KEDAINIAI – A huge fourth quarter performance saw Lietkabelis snatch an 84-61 victory on the road against Nevezis in the first leg of the all-Lithuanian Triobet BBL Quarter-Final match-up in Kedainiai on Wednesday evening.
After a horrendous finish to the game, the Kedainiai side will be the heavy underdogs before the return leg in Panevezys on March 9.
The first half consisted of a non-stop see-saw battle between the sides, with the lead changing hands multiple times. Lietkabelis were the first team to make a serious move after the interval, going on a 10-2 run to go up 55-47.
However, Nevezis finished the third quarter strong and cut the deficit to two points before the final frame. It was all downhill from there on for the hosts, who simply couldn’t get anything going in the last ten minutes, as Lietkabelis made a serious statement for a Semi-Final spot after an incredible 25-4 run.
Mile Ilic was unstoppable with 23 points and seven rebounds, Valdas Vasylius scored 13 points, while Julius Kazakauskas finished the game with 10 points and six boards.
For Nevezis, Vaidotas Volkus and Ernestas Ezerskis scored 12 points apiece, with no other players reaching double figures.
TARTU – TU/Rock dominated the first leg of the Triobet BBL Quarter-Final tie against Liepaja/Triobet, coming away with a 27-point lead before the second leg, having registered a 93-66 victory at home in Tartu on Tuesday evening.
The Latvian side will have a chance to redeem itself on March 8, but it will be an up-hill struggle for Liepaja/Triobet to close a gap this big.
The start of the game set the tone for what was to come, with the hosts opening the first quarter with a forceful 10-0 run. The gap continued to grow in the second quarter, as TU/Rock entered the halftime break with a 49-32 lead.
Not much changed after the interval, with Tartu dominating on both ends of the floor. The gap grew to 26 at the end of the third quarter and reached 32 at one point in the final frame.
Brian Harper was the top-scorer for TU/Rock with 19 points, seven rebounds and five blocks after going 13-of-14 from the free-throw stripe. However, the big man also committed eight turnovers.
Tanel Kurbas added 18 points and 11 rebounds, Brian Harper scored 17 points after going 13-of-14 from the free-throw stripe, while Gert Dorbek finished the game with 14 points.
For Liepaja/Triobet, David Hicks had a team-high 16 points, Ingars Aizpurs collected 15, while Kris Richard and Klavs Cavars added 11 points apiece.
SIAULIAI – There wasn’t much separating the sides in the first leg of the Quarter-Final tie between Siauliai and Jekabpils, with the Lithuanian side claiming a 73-64 victory at home in Siauliai on Tuesday.
The return game will be played in Jekabpils on March 10.
After a close opening quarter, it seemed that the hosts would pull away for good in the second quarter, having opened a 38-25 gap with two minutes remaining in the first half. However, Jekabpils answered with a 9-1 run to cut the deficit to five points before the halftime interval.
In a tightly contested third quarter, Siauliai managed to increase their advantage by a pair and entered the final frame with a 55-47 lead. The game could’ve gone either way late in the fourth quarter, but a solid finish secured a nine-point win for the Lithuanians.
Mike Scott led the winners with 15 points and 14 assists, newcomer Rokas Giedraitis and Cameron Ayers dropped 14 points apiece, while captain Gintaras Leonavicius finished the game with 12 points and eight rebounds.
Rinalds Sirsnins had a game-high 21 points and 10 assists, Ronaldas Rutkauskas double-doubled with 16 points and 15 rebounds, while Arturs Duselis chipped in with 10 points.
PARNU – Defending Triobet BBL champions Siauliai advanced through the first round of Play-Offs with ease, following up a 40-point home victory against Port of Parnu with a 85-80 win on the road in Estonia on Thursday evening.
In the Quarter-Final stage, the Lithuanian club will face Jekabpils, who trumped AVIS Rapla in their Eight-Final tie after a strong showing in the return leg.
There is no question that all parties involved conceded well in advance that making up a 40-point gap simply was not going to happen for the Parnu club.
