Action in the 2016-17 Triobet BBL campaign will get under way a couple of weeks earlier than the official start of the Regular Season, as the strongest teams from all three Baltic countries will gather in Valmiera for the Triobet BBL Cup 2016.
SIAULIAI – Home fans in Siauliai were witnesses to history being made, as Siauliai overcame a sizeable first-leg deficit against TU/Rock to become only the second team ever in Triobet BBL to lift the tournament crown three years in a row.
The Lithuanian side celebrated a 102-76 victory in Siauliai after an excellent second half after losing the first game on the road in Tartu by seven points.
Siauliai forward Rokas Giedraitis was awarded the MVP of the Final series.
The visitors were not fazed by the rowdy atmosphere in the Siauliai arena and got off to a solid start, taking a 17-12 lead after a Gert Dorbek three-pointer seven minutes into the game. Siauliai didn’t allow TU/Rock to break away, but were indeed behind for most of the first half.
After two quarters of physical basketball, things were as they were at the start of the game, with teams level at 48-48.TU/Rock big man Karolis Petrukonis was unstoppable in the first half of the game, but had already had four fouls.
The halftime pep talk seemed to have been much more useful for Siauliai, who came out with noticeably higher levels of energy after the break. A barrage of three-pointers in the third quarter saw the hosts jump out to a 76-56 lead before the final quarter.
TU/Rock had to rely on three-point shooting to close the gap and while their shorts were falling, they couldn’t handle Cameron Ayers who rained fire from deep on the other end just as accurately.
While the time was ticking down faster and faster, the gap between the sides was not shrinking, allowing Siauliai to confidently march to their third Triobet BBL title in a row. A feat also accomplished only by Zalgiris.
PANEVEZYS – A remarkable comeback saw Lietkabelis erase a 16-point first-leg deficit at home in Panevezys to snatch the Triobet BBL bronze medals straight out of the hands of Valmiera/ORDO.
In an exciting game, the Lithuanian side triumphed 86-64.
The hosts started the game strong, taking a 15-8 lead six minutes into the game, but an incredible 7-point possession by Valmiera/ORDO erased the hard-fought edge Lietkabelis had managed to build with one swipe.
Nevertheless, the Lithuanians remained in control of the game and used a 10-0 run at the end of the second quarter to take a 47-37 over the visits at the halftime interval.
Things did not get much better for Valmiera/ORDO after the break, as Lietkabelis continued their dominant play in the second half and had increased their lead to as many as 17 points in the third quarter.
However, the visitors took a big bite into the Lithuanian side’s lead before the final frame, heading into the fourth quarter down 52-63 on the day, but still up on aggregate.
But it was simply a better day for Lietkabelis who went on another good stretch and took a 21-point lead with five minutes remaining and lasting the distance until the final buzzer.
Lietkabelis coach Kazys Maksvytis:"We are really happy. The gap was quite big, but we did play at home. We changed our game a little bit and made them play one-on-one more, which paid off. They made some difficult shots in the first half, but not anymore in the second half. We fought until the end and I'm happy that we've managed to win the first silverware of the season."
Valmiera/ORDO coach Roberts Stelmahers: "We played against a very good team, they were first in our group. We knew that 16 points in modern basketball doesn't mean anything. We came to Panevezys to play a tough game, but in sports things like this happen. We came up short today."
VALMIERA – Valmiera/ORDO made a big step towards a historic achievement for the club in Triobet BBL, taking game one of the bronze-medal series 90-74 against Lietkabelis at the Vidzeme Olympic Center on Wednesday.
It would be the first Triobet BBL medal for the Latvian side.
The return leg will be played in Panevezys on April 5, where the Lithuanian side will try to make up a 16-point deficit from the first game.
After a close opening quarter, Valmiera/ORDO shot ahead in the second period after a huge 18-0 run to start the frame. At this point in the game, the hosts were up 38-18, but strong end to the half allowed Lietkabelis to trim the gap to 42-32 at the halftime break.
The home side, who shot a very solid 10-of-21 from three-point range throughout the game, remained firmly in control after the interval as well, leading by double figures for most of the second half and winning the game by 16 points.
