Ronaldas Rutkauskas become the last monthly MVP of the 2015-16 Triobet BBL Regular Season, as the 23-year-old Lithuanian big man was awarded Player of the Month honors for January.
The starting center of Jekabpils was the biggest contributor for his side, who enjoyed a successful month, winning three games out of four to finish Group B play in third place with a 7-5 record.
During the month, Rutkauskas averaged 15.5 points, 11 rebounds, 1.3 steals and an efficiency ranking of 25.3 on impressive 74% shooting from the field.
His best performance came against Barsy on January 10, when the player recorded a monstrous double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds, shooting 4-of-5 from the field and 9-of-10 from the free-throw stripe.
There were only five games of action in the final week of the Triobet BBL Regular Season, but it was a classic case of quality over quantity, as four of them were decided by single digits. Let’s take one final look at how the first part of the season culminated!
WAITING. After four months of action, the 2015-16 Triobet BBL Regular Season came to a conclusion on Wednesday evening. However, teams will have to wait for FIBA Europe Cup Round of 32 to finish to find out Play-Off pairings. The fate of Barsy, Port of Parnu and TTU lies in the hands of teams participating in the FIBA Europe Cup.
FIBA EUROPE CUP. Heading into the final week of action in the FIBA Europe Cup Round of 32, all four Baltic teams have theoretical chances of advancing to the Round of 16. Ventspils and Juventus control their own destiny, Pieno Zvaigzdes would need some luck to advance, while TU/Rock would need an even bigger stroke of luck to make it through.
TOP SPOT. Although the injury-riddled Vytautas have been trending down towards the end of the Regular Season, the Lithuanians came over adversity to scrape by past Tarvas 82-76 in the last Group B game for both sides. Having finished group play with a stellar 11-1 record, Vytautas were the best team in the Regular Season, but health issues remain a big issue for the Prienai club heading into the Play-Offs.
SECOND. Valmiera/ORDO won the clash for second place in Group A, topping AVIS Rapla 66-57 in a low-scoring game in Estonia. The Rapla side would have needed to win by at least by more than 31 points in order to pass the Latvians, but Roberts Stelmahers’ team made sure that was never a possibility, as the grinded out a victory on the road.
LEAVING IT LATE. The scenario in which Nevezis would have been facing the Play-Offs from the outside in was not that far-fetched, but the Lithuanian side averted it by earning an 82-76 victory against Port of Parnu in the last day of action. A loss would have seen the team from Kedainiai finish last in Group A. However, the win allowed Nevezis to finish fifth in the group, having won a tie-breaker with Barons/LDz.
INDIVIDUAL AWARDS. After four months of intense battle on basketball courts across the three Baltic countries in Triobet BBL, we already know not only the best teams in both groups, but also the best players in the main statistical categories. Andrew Warren won the scoring title with an average of 25.6 points per game, Stephan Zack led the league in rebounds with 11 boards per game, while Rait-Riivo Laane was the best assist-man with 6.6 dimes per game.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK. Ronaldas Rutkauskas of Jekabpils had the best performance of the week, scoring 18 points, grabbing nine rebounds and coming up with three steals for a total efficiency ranking of 28 in a 100-82 win against Tarvas.
After four months of intense battle on basketball courts across the three Baltic countries in Triobet BBL, we already know not only the best teams in both groups, but also the best players in the main statistical categories.
The top players of the Regular Season will be honored with individual awards for leading the league in points, rebounds and assists.
Andrew Warren won the Triobet BBL scoring title, with an average of 25.6 points per game during his time with Port of Parnu. Although the Estonian club did not see much success this season, the 28-year-old guard had a very good season individually. After receiving an offer from Sigal Prishtina during the Christmas break, Warren left the Parnu club and moved to Kosovo.
No one in Triobet BBL was even close to challenging the American as the best scorer in the league, with Canadian guard Johnny Berhanemeskel averaging almost seven less points at 18.8 per game.