Bowing out with grace was the only target for Mait Kabin’s side and they managed to achieve it. However, the game itself once again belonged to Siauliai.
The defending champs did not allow Port of Parnu to finish their Triobet BBL campaign on a positive note, taking a close win.
RIGA – A 93-93 draw against Pieno Zvaigzdes was not good enough for Barons/LDz, as the Latvians had their Quarter-Final hopes cut due to their horrible performance in the first leg of the series.
It was a high-scoring affair right from the get-go, as the teams combined for 49 points in the first quarter. The three-point margin after the first period turned into an 11-point spread in the next ten minutes, bringing the home side a glimmer of hope for a miracle comeback.
However, Barons‘ hopes were shattered in a matter of minutes, as Pieno Zvaigzdes returned after halftime with an 11-2 run to erase the double-digit deficit.
As the quarter-finalist was set in stone, Barons/LDz were left to fight for nothing but honor. With just seconds remaining and the score tied, the Latvians had a shot at victory, but were unable to convert and the game ended in a draw.
Ramon Moore was outstanding, as he put up 34 points on 12-of-16 shooting, while Derrick Low also had a wonderful night scoring. The Hawaiian added 23 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists to the tally. Giedrius Staniulis chipped in with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Arturs Ausejs led Barons/LDz in scoring with 17 points to his name, while Carl Hipp added 16 points and 10 boards to the total. Jason Calliste ended the game with 15 points.
Pieno Zvaigzdes‘ next opponent will be Valmiera/ORDO, as the two clubs battle for a spot in the Semi-Final.
PRIENAI – The first major upset of the Triobet BBL Play-Offs came in Prienai, where the best Regular Season team Vytautas were knocked out in the Eight-Final round by the visiting Nevezis, who claimed a 107-83 victory after losing the first leg by five points.
After injuries to Vilmantas Dilys and Vaidas Cepukaitis, the injury-struck Vytautas were left without any big man presence and coach Virginijus Seskus had to rely forward Laimonas Kisielius to act as the team’s man in the middle.
In a high-paced game, Vytautas started the game relatively well and led for most of the opening quarter, but quickly ran out of steam. The eight-man Prienai side ran out of steam in the second quarter, which they lost 25-15, and continued the downward slide after the interval.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Taylor King at the end of the third quarter had increased the gap to 76-60, but Kajus Okmanas answered with a three of his own to slice the deficit to 13 points before the final frame.
Nevezis did not fall under pressure and punched its ticket to the Quarter-Final with solid play in the fourth quarter. They will face another Lithuanian team Lietkabelis in the Quarter-Final round and will be hoping to force another upset.
King led the winners with 27 points and 12 rebounds in a spectacular performance off the bench, Mindaugas Kupsas abused the opponents inside the paint with 10-on-10 shooting from the field for a total of 22 points, while Darius Gvezdauskas added 15 points.
For the hosts, Vytautas Sulskis had a game-high 32 points, but it simply wasn’t enough. Kisielius scored 14 points, Sarunas Vasiliauskas added 13, while Kajus Okmanas finished the game with 10.
PANEVEZYS – There was nothing separating Lietkabelis and Jurmala/Fenikss after the first leg of the Eight-Final tie between the sides in Latvia, but the Lithuanian side took care of business at home in Panevezys, defeating the visitors 92-78 in the second game to advance to the next round.
The hosts started the game with a high level of intensity and broke away to an early double-digit lead in the first quarter. However, Jurmala/Fenikss finished the period with a small run to cut the deficit to 19-14.
Led by a 13-point first half effort by Arnas Labuckas, Lietkabelis restored a double figure advantage before the interval, with teams heading to the locker rooms with the scoreboard signaling a 39-28 lead for the hosts.
Serbian big man Mile Ilic took over the scoring duties from the team’s captain after the halftime break, as Panevezys ran away with the game in the third quarter, deciding the outcome of the Eight-Final tie well before the final period.