Martins Laksa was the top scorer for Valmiera/ORDO with 22 points to his name, Lauris Blaus added 14 points and nine rebounds, while Arturs Berzins and Aigars Skele collected 13 points apiece.
Meanwhile, Valdas Vasylius scored a team-high 16 points and notched down nine rebounds for Lietkabelis, Arnas Labuckas added 13 points, while Jurica Zuza and Zygimantas Janavicius both finished with 11.
TARTU – Still undefeated in the Triobet BBL Play-Offs, TU/Rock stretched their winning streak to seven games after taking an 81-74 victory against Siauliai in the first leg of the Finals at home in Tartu on Tuesday evening.
The defending back-to-back champions Siauliai will have ground to make up in the return leg in Lithuania, where they will try to erase a seven-point deficit next Wednesday on April 6.
The visitors got off to a better start and took a 20-13 lead after two made free-throws by Assem Marei late in the opening quarter. However, TU/Rock managed to turn it around and got up 40-36 at the halftime break.
The club from Tartu enjoyed the lead for most of the third quarter, although Siauliai tied it at 54-54 with a minute left in the third quarter. Only a single point separated the sides with two minutes left in the final frame, but the hosts finished on a tear, increasing the gap to eight points at the time of the final buzzer.
Janar Talts led the winners with 22 points and seven rebounds, Tanel Kurbas added 18 points and five boards, while Reinar Hallik collected 14 points.
For Siauliai, Assem Marei had a team-high 19 points and nine boards, Rokas Giedraitis added 15 points, while Mike Scott finished with 11 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Gediminas Petrauskas, head coach of Siauliai: "First of all, congratulations to Tartu city and team – very great atmosphere and excellent conditions. Thank you for putting up a show and of course the game was interesting for the fans to watch. Unfortunately, some mistakes we made in the end cost us the seven-point margin. Both the coaching staff and the players did not make the best decisions in the end and that cost us the seven-point difference. We have a difficult schedule – we will concentrate on LKL game on Sunday and after that can prepare for the second final game. Everything is still in our hands, seven points is not that a big difference, even though Tartu showed that they can play away as well. It is going to be an interesting game. Hopefully we will be good hosts and our fans will come and help put us up a good show as well."
Gert Kullamae, head coach of TU/Rock: "With this format of series we can not talk about a win, it was a tough first half. We were tactically prepared, things more or less worked and there were no big surprises. I feared before the game that we will lose the rebounding game and their big players will dominate under the basket. And that was exactly what happened, especially if we are missing Brian Harper. We have to analyze that. Today some players played very well, but we still have room for improvement. We have to play the last game with good energy and big hearts and then we’ll see what happens."
VALMIERA – TU/Rock joined Siauliai in the Triobet BBL Finals after overcoming Valmiera/ORDO in the Semi-Final series. After winning the first leg at home in Tartu by four points, the Estonian side came away with a 75-68 win on the road in Latvia on Wednesday.
Having won the Semi-Final tie by 11 points combined, TU/Rock will face Siauliai who defeated Lietkabelis on the other side of the bracket.
The Tartu club started the game on a positive note and ran away to a double-figure lead in the second quarter, entering the halftime break with a 47-35 lead.
Although Valmiera/ORDO made a comeback, slicing the deficit to a single point after an 11-0 run to start the third quarter. Having started the final frame with a 58-52 lead, TU/Rock managed to hold off their opponents to take the win, despite allowing the hosts to jump ahead at one point.
Evaldas Zabas had a team-high 18 points and four assists for the winners, Tanel Sokk added 17 points and also four assists, while Gert Dorbek chipped in with 11 points and six rebounds.
For Valmiera/ORDO, Armands Skele had a game-high 21 points, but turned the ball over five times. Aigars Skele added 12 points, while Martins Laksa had 11.
PANEVEZYS – Having started the Semi-Finals with a solid win at home, Siauliai paved their way to their third consecutive Triobet BBL Finals appearance after an equally convincing 91-79 victory against Lietkabelis in the away leg of the tie on Tuesday evening.
Coach Gediminas Petrauskas has accomplished quite a spectacular feat of making the final with almost an entirely revamped side, comparing to the one that won the previous two editions of the league.
