RAPLA – AVIS Rapla will have multiple reasons to celebrate the end of the year, and tonight’s 87-60 win against Barsy Atyrau added to that list, as the Estonian club made history, not losing a single home game in all competitions before the New Year.
The Estonians have won all four home games in the Triobet BBL, five games in the Estonian Alexela Basketball League and have also been victorious in an Estonian Cup game. Their home fortress remains untouched with a 10-0 home record. The last time something similar happened was when current AVIS Rapla head coach Aivar Kuusmaa was still playing for Tallinn A. Le Coq, nearly 15 years ago.
With the home fans backing them, Rapla managed to get off to a good start and amassed a 9-point lead right out of the gates, 11-2. The margin quickly expanded and reached 16 before the first quarter even ended.
The second quarter didn't start off as swiftly as the Estonians might have hoped, as they opened their scoring nearly three minutes into the game. Barsy, on the other hand, used the stagnation in AVIS Rapla's game to get a bit closer with an 11-2 run that cut the deficit to just 7.
Nevertheless, the home side managed to regain control of the lead and 19 points separated the two teams at halftime.
We didn't see too many changes in the second half and Rapla celebrated a comfortable lead.
It’s Sunday once again, and that means it’s time to look back at what’s happened throughout the week in the Triobet Baltic Basketball League. BBL.net presents you the ninth volume of the Triobet BBL Weekly Review.
MVP. It’s a Pieno Zvaigzdes’ player going for the Weekly MVP award for the second week in a row, as Ignas Fiodorovas claims the award this time. The 20-year-old is normally just a role player for the Pasvalys side, but he put up impressive numbers in the team’s record win against Borisfen, tallying 18 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 6 steals.
STOCKTON? We might have a version of a certain John Stockton playing in the Triobet BBL, as Toni Prostran was dishing out assists to whoever wanted them and set a new Triobet BBL record with 17 assists to his name. To take matters into perspective, more than half of the teams didn’t reach 17 assists as a whole this week.
RECORDS GALORE. What a night Tuesday was for Pieno Zvaigzdes, as they got nearly everything to fall against Borisfen. They set a new record for scoring in regulation with 111 points, a new record for most assists at 40, a new record for overall efficiency at 172, and got the biggest winning margin as well, defeating the Belorussians by 60 points. All this was made possible by the video game-like shooting, as the Lithuanians made 34-of-41 (83%) of their 2-point shots. Yes, that is a new record as well.
UNINSPIRING. Borisfen, on the other hand, have been making all the wrong moves in all the wrong places, as they currently sit at the bottom of the league with no wins and nine losses by an average margin of 35.6 points. Their latest achievement would be breaking their own record for least points scored in a game, as they managed to put up just 45 against Ogre/Kumho Tyre, a point shy from their previous mark.
OPENING. Barsy Atyrau have finally played their first (and second) game of the season, but it really didn’t go down as well as they might have hoped it would. They crashed and burned in the second half of the game against Nevezis, losing by 34 in their season opener, and lost by 14 against Liepaja/Triobet a couple days later.
STANDINGS. More than halfway into the regular season, there’s still nothing guaranteed for any of the teams, but the current trends are apparent. In Group A, the trio of AVIS Rapla, Nevezis and Barons kvartals are looking good with 5-2 records and Liepaja/Triobet breathing down their backs. Group B is more spread out – Pieno Zvaigzdes reign with a 7-1 record, followed by Jekabpils (6-2) and Valmiera/ORDO (5-2). Ogre/Kumho Tyre are right behind them with a 5-3 record, looking to make a run towards the top.
For the second week in a row, it‘s a Pieno Zvaigzdes‘ player raking in the Weekly MVP honors, as it was Ignas Fiodorovas with an exceptional performance this time around. He was nearly perfect in the 23 minutes of basketball he played and was deservedly named the Player of the Week.
The 20-year-old shot the ball with confidence and made 6-of-7 field goals and all 5 free throws, amassing a total of 18 points. Fiodorovas also filled the stat sheet in other departments, as he tore down 6 rebounds, dished out 6 assists and recorded 6 steals, tying for the best result this season in that category.
The guard managed a total of 33 ranking points, as he saw his team dominate Borisfen and set a record for biggest winning margin of the season, 111-51.