Liepaja/Triobet’s big man Stephan Zack was the only player in the league to average double-digits in rebounding with 11 boards per game. The 23-year-old American was one of the key players for the Latvian team, also collecting 12.3 points per game. Ronaldas Rutkauskas from Jekabpils finished second in the leaderboard with 9.1 rebounds, while AVIS Rapla center William Artino was third with 8.8 rebounds per game.
The race was much closer in the assist category, with TTU playmaker Rait-Riivo Laane beating out Jekabpils guard Rinalds Sirsnins by a small margin. The young 22-year-old Estonian was averaging 6.6 assists per game, while Sirsnins was close behind with an average of 6.0 assists per game.
With the Triobet BBL Regular Season already in the books, teams are now waiting for the final results in the FIBA Europe Cup to find out the full picture for the Triobet BBL Play-Offs. There is one game remaining in the Round of 32 for each of the Baltic clubs and all four have theoretical hopes of advancing.
While Ventspils and Juventus are entirely in control of their situation, TU/Rock and Pieno Zvaigzdes will have to rely on results in the other games of the group in order to make it through to the Round of 16.
Let us remind you that any Baltic teams that do not advance to the elimination round, will join Triobet BBL Play-Off battles.
Antwerp Giants 80-78 BK Ventspils
Ventspils came back from an 18-point deficit, but their efforts came short down the stretch, as the Latvian suffered its second loss in Group P, losing 80-78 on the road in Belgium to Antwerp Giants.
Experienced guard Kristaps Janicenoks scored 21 points on 5-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc, Damier Pitt added 18 points, while Maris Gulbis finished the game with 11 points for the visitors.
A win against the group’s last-placed team Lukoil Academic next week would open the door to the next round for Ventspils, who are currently second with a 3-2 record.
FoxTown Cantu 71-76 TU/Rock
After four duds to start the Round of 32, TU/Rock finally got a win, surprising FoxTown Cantu with a 76-71 upset away in Italy. The win allowed the Estonian side to keep theoretical chances of advancing out of the Group R.
Karolis Petrukonis had a team-high 18 points and six rebounds for TU/Rock, while Brian Harper and Tanel Sokk had 13 points apiece in the win.
In the last game in the group, the Tartu club would need to defeat Enisey in the region of 19 points or more and hope that Cantu can’t come up with a win against the group leaders Elan Chalon.
Cibona 82-84 Pieno Zvaigzdes
Lithuanian side Pieno Zvaigzdes also stayed in the hunt for a Play-Off spot after defeating the legendary Cibona club 84-82 in overtime on the road in the Croatian capital Zagreb in Group S.
Andriy Agafonov had a great game for the team from Pasvalys with 19 points and seven rebounds, Ramone Moore scored 18 points and grabbed eight boards, while Derrick Low chipped in with 13 points and five assists, but shot only 4-of-17 from the field.
In the best-case scenario, Pieno Zvaigzdes would need to Cibona to lose the last game to STB Le Havre, but a big win against Energia could also do the job, depending on the score in the other game.
Bakken Bears 81-93 Juventus
Cheered on by a large crowd of local Lithuanians, Juventus needed five extra minutes in Denmark to defeat Bakken Bears, but eventually got the upper hand, taking a 93-81 victory in Group T.
Spencer Butterfield was on fire with 23 points and eight rebounds, Laurynas Samenas collected 17 points, while Arminas Urbutis scored 14 points. Edgaras Zelionis double-doubled with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
A win against Khimik in the last game would allow Juventus to advance to the Round of 16. Otherwise, they would have to hope for Bakken Bears to register an upset against Mons-Hainaut in their game.
After four months of action, the 2015-16 Triobet BBL Regular Season came to a conclusion on Wednesday evening. However, teams will have to wait for FIBA Europe Cup Round of 32 to finish to find out Play-Off pairings.