Playing with the comfort of a 10-point first-leg lead after a 77-67 win last week, Siauliai were confidently in charge of the second game as well. After a relatively close first quarter, the visitors broke away to a 47-34 lead at the halftime break.
The gap had grown to as many as 20 points in the second half to decide the outcome of the tie well before the final buzzer. Although Lietkabelis did manage to cut the deficit to single digits in the final frame, it was all too little, too late.
David Dudzinski led the winners with 18 points and five rebounds, Cameron Ayers added 15 points, six assists and three steals, while Rokas Giedraitis chipped in with 14 points and three steals.
For Lietkabelis, Valdas Vasylius had 15 points and 10 rebounds off the bench, Zygimantas Janavicius chipped in with 14 points, while Simas Buterlevicius was the only other player in double figures with 10 points to his name.
SIAULIAI – The defending Triobet BBL champions Siauliai got one step closer to making another appearance in the Finals after coming away with a 77-67 victory against Lietkabelis in the first leg of the all-Lithuanian Semi-Final tie at home on Wednesday evening.
The return leg is schedule for Tuesday, March 22 and will be played in Panevezys, where Lietkabelis will try to eliminate a 10-point deficit using home court advantage.
The hosts caught Lietkabelis a little off-guard with a 15-6 start to the opening period, but a 10-0 run for the guests saw the game pendulum swing back into balance. Although Siauliai finished the period with a 20-18 advantage and were up 42-36 at the halftime break, it was very much an evenly-matched 20 minutes of basketball.
The hosts maintained a small edge in the third quarter as well before opening up a wider margin in the final frame. Although Lietkabelis were down only 60-58 with six minutes remaining, the home side went on a 9-2 run to increase the gap to nine points, with 2:54 left.
The final minutes of the game were also more favorable for Siauliai and a pair of Dave Dudzinski free-throws had extended the home side’s lead to a game-high 13 points, but Jermaine Love converted a last-second three-point play to cut the gap to 10.
Assem Marei was efficient in just over 20 foul-plagued minutes on the court, scoring 20 points and grabbing six rebounds for Siauliai. Cameron Ayres added 12 points and four boards, while Rokas Giedraitis also had 12.
For Lietkabelis, big man Mile Ilic was the top scorer with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds to go along three blocked shots. Simas Buterlevicius collected 11 points and five boards, while Julius Kazakauskas chipped in nine points and nine rebounds.
TARTU – The outcome of the Triobet BBL Semi-Final tie between TU/Rock and Valmiera/ORDO remains in the air after the first leg of the match-up ended in a close 68-64 win for the home side on Tuesday evening.
Yet to lose a game in the Play-Offs, the Estonian side will have a slender four-point cushion in the second game, which will be played in exactly a week’s time at the Vidzeme Olympic Center.
In a positive start of the game, TU/Rock rode the hot hand of Gert Dorbek, who collected 16 points in the first two quarters, to take a 42-33 lead at the halftime break, with the visitors struggling to find a rhythm offensively.
However, the double-digit lead the hosts held midway through the third period soon disappeared, as Valmiera/ORDO mounted a comeback to cut the deficit to 55-53 before the final frame.
Although the guests never took the lead, they did not allow TU/Rock to break away either, finishing the game with a manageable four-point deficit.
Dorbek finished the game with a game-high 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting, while Brian Harper and Tanel Sokk collected 13 and 10 points respectively.
For Valmiera/ORDO, Armands Skele had 16 points and seven boards, Kwamain Mitchell scored 13, while Lauris Blaus chipped in with 13 points.
Gert Kullamae, head coach of TU/Rock: "It was a tough game from both sides and as expected neither team gave anything away easily. We got in front by 10 points, but lost the rhythm after that. I’m pleased with our defense today. Altogether we have to be satisfied with the win and second half awaits in Valmiera. This could possibly become a one shot series – one shot can decide who will go to the Finals."
Roberts Stelmahers, head coach of Valmiera/ORDO: "It’s always nice, but hard to play in Tartu. I’m happy for the team that we came back from a ten-point deficit and showed character. Tartu used their strengths and are a good team that has played together for years. For home game we will have more fans and we’ll see how it goes in Valmiera."