This was a stand-out game for Ignas Fiodorovas, as he’s been no more than a role player for the Lithuanian side. At the moment he’s averaging 7.3 points, 2 rebounds and 1.5 assists, while two of his best games were blow-out wins against Borisfen.
OGRE – Saturday adds another L to Borisfen’s win/loss column, as Ogre/Kumho Tyre dismantled the visitors without mercy, shutting down their offense to take the 75-45 victory. Ogre now improve to 5-3, while Borisfen sit on a pitiful 0-9 record.
After scoring the two opening points, Borisfen wouldn’t have the opportunity to hold another lead, as Ogre/Kumho Tyre raced off with a 12-0 run to jump ahead by double-digits. Nevertheless, The Belorussians proved that it was not yet over, as they got back into the game before the first quarter was over.
The two sides battled pretty well for nearly half of the second quarter as well, as the margin was just five points, but the Latvians finally managed to break through – they put up a 13-nothing run and amassed a 38-22 lead at halftime.
The margin only increased over the second half, as it reached game-high 36 points for Ogre in the fourth. It was all said and done early on, and all that mattered was the final score.
Rihards Zebergs was the leading scorer with 16 points to his name, while Lauris Mizis came close to a double-double of 14 points and 9 rebounds. Gints Antrops added 12 points to the tally, while Karlis Apsitis and Janis Poznaks chipped in with 11 points and 10 rebounds, respectively.
Vytautas Kamarunas scored 11 points to lead Borisfen, while Maksim Kozlovets added 9 points to the total.
Thomas van der Mars has been making waves in Baltic basketball this year, as he's already racked up three Player of the Week awards and was recently named MVP for the month of November.
The 26-year-old averaged 18.7 points this month, while also notching a double-double in every single game to put him at 12.3 rebounds per game. Van der Mars also contributed with 1.7 steals, 1.3 assists and 1.0 block a game. BBL.net talked to Thomas all about his experience in the Baltics.
First of all, let me congratulate you on your award. Was it a surprise for you?
I’m not a guy who plays for individual awards or stuff like that, but I can’t deny it is pleasing to receive such recognition also for yourself. So yeah, it was a nice surprise.
Four of five members of the Triobet BBL jury gave their votes for you. Would you call this award the biggest in your career?
I think so. I’ve had few individual awards during my time in college but this is definetely the biggest one while I am playing professionally.
Your team AVIS Rapla also seems on very nice course – five wins in seven matches in the BBL, nine out of 12 in Estonian league. Is it fair to say that this year Rapla is much stronger than the year before?
Well, I can speak only about the second half of the previous season, because I joined the team only in January. But yes, I would agree with you – most of our guys stayed in the team and became more experienced. We try to get better each and every day, and I don't think we are already at the level as we can be. That’s the fun part – to try figure a way how to develop yourself. For now we are mostly using a rotation of 7-8 guys and trying to get the best out of it.
Does AVIS Rapla have specific goals for this season or you are just trying to take game by game?
Yes, we are preparing for each game with such approach, and I think that’s the best way. Sure there are goals and achievements the team wants to reach, but I like how we are doing now – thinking only about the next game and trying to win it. I think that’s the best approach.
You already mentioned your arrival in Estonian and Baltic basketball – it will soon be a full year spent here. What are your impressions about Baltic basketball? Is it much different from what you experienced in NCAA and your home country?
Sure it is. The guys here need to play together much more, there is an emphasis on teamplay. Only trough passing and good positioning you can hope for long-term success. Also in the NCAA we needed to be all on the same page and avoid from really individual one-on-one plays, but here – at least for me – it seems much more important. Everybody needs to be moving, team defense is very important. I also see that lot of teams offer really good defensive schemes and to get past them you need to share the ball, and that is what our team is trying to do – passing on a good shot to get a great shot.
Which team would you rather in the Triobet BBL Play-Offs first round? Let’s not forget to take into consideration that the Play-Offs will consist of eight of the best teams from the regular season and eight seeded teams playing in other European competitions.
I absolutely understand that the strongest BBL teams are not playing in regular season. So, I guess, we just need to try and get as high a place as possible to be seeded higher.
After finishing your studies last summer your name was mentioned in NBA draft rumors several times. What were your thoughts – do you think you had a chance to get drafted?