For some clubs, the wait will be exceptionally anxious, as the number of Baltic teams that will qualify for the Round of 16 in the continental competition will determine how many places are left in the Triobet BBL Eight-Finals.
Let us remind you that Siauliai, Ventspils, Juventus, TU/Rock and Pieno Zvaigzdes were given direct places in the Triobet BBL Play-Offs. However, they will only participate if they are knocked out of the FIBA Europe Cup before the elimination stages.
The remaining places in the Play-Offs will be given to teams placed 1st–5th in each group and the best 6th placed team. To determine the best 6th placed team, or any extra Play-Off spots, the number of points in each group, goal difference, number of goals, in decreasing importance, will be considered.
In determining Play-Off pairs, last season’s ranking will apply to the teams participating in the FIBA Europe Cup. As champions, Siauliai will get the lowest-ranked opponent, Ventspils, Juventus, TU/Rock and Pieno Zvaigzdes would be seeded second, third, fourth and fifth on the list respectively.
All other teams qualified for the Triobet BBL Eight-Finals will be classified from 1st place to last place according to 1) their place in the group; 2) total number of points; 3) goal difference; 4) number of goals difference. This qualification will be used to determine Play-Off pairings, with remaining highest ranked teams matched with lowest ranked teams.
In all Play-Off stages, the competition will be conducted in a two-game home and away format, with the team with the best aggregate score advancing to the next round.
Teams with a higher ranking after the Regular Season will play the second game of their Play-Off match-ups at home, excluding Siauliai, Ventspils, Juventus, TU/Rock and Pieno Zvaigzdes. These five teams will play the first game at home. If two of them are playing in the same BBL Semi-Final, the team with the higher ranking will play the second game at home.
The full schedule of Triobet BBL Play-Offs will be known on February 4 after the results in FIBA Europe Cup are confirmed.
Starting from the Eight-Final round, some games will be broadcasted on Viasat Sport Baltic.
PRIENAI – Vytautas finished the 2015-16 Triobet BBL Regular Season as the best team in the league after finishing their Group B campaign with a 63-56 victory against Tarvas at home in Prienai on Wednesday.
The Lithuanian side finished the group stage of the competition with a league-best 11-1 record, despite being bothered by injuries throughout the season. Meanwhile, the Estonian club finished fourth in Group B, with a 6-6 mark.
Having previously secured the top spot in the group, Vytautas coach Virginijus Seskus limited the minutes of his key players, but still came out victorious.
It was the guests who got off to a better start, winning the first quarter 19-16, but the hosts did not allow the lead to get out of hand, going up by a single point at the halftime break at 38-37.
A 17-7 third quarter allowed Vytautas to establish control of the game and could afford an eight-point fourth quarter with second unit players, getting the win that gave the best Regular Season ranking in the league.
Paulius Ivanauskas was the only player for the winners in double figures with 13 points, Vytautas Sulskis scored eight nine points, while Kajus Okmanas, Laimonas Kisielius and Dainius Salenga had eight points each.
For Tarvas, Roberts Stumbris had a game-high 16 points, Reinis Strupovics collected 13 points, while Brandon Goode finished the game with 10 points and nine rebounds.
KEDAINIAI – On the last day of the Triobet BBL Regular Season, Nevezis grabbed a ticket to the Play-Offs after securing fifth place in Group A with an 82-76 home victory against Port of Parnu in Kedainiai on Wednesday evening.
The hosts led from start to finish and finished group play with a 4-8 record, while the visitors from Parnu could not climb out of the bottom and ended up seventh with a 2-10 mark.
After getting off to an excellent beginning, Nevezis led 18-6 already six minutes into the game. Although Port of Parnu quickly erased the double-digit figure, they were always one step behind.
Leading 44-33 at the halftime break, the hosts allowed the visitors to get within three points in the fourth quarter, but eventually sealed the win from the free-throw line.
Darius Gvezdauskas had 18 points for the winners, the big man in the middle for Nevezis, Mindaugas Kupsas, finished the game with 17 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, while Taylor King collected 12 points and nine boards.
