SIAULIAI – Siauliai, the number one seed of the Triobet BBL Play-Offs, started their Baltic campaign relatively slow, but eventually overcame Port of Parnu to win the first leg of the Eight-Final tie 101-61 at home in Lithuania on Wednesday.
The fact that the visitors from Parnu, who grabbed the last remaining Play-Off ticket, took the lead in the first quarter was somewhat surprising, with Mait Kabin’s side finishing the first quarter with a 27-21 lead.
A couple of minutes into the second period, Siauliai were trailing by eight points, but went on a lengthy 25-5 run to turn the game upside down. The hosts were already up 51-40 by the time for the halftime break.
The 11-point lead skyrocketed after the interval, with Siauliai cementing their position in the next round even before the second game, as the gap grew to 40 points before the final buzzer.
RAPLA – AVIS Rapla started their Triobet BBL Play-Offs on a positive note, taking a 79-65 victory against the visiting Jekabpils in the first leg of the Eight-Final tie at home in Rapla on Tuesday evening.
Rapla will definitely be happy about a 14-point lead, but a Jekabpils revenge in a couple of weeks’ time in Latvia might be unlikely, but it is definitely not off the cards just yet.
Teams went toe-to-toe in the opening quarter, but a superb defensive performance in the second period allowed AVIS Rapla to break away. Having conceded only four points during the 10-minute span, the Estonians went into the halftime break with a 38-23 advantage.
However, Jekabpils steadied the ship after the interval and closed the gap to 54-47 before the final quarter of play. But Devin Brooks took over the game for AVIS Rapla in the fourth quarter, with the hosts finishing the meeting strong and restoring a double-digit lead.
Brooks had a double-double of 25 points and 12 rebounds with six assists and four steals for the Estonian team, Sven Kaldre and Indrek Kajupank added 11 points each, while Thomas van der Mars chipped in with 10.
For Jekapbils, Rinalds Sirsnins had a team-high 20 points, while Tyler Larson finished the game with 16 points, with no other Jekabpils player reaching double figures.
KEDAINIAI – The league-best record in the Triobet BBL Regular Season does not guarantee automatic success in the Play-Offs, as Vytautas wasted a double-digit lead and almost fell short against Nevezis, winning the first leg of the Eight-Final only 83-78 on the road in Kedainiai on Tuesday evening.
The start of the game seemed to suggest that coach Virginijus Seskus and his team were in store for a relatively easy game. Having built a 27-17 advantage after the first quarter of play, the guests finished the half up by 12 points at 54-52.
Having momentarily increased the lead to 18 points after the interval, Vytautas players let their guard down, allowing Nevezis to mount a big comeback. The hosts trimmed the deficit to 68-61 by the end of the third quarter and continued to chip away in the final period.
An 11-2 run by Kedainiai allowed them to go up 72-70 with seven minutes remaining, but Vytautas quickly regained the upper hand, winning the game with a not-at-all convincing five-point margin.
Laimonas Kisielius was very close to a triple-double with 22 points, nine rebounds and nine assists for Vytautas, while Vytautas Sulskis chipped in with 21 points, five boards and four assists. The players also added four steals each.
Meanwhile, Darius Gvezdauskas dropped 17 points to lead the hosts in scoring, while big man Mindaugas Kupsas finished the game with 16 points. No one else reached double figures for Nevezis.
PASVALYS – After a strong finish to the Triobet BBL Regular Season, Barons/LDz could not keep up the momentum, as Pieno Zvaigizdes took care of the Latvian side handily, registering a 110-84 victory in the first leg of the Eight-Final tie on Tuesday in Lithuania.
The Lithuanian side led by as many as 13 points in the first quarter and finished the opening period up 32-21 after a good offensive performance. For the rest of the first half, the play more or less evened out, but Pieno Zvaigzdes retained a firm lead, with a 58-47 advantage heading into the interval.
Led by Zygimantas Skucas, the Pasvalys side sealed the win in the third quarter, running away to a cosmic margin and setting themselves for a very easy return leg in Riga in a couple of weeks.