Well, I knew I wouldn’t be chosen, it just wasn’t a realistic possibility. But yes, I did have a workout with the Portland Trail Blazers. My agent arranged it and it was a really nice experience. I was a bit surprised about their invitation, to be honest, but I really dont regret it.
Lastly, tell me about your national team. Netherlands is not considered a basketball country as much as it with football, but in the last EuroBasket you guys were making quite some noise, and almost reached the TOP 16 stage.
It’s true, we might not be on top of the list when you mention best European teams, but we are slowly growing. Unfortunately, we didn’t qualify for Eurobasket 2017. We had a good run and it all came down to the last game with Germany and unfortunately, we lost it badly.
Fantasy and perhaps not an entirely serious question – if the Dutch national team would compete in one group with the three Baltic states, which position would you finish?
Oh, yes, this is an interesting one (laughs). I remember our game against Lithuania, and they have a really strong team, so... I would say we would be in second place behind Lithuania.
The Triobet BBL week of basketball is still in play, with one more game tomorrow, so let’s take the time out to catch up what’s been going on in other European competitions our clubs are participating in. BBL.net presents you the weekly round-up of European Competitions.
The final round of the EuroCup 7Days Regular Season ended in another loss for Lietkabelis, as they were shooting blanks against Herbalife Gran Canaria. The 73-92 final score could have been much different if it weren’t for a horrendous third quarter. Halfway through the game, it was still just a 2-point game, but the Spaniards turned on a higher gear after the break and left Lietkabelis behind.
VTB United League
Kalev/Cramo suffered their fourth consecutive loss, as they were forced to a 90-99 loss against Enisey. The Estonians really missed any sort of bench production, as the starters accounted for 80 of their points. They seemed to just have run out of steam in the final quarter and that was their sixth win in eight contests.
Basketball Champions League
One of Juventus’ biggest losses of the season came at the hands of SIG Strasbourg, as the Lithuanians were blown out of the water and suffered a 61-86 defeat in Rhenus Sport Arena. The team crumbled in the second quarter, as a 1-point spread quickly skyrocketed to 18 in just ten minutes. The visitors weren’t helped by horrendous shooting from beyond the arc, as they made merely 12 percent of their long-range shots.
Ventspils didn’t have too much luck either, as they were defeated by German club EWE Baskets. The final score signaled a 14-point 73-87 victory for the Oldenburg side, as they amassed their lead mostly in the first quarter, winning it by double digits, 26-13.
Juventus and Ventspils now stand at records of 5-3 and 3-5, respectively.
LIEPAJA – The second game of the night provided us a bit more drama, as Barsy visited Liepaja/Triobet on Thursday evening. The Kazakhs made a great attempt at an upset with a huge comeback in the third quarter, but it was Liepaja/Triobet eventually taking the deserved 75-89 win.
Liepaja/Triobet came out of the locker room some really good defense, keeping the basket closed for almost half of a quarter. That helped them amass their early 10-2 lead, which soon moved into double-digits.
For most of the second quarter it was a level fight, as Barsy came closer, but the final minutes were all about Liepaja. They managed to put up a good run and advanced their lead to 14.
The current situation didn’t stick too well with the Kazakhs, as they mounted a great comeback, wiping away everything Liepaja/Triobet worked so hard to get – 7 minutes into the third quarter, it was already Barsy up ahead.
The two teams entered the final segment of the game on level terms, tied at 64, and Liepaja were quick to show their intentions – a 15-4 run to start the quarter gave them all the tools for victory, as the closed the game in a calm manner. Barsy captain Mikhail Yevstigneev, couldn’t keep his cool on the other hand, and fouled out after a technical foul followed an unsportsmanlike foul. Final score: 89-75 for Liepaja.
Lateef Mcmullan was the highest scorer for the Latvian side with 19 points and 7 assists, but it was Malcolm Griffin who stole the spotlight, as he was just two assists shy of a triple-double. 18 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists for the guard in an impressive showcase of skill. Artjoms Butjankovs was also solid with 14 points and 8 rebounds to his name.
For Barsy Atyrau, Trevin Parks had another strong outing, as he was the game’s highest scorer with 22 points. The aforementioned Vadim Matyukevich was also solid before fouling out, as he had 18 points and 6 rebounds. Pavel Micheev chipped in with 12 points.