Ilic finished the game with a team-high 19 points and 12 rebounds, Mantas Kazonas scored 17 points, while Arnas Labuckas collected 13 points in only 17 minutes of action for Lietkabelis.
For the visitors from Jurmala, Maris Ziedins had a game-high 20 points, Edgars Jeromanovs scored 16 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out six dimes, while Edmunds Elksnis had 15 points.
In the Quarter-Final, Lietkabelis will face Nevezis, who recorded the biggest upset of the Triobet BBL Play-Offs so far by knocking out the best Regular Season team Vytautas in their Eight-Final match-up.
VALMIERA – There was no drama in the Vidzeme Olympic Center, as the home side Valmiera/ORDO doubled their first-leg 18-point advantage against TLU Kalev with an 87-68 win at home.
As there was a huge spread even before tip-off, no one was expecting a close contest, yet TLU still hung in there in the first quarter, trailing by only one. However, Valmiera flipped the switch in the second period and amassed an insurmountable lead before halftime.
The Latvians were not taking any chances and were sure to see the double-digit lead through, as they booked a ticket to the Quarter-Final.
Valmiera received a solid performance from their bench players, as the starters accounted for merely a third of the team‘s points. Leading the way, it was Davis Rozitis, who ended the game with a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds. Aigars Skele added 12 points, while Lauris Blaus was the third-highest scorer with 8 points to his name.
Johnny Berhanemeskel was once again the leading scorer for TLU Kalev, as he tallied 18 points, while Dominykas Milka had an outstanding performance totaling 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Valmiera will now face the winner of the Pieno Zvaigzdes – Barons/LDZ pair in the next round.
LIEPAJA – Playing with comfortable 24-point security blanket from the first leg, Liepaja/Triobet advanced to the Quarter-Finals after taking care of Tarvas 93-87 after a strong fourth quarter display at home in Latvia on Tuesday evening.
While the game itself was tightly contested, the outcome of the tie was never in doubt, with Liepaja/Triobet head coach Uvis Helmanis running a tight ship.
The hosts got off to a slightly better start, taking a 25-21 edge after the opening period. The team form Liepaja stayed in front throughout the second quarter as well, but the gap between the sides was marginal.
In the second half, Tarvas made a couple of attempts to close the gap, but Liepaja/Triobet always had a response down their sleeve, as they wrapped up the game with ease.
Kristopher Richard was impressive for the hosts with 34 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while David Hicks was the only other player for Liepaja/Triobet in double figures with 13 points to his name.
For Tarvas, newcomer Brandis Raley-Ross had a team-high 23 points, Reinis Strupovics scored 21 points and dished out seven assists, while David Haughton collected 10 points and 11 rebounds.
JEKABPILS – Having finished the first leg of the Eight-Final tie against AVIS Rapla with a 14-point deficit, Jekabpils were faced with a difficult situation. However, the Latvian side used home court advantage to use, taking a 93-65 victory at home on Tuesday to progress to the Quarter-Finals.
The host set the tone early, opening a double-digit lead after the first quarter at 26-15, but it was really the second period that hurt AVIS Rapla the most. The Estonians combined for only six points as a team, while Jekabpils dropped 32 on the other end.
Having entered the halftime break with a 37-point deficit and down by 23 on aggregate at 58-21, it was now AVIS Rapla who found themselves in a difficult situation. After a modestly successful third quarter, the Estonian deficit cut the gap to 25 points, but couldn’t get much further than that.
Tyler Larson had a team-high 21 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and five steals off the bench for Jekabpils, Modestas Kumpys and Rinalds Sirsnins scored 18, while Sandis Silavs contributed with 17 points.
For AVIS Rapla, Devin Brooks collected 25 points, Maurice Leroy Kemp Jr had 13 points and six rebounds, while Indrek Kajupank chipped in with 10 points.
In the next round, Jekabpils will face the winner of the tie between Siauliai and Port of Parnu, with the Lithuanian club holding a commanding lead after the first leg at home.