The off-season is done and Baltic basketball is already back on the table. With six games into the season, let’s round up the highlights of the opening week in the first edition of the Triobet BBL Weekly Review.
MVP. Thomas van der Mars edged out his opponents for the first Triobet BBL Player of the Week award with an outstanding performance against Nevezis. The AVIS Rapla big man torched his opponents with 23 points and added an impressive 13 rebounds to his stat-line, thus amassing an efficiency rating of 34.
YOUTH. It’s not every day that a team can proudly debut a U-16 player in a professional game, but Valmiera did just that... three times. In their season-opening win against Tarvas, coach Uvis Helmanis trusted two 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old in Davids Viksne, Ojars Berzins and Maris Ramanis. All three players even managed to open their scoring tabs.
DEBUT. Not all debuts were as pleasant this week, though. Ogre/Kumho Tyre seemed to be doing all the right things for two quarters and held a double-digit advantage at the break, yet managed to let the victory slip from their fingertips, as they lost to Jekabpils in overtime, 82-86.
FREE THROWS? Things could have been much easier for Jekabpils had they been more efficient from the free-throw line. The team shot a dreadful 44 percent, making just 11 of 25 shots, with Andrejs Selakovs taking most of the blame. However, despite making just 4-of-12 of his shots, Selakovs still managed to come out in third place efficiency-wise this week.
CLUTCH. Tauras Jogela delivered when it mattered most. After going silent for nearly two quarters, the Lithuanian banged in a go-ahead three-pointer with eight seconds in the game, thus giving Barons kvartals their first win of the season.
We’re looking at five more games next week with AVIS Rapla and Port of Parnu playing on Tuesday, while Wednesday is looking to be busy with another four matchups scheduled.
Six games of the 2016-2017 Triobet Baltic Basketball League are in the books, alongside the first week, and it turns out there was no one who could deliver better for his team than Dutch center Thomas van der Mars did.
RIGA – In what proved to be the game of the night, Barons kvartals was the more clutch time, performing when it mattered most. They outperformed Liepaja/Triobet in the final 20 seconds and ended up going home with a 75-70 victory to start their BBL campaign.
There wasn’t much separation between the two sides early on, but Barons kvartals did have a small advantage for most of the first quarter. Nevertheless, their lead peaked at 6 points before the visitors regained some ground.
The Riga side managed to open the second quarter with a strong run and soon held a solid 9-point advantage. Once again, Liepaja/Triobet came running back with a 12-0 run to jump ahead.
The two sides traded basket after basket after halftime and Barons kvartals held a single-point advantage entering the final ten minutes. A couple of consecutive baskets helped Liepaja/Triobet regain pole position, but even as time wounded down, there was no telling who would come out on top.
With 20 seconds on the clock and the score all tied up, Barons kvartals had posession and Tauras Jogela made a wide-open three-pointer to put his team up by three. The visitors had eight seconds to respond, but turned the ball over, allowing Denis Krestinin to hammer down a dunk in transition to put the final nail in the coffin.
The two Lithuanians responsible for the five final points, Denis Krestinin and Tauras Jogela, led the team throughout the game. Krestinin accounted for 20 points and 8 rebounds, while his countryman added 17 points and 9 boards. Davis Geks and Roberts Freimanis chipped in with 11 apiece, while Kristaps Dargais ended the game with 9 points.
On the losing side, it was Lateef Mcmullan taking responsibility on the offensive end. He scored 18 points, yet only made 5 of his 20 shots from the field. Ryan Cook added 13 points, while Devonta Pollard finished close to a double-double with 9 points and 9 rebounds.
RAPLA – It didn‘t take long for AVIS Rapla to wrap things up against visiting Nevezis, as they got hot early and that was enough to take them to a 91-77 win on Wednesday evening.
Leading all the way from the first minute to the very last, Rapla had no trouble finding the basket early on. The hosts scored 26 points in the first quarter and set themselves up with an eight point advantage after the initial ten minutes.
Things just got better after that, as a 13-1 run to open the second quarter allowed the Estonian side to amass an 18-point advantage just halfway through the game.
It seemed Nevezis managed to get things back on track, while Rapla's offense slowed down in the second half.
The Lithuanians managed to cut the deficit to 13 before the final quarter and finally reached a single-digit margin with five minutes left on the clock. They made a couple more runs at the home side, but it was ultimately Rapla finishing on top with a safe lead.
Thomas van der Mars put up a really strong performance, tallying a double double of 23 points and 13 rebounds. Domen Bratoz added 15 points and 6 assists, while Indrek Kajupank and Rashem Suarez scored 12 each, with the latter also adding 5 assists and rebounds. Martin Paasoja ended the game with 11 points and 8 assists, while Sven Kaldre added another 11.