JEKABPILS – Another crushing defeat for Borisfen, this time at the hands of Jekabpils. The Belorussians continue to struggle to put up a fight against any opponent and had to face the consequences – it was a huge 46-94 win for the home side, pushing their record to 6-2.
You could say Jekabpils got all their building blocks for a win ready in the first quarter, as they left their opponents dazed and confused with an enormous run in the second half of the first quarter. The Latvians were still down by two points at the 5 minute mark, but forced six turnovers in the next five minutes and finished the quarter high on an 18-0 run.
Borisfen might have hoped the start of the second quarter would bring in a fresh breeze, but Jekabpils didn’t become complacent and expanded the run to 29-1. At that time it was apparent, there was no return from a 27-point deficit for Borisfen.
The margin reached 30 points by the end of the third quarter, and the fourth was merely a formality, but Jekabpils made sure they had some fun. They made 4 three-pointers to stretch the lead to 42 three minutes into the final period and finally reached the 50-point mark with seconds to go in the game.
Jurijs Aleksejevs had a great night, scoring 16 points, while also adding 9 rebounds and 4 assists to the tally. Kristaps Miglinieks added another 16 points, while Janis Antrops and Edgars Stelmahers scored 13 points apiece. Roberts Stumbris ended the game with 12.
Maksim Kozlovets was the only player to stand out in Borisfen’s line-up, as he had 12 points.
OGRE – With a new basket in place, Ogre/Kumho Tyre hoped they could respond well to last week’s technical loss with a win against one of Group B leaders, Valmiera. However, after a tough fight, they had to face defeat for the third time, losing 65-71.
The home side looked strong in the opening stages of the game. Despite Valmiera getting off to a 7-2 start, Ogre quickly overtook their opponents with three unanswered baskets. They closed out the quarter in style and went into the second quarter five points ahead.
A three-pointer to open the quarter helped Ogre/Kumho Tyre amass an 8-point margin, which the held on for half a quarter. However, just a few good plays later, it was very swiftly blown away. Valmiera/ORDO won the quarter by three and it was just a 2-point spread at halftime.
The visitors finally managed to retake the lead mid-way through the third quarter, but a 13-2 run for Ogre put them back ahead, this time by a game-high 10 points. As we got used to, the lead didn’t stick for long…
Six points was the margin with ten minutes to go, and just one point separated the two teams another 84 seconds later. The game looked to be turning into a thriller, but Valmiera/ORDO managed to get a couple plays going for them and amassed a six-point lead, not giving the home side too much of a chance to fight back.
RIGA – Another great victory pushes Barons kvartals record to 5-2, as they coasted past Jurmala/Fenikss with an 86-64 result to rise up the standings in Group A.
The first quarter predicted no drama, as the home side immediately rocketed ahead. They shot at a high percentage and managed to double-up over Jurmala/Fenikss, the lead standing at 26-13 after one quarter.
Jurmala/Fenikss tried coming back into the game as soon as possible, going off to a 9-2 run in the first half of the quarter, but turnovers kept pushing the team down. They turned the ball over 7 times in just the second quarter and that allowed Barons kvartals to build back their lead to 16 points.
The visitors once again made a small run at the lead, but seven points in a row only gets you that far. After trimming the lead to 11, turnovers once again led to an immediate response from Barons.
Before the final quarter started, Tyler Larson banged in a last-second three-pointer to take the game to a 20-point spread, and it looked to be over right there.
Barons kvartals added to their lead and ended up winning the game by 22 points.
Roberts Freimanis was the key player for Barons kvartals tonight with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 5 steals to his name, while Kristaps Mediss added another 16 points, including 3-of-4 from downtown. The Lithuanian duo of Tauras Jogela, who recorded 14 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, and Denis Krestinin, who had 11 points and 9 rebounds, was once again rolling with steam, while Tyler Larson added another 11 points to the tally.
Only two players reached double digits in scoring for Jurmala/Fenikss, as Edgars Jeromanovs led the way in scoring despite his woeful 4-of-13 FG shooting, with 13 points in his account. Marcis Saulitis added 10 points to the tally, while Viktors Iljins wasn‘t too far away from a double-double, with 8 points and rebounds each.