcolm Griffin chipped in with 13 apiece, while Rihards Berzins ended the game with 11.
KEDAINIAI – TU/Rock came to Lithuania with a two-point deficit, but will leave with their heads held high, as they were impressive in the return leg against Nevezis, winning by 14, 92-78. They will now move on to the Semi-Finals, where they face either Liepaja/Triobet or Pieno Zvaigzdes.
Tartu managed to get their heads in front in the first quarter, mostly due to the succesful play of Dominykas Milka, who led the team with 11 points in just the opening quarter. Before the first period ended, University of Tartu had already wiped away the slim, two-point, deficit they were facing at the start of the game, as they jumped ahead by four points, 22-18.
The visitors had managed to bring the lead up to 8 points, but a couple of three pointers and a technical foul for Tartu‘s Head Coach Gert Kullemae quickly wiped away the deficit. Nevertheless, after an 11-0 run, the lead took a big swing in Tartu‘s direction. By halftime, Nevezis were already facing an 11-point deficit and really needed to talk things over.
Dominykas Milka and Vaidotas Volkus were doing most of the heavy lifting for their respective clubs in the first half. Milka tallied an impressive 20 points before the break, while Volkus was good for 15 for Nevezis.
University of Tartu came out of the halftime break hot and quickly advanced their margin to 16 points, as Nevezis seemed incapable of stopping their opponents.
It was quite obvious the Lithuanians would need a miracle to come out of this game alive, as they faced a huge deficit. Nevertheless, Nevezis slowly chipped at the lead and after Vaidotas Volkus' three, it was just a 6-point combined deficit with three minutes on the clock. Tartu responded with several buckets of their own and finished strong.
It‘s been a spectacular week in the Triobet BBL, with a couple of stand-out performances highlighting the start of the Quarterfinals. We are sure there‘s more to come, but let‘s take a look at what happened in the first leg with the 18th Volume of the Triobet BBL Weekly Review.
MVP. Vitali Liutych made headlines this week with a monstrous performance in his second Triobet BBL game, as he dropped 47 points and tore down 8 rebounds in Kalev/Cramo‘s first-leg win over Barons kvartals. The all-time scoring record earns him the Player of the Week award and bragging rights, possibly for quite a while.
RUN. For nearly three full quarters, it was an intense battle, but Barons kvartals were shattered by Liutych‘s Kalev/Cramo late in the third, as the Estonians went on to win big, 100-81. Relive the record-breaking game with DELFI TV‘s highlights:
BUZZERBEATER. Jermaine Love did it again. Not even a week after his last-second drive against Jekabpils that won them the series, Love hit another buzzerbeater. The shot over two defenders won them the game against University of Tartu, as they now look to secure home court.
BLOWOUT. Not too many people could have predicted that Vytautas would be as dominant, as they were in the first game of the series against Valmiera/ORDO. The Lithuanians ran off in the second quarter and comfortably coasted to the finish line, winning 102-71.
SIXTH MAN. Any coach would be happy to see their bench players putting up a performance like Egidijus Dimsa did, especially in a game as big as this. Dimsa enjoyed an outstanding evening, scoring 28 points and tallying 11 rebounds in Pasvalys‘ 9-point win against Liepaja/Triobet.
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.