On the other side, Paulius Petrilevicius was solid with 20 points, as Jermaine Love and Toni Prostran finished the game with 13 apiece. Love also added 8 rebounds and 5 assists to the totals.
PASVALYS – Pieno Zvaigzdes did not have to wait long for their first victory of the 2016-2017 Triobet BBL season, as they took care of TTU on home grounds, taking the 77-55 win.
It was a pretty close affair for most of the game, as the hosts barely held a 4-point advantage after the first quarter and added an extra point in the second.
Pieno Zvaigzdes couldn‘t really find too much separation in the third quarter either, but still gradually increased their lead to 8 points. Nevertheless, the breakthrough was bound to happen at some point, and there was no holding back once it did. The hosts ended the game with a dominant quarter, outscoring their opponents by 14 points and going on to win the game 77-55.
There were four players with double-digit scoring for the team from Pasvalys, as Osvaldas Olisevicius led the way with 15. Ignas Fiodorovas and Dennis Balentine chipped in with 14, while Vilmantas Dilys had 10.
On the losing side, Sten Olmre was the sole bright spot, as he led the team with 13 points and 6 rebounds. Joonas Jarvelainen added 8 points and 7 boards to the tally.
PARNU – Visiting Nevezis proved too strong for Port of Parnu, as they took initiative early and never looked back, coasting to a 77-62 victory on Tuesday evening.
It looked to become an exciting outing, as Port of Parnu managed to jump ahead in the early minutes, Nevezis chasing from behind and not really finding a good rhythm.
The visitors managed to get it running in the second quarter though, tied the game up and finally overtook their opponents. The visiting side now held a five point advantage at halftime.
They continued building on the good quarter and slowly built up a double-digit advantage. With no real threat to the lead, Nevezis raised the margin to mid-twenties and cruised to the finish line.
OGRE – It was not a good day for a debut in the Triobet BBL for home side Ogre/Kumho Tyre, as they managed to squander a double-digit lead and lost to Jekabpils 82-86 after 45 minutes of intense basketball.
The home team took the opening quarter by storm, as they already led by 12 with just six minutes of basketball played. Nevertheless, Jekabpils answered with 8 consecutive points and closed down on their opponents.
The two sides traded basket after basket and there was still no larger separation between the competitors at halftime, as Jekabpils faced a 7-point deficit. Ogre pushed ahead in the third quarter and maintained a double-digit advantage for most of the quarter, yet a terrific end to the quarter allowed the visiting team to close the gap to just 4 points.
A couple of consecutive baskets once again gave the hosts a ten point lead, but from then on it seemed everything started falling for Jekabpils. Three consecutive three-pointers from the visiting side turned the tables and put them in front by 3 with a minute on the clock. Ogre immediately responded with a three-pointer of their own and sent the game to overtime.
It was all Jekabpils in the extra minutes, as they quickly rose above and finished the game up four.
Andrejs Selakovs was a beast among the boards, as he tallied an impressive double-double of 18 points and 15 rebounds. Renars Magone, who ignited Jekabpils’ run in the fourth quarter, had 16 points to his name, while Rinalds Sirsnins finished the game with 14. Jurijs Aleksejevs came close to a double double with 11 points and 9 rebounds.
Janis Poznaks was the leading scorer for Ogre with 21 points to his name. Karlis Apsitis added 18 points, while Gints Antrops finished the game with 16.
VALMIERA – This year‘s Triobet BBL Cup winners Valmiera/ORDO showed no mercy in the season opener against Tarvas. The home side dominated throughout the game and grabbed a 85-52 win over the Estonians.
The hosts let Tarvas know they were not joking around from the very start. A number of successful plays led to a double-digit lead not even a quarter into the game. While the visitors managed to cut back the deficit slightly before the first period ended, it only got worse from there on.
A good end to the half helped Valmiera regain a double-digit advantage and created some breathing space. Two quarters in, it was a 39-26 lead for the Latvian side.
Valmiera/ORDO dominated the third segment of the game, converting on shot after shot to see their lead expand to an insurmountable 28 points, making the final period merely a formality.
Tarvas didn’t put up a fight in the fourth quarter either and ended up losing by a whopping 33 points.
Martins Laksa played a key role in the victory, as he led the team with 23 points and 8 rebounds. Rinalds Malmanis came off the bench to provide 12 points and 5 rebounds, while Ervins Jonats chipped in with 9 points and 6 boards.
None of the Tarvas men reached double-digits in scoring, as Siim Markus Post, Oliver Metsalu and Darryl Palmer had 9 points apiece.