Skucas had a game-high 24 points to go along nine rebounds for the winners, Osvaldas Olisevicius scored 16 points and grabbed six boards, while Derrick Low added 15 points and six assists.
For Barons/LDz, Arturs Ausejs went 10-of-13 from the field for a total of 23 points, with Kristaps Gluditis scoring 18 points.
The second leg of the tie will be played in Riga on February 24, but, realistically, the chances for Barons/LDz to win by more than 26 points are limited to theory.
TARTU – TU/Rock started the Triobet BBL Play-Offs with a big statement, steamrolling the visiting Barsy side 105-77 in the first leg of the Eight-Final tie at home in Tartu against the Kazakh side on Monday evening.
Eliminated from the FIBA Europe Cup in the Round of 32, the Estonian side did not mess around with one of the less successful teams of the Regular Season and will head into the second game against Barsy with a 28-point advantage.
The hosts started the game strong and took and ran away to a double-digit lead already in the opening quarter, up 24-12 at the end of the first period. The lopsided play continued and TU/Rock increased their advantage to 53-33 by the halftime break.
Although Barsy managed to steady the ship in the second half and stopped the gap from skyrocketing further, there was little to be happy about, as the outcome of the tie was more or less decided even before the second game.
Brian Harper led the winners with 24 points and five rebounds, Gert Dorbek scored 20 points, grabbed six boards and dished out five assists, while Janar Talts added a double-double of 10 points and 13 rebounds.
For Barsy, Mikhail Yevstigneev had a team-high 23 points, Ryan Cook scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Dmitriy Gavrilov chipped in with 15 points and eight boards.
The second leg of the tie will also be played in Estonia in a couple of days on Wednesday, February 10.
The final picture of the Triobet BBL Play-Offs became clear after a dramatic end of the FIBA Europe Cup Round of 32. Ventspils and Juventus
advanced further in the continental competition, but TU/Rock and Pieno Zvaigzdes were knocked out and will join teams form the Regular Season and Siauliai in Triobet BBL Play-Offs.
We present you with the final ranking of clubs after the Triobet BBL Regular Season:
In accordance with Triobet BBL Regulations for the 2015-16 season, the clubs ranked from 1st to 16th places are qualified for the Triobet BBL Eighth-Finals.
This ranking is valid for determining pairs and home/away games in the Triobet BBL Eighth-Finals, Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and Finals.
Eighth-Finals will be held as follows (1st game: February 9th – 11th, 2016; 2nd game: February 23rd - 25th, 2016):
Teams with a higher ranking after the Regular Season will play the second game of their Play-Off match-ups at home, excluding Siauliai, TU/Rock and Pieno Zvaigzdes. These three teams will play the first game at home. If two of them are playing in the same Semi-Final, the team with the higher ranking will play the second game at home.
In the Eighth-Finals teams will play each other two times, home and away, with the overall cumulative score determining the winner of the pair.
The winners of the Eighth-Finals will qualify for the Quarter-Finals, while the losers of the Eighth-Finals will finish the competition.
Quarter-Finals will be held as follows (1st game: March 1st – 3rd, 2016; 2nd game: March 8th – 10th, 2016):
In the Quarter-Finals teams will play each other two times, home and away, with the overall cumulative score determining the winner of the pair.
The winners of the Quarter-Finals will qualify for the Semi-Finals, while the losers of the Quarter-Finals will finish the competition.
The BBL Semi-Finals will be held as follows (First game: March 15th – 17th, 2016; 2nd game: March 22nd – 24th, 2016):
In the Semi-Finals teams will play each other two times, home and away, with the overall cumulative score determining the winner of the pair.
The winners of the Semi-Finals will qualify for the BBL Finals for 1st-2nd places, while the losers of the Semi-Finals will qualify for the BBL Finals for 3rd-4th places.
The Triobet BBL Finals will be held as follows (First game: March 29th – 31st, 2016; 2nd game: April 5th – 7th, 2016):
In the BBL Finals, teams will play each other two times, home and away, with the overall cumulative score determining the winner of the pair.
The winner of Pair 16 will be named the 2015-16 Triobet BBL Champion.
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.