For Port of Parnu, Mark Dorris finished with a game-high 26 points, Robert Valge added 17 points, while Paulius Petrilevicius chipped in with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
RIGA – Barons/LDz grabbed a solid home victory against TLU Kalev to finish the Triobet BBL Regular Season on a positive note, defeating the visitors from the Estonian capital 94-88 at the Daugavas Sporta Nams on Wednesday.
The Latvian club finished sixth in Group A with a 4-8 record and can be sure of a place in the Play-Offs. TLU Kalev, 6-6, finished group play in fourth place, having booked a Play-Off ticket in advance.
The hosts were the better team right from the get-go, taking a 25-16 lead after going on a 6-0 run to finish the first quarter. Barons/LDz increased the gap to 52-42 at the halftime break, with Salvis Metra and Arturs Ausejs leading the way for the home side.
Although the Riga team could not pull away any further, their advantage stayed around the 10-point margin, with TLU Kalev mounting a couple comeback efforts, all of which fell short.
Ausejs finished the game with a team-high 21 points for the winners, Roberts Freimanis had 18 points and five assists, while Metra added 16 points and five assists. Jason Calliste chipped in with 15 points and nine rebounds
For TLU Kalev, Dominykas Milka had a game-high 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Johnny Berhanemeskel collected 20 points, while Zach Atkinson finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.
JEKABPILS – Good mood was all around at the Jekabpils Sporta Nams, as Jekabpils defeated the visiting Tarvas 100-82 to finish the Regular Season with a 7-5 record, which guaranteed them third place in Group B.
Tarvas dropped to a 6-5 mark and have a game in hand, but have a negative head-to-head score against Jekabpils, having won the first meeting by a smaller margin, 74-64. However, an extra win could have a significant implications on Play-Off seeding.
Although the visitors from Rakvere started the game better and took a 21-15 lead after the first quarter, Jekabpils fired back with a huge performance in the second period. Having won the frame 35-19, the host took the upper hand and never looked back.
Up 50-40 at the interval, the home side increased the gap to 16 points before the final ten minutes of play and cruised the rest of the way.
The quartet of Rinalds Sirsnins, Sandis Silavs, Ronaldas Rutkauskas and Arturs Duselis collected 71 of the team’s points. Sirsnins was the top scorer with 19, Silavs and Rutkauskas scored 18 apiece, while Duselis added 16.
For Tarvas, Latvian guard Reinis Strupovics had a game-high 30 points, David Haughton added 12 points and nine rebounds, while Roberts Stumbris and Brandon Goode had 11 points each.
RAPLA – Valmiera/ORDO wrapped up second place in Group A with a 66-57 road victory against AVIS Rapla in what was the last game of the Triobet BBL Regular Season for both sides on Tuesday evening in Estonia.
The Latvian team finished group play with a 9-3 record, while AVIS Rapla, 7-5, could drop to as low as fourth in the standings if TLU Kalev win against Barons/LDz on Wednesday.
Valmiera/ORDO started the game well, taking a 19-12 lead after the opening quarter, and were up 28-22 at the end of a very low-scoring first half of the game.
For most of the third quarter, AVIS Rapla were breathing down the necks of their opponents, but the Latvian side managed to stay ahead, carrying a 47-43 advantage into the final frame.
Like for most of the game, Valmiera/ORDO relied on defense in the fourth quarter to bring them success. On the other end, Lauris Blaus was doing quite a bit of damage, as AVIS Rapla failed to contain him.
Having extended the gap to double figures with five minutes left, the guests stayed in control until the final whistle and finished the Regular Season on a positive note.
Blaus finished the game with a team-high 14 points and also had six rebounds, while Armands Skele and Davis Rozitis chipped in with 11 points each.
AVIS Rapla big man William Artino collected 15 points and 11 rebounds, Ingus Kajupank scored 13 points, while Devin Brook had 10 points.