LIEPAJA – Playing with comfortable 24-point security blanket from the first leg, Liepaja/Triobet advanced to the Quarter-Finals after taking care of Tarvas 93-87 after a strong fourth quarter display at home in Latvia on Tuesday evening.
While the game itself was tightly contested, the outcome of the tie was never in doubt, with Liepaja/Triobet head coach Uvis Helmanis running a tight ship.
The hosts got off to a slightly better start, taking a 25-21 edge after the opening period. The team form Liepaja stayed in front throughout the second quarter as well, but the gap between the sides was marginal.
In the second half, Tarvas made a couple of attempts to close the gap, but Liepaja/Triobet always had a response down their sleeve, as they wrapped up the game with ease.
Kristopher Richard was impressive for the hosts with 34 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while David Hicks was the only other player for Liepaja/Triobet in double figures with 13 points to his name.
For Tarvas, newcomer Brandis Raley-Ross had a team-high 23 points, Reinis Strupovics scored 21 points and dished out seven assists, while David Haughton collected 10 points and 11 rebounds.
JEKABPILS – Having finished the first leg of the Eight-Final tie against AVIS Rapla with a 14-point deficit, Jekabpils were faced with a difficult situation. However, the Latvian side used home court advantage to use, taking a 93-65 victory at home on Tuesday to progress to the Quarter-Finals.
The host set the tone early, opening a double-digit lead after the first quarter at 26-15, but it was really the second period that hurt AVIS Rapla the most. The Estonians combined for only six points as a team, while Jekabpils dropped 32 on the other end.
Having entered the halftime break with a 37-point deficit and down by 23 on aggregate at 58-21, it was now AVIS Rapla who found themselves in a difficult situation. After a modestly successful third quarter, the Estonian deficit cut the gap to 25 points, but couldn’t get much further than that.
Tyler Larson had a team-high 21 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and five steals off the bench for Jekabpils, Modestas Kumpys and Rinalds Sirsnins scored 18, while Sandis Silavs contributed with 17 points.
For AVIS Rapla, Devin Brooks collected 25 points, Maurice Leroy Kemp Jr had 13 points and six rebounds, while Indrek Kajupank chipped in with 10 points.
In the next round, Jekabpils will face the winner of the tie between Siauliai and Port of Parnu, with the Lithuanian club holding a commanding lead after the first leg at home.
TARTU – TU/Rock became the first team to book a place in the Triobet BBL Quarter-Finals after successfully overcoming Barsy in the Eight-Final stage. The Estonian side followed up a 28-point victory in the first leg of the tie with a 99-74 win on Wednesday to get past the first round of Play-Offs unscathed.
The sizable victory margin from the first leg allowed TU/Rock to play without any pressure and it definitely showed on the scoreboard, with Barsy putting up a much closer fight this time round.
However, the illusion did not last long, with the Tartu club going from an eight-point deficit to a 48-38 lead in the second quarter in a matter of minutes.
The second half was more reminiscent of the first leg, with TU/Rock sailing away with an easy victory.
JURMALA – There was no separation to be found between Jurmala/Fenikss and Lietkabelis, who finished the first leg of their Triobet BBL Eight-Final tie all even at 88-88 in Latvia on Wednesday.
This was by far the closest match-up of all of the Eight-Finals. Only one other game finished with a single-digit margin.
The first quarter panned out better for the visitors, with Lietkabelis taking a 25-22 lead after the opening 10 minutes of play. However, Jurmala/Fenikss were breathing down the necks of their Lithuanian opponents throughout the first half and jumped out in front 47-45 at the half.
The see-saw battle continued into the second half. The hosts were doing better for most of the third quarter, but Lietkabelis came back to tie things up at 71-71 before the final frame.
The fourth quarter was equally intense, with both sides tip-toeing together until the very final seconds of the first leg.
Maris Ziedins had a team-high 19 points for Jurmala/Fenikss, the team’s captain Edgars Jeromanovs collected 18 points and dished out five assists, while Ugis Pinete chipped in with 12.
For Lietkabelis, Mile Ilic led the game in scoring with 20 points and also had eight rebounds, Jurica Zuza collected 13 points, while Arnas Labuckas finished the game with 12 points.
TALLINN – Valmiera/ORDO took care of business in the first leg of the BBL Eight-Final against TLU Kalev, as they cruised to an 84-66 away victory on Wednesday evening.
Neither side came out of the gates firing, so halfway through the first quarter only two points separated the two teams. However, Valmiera managed to end the period on a higher note and were up ahead by seven.
The Estonians closed in before halftime and it wasn’t until the third quarter that Valmiera were finally able to run away with a double-digit advantage.
The hole just grew deeper, and the margin reached 20 points mid-way through the quarter, as TLU Kalev were unable to respond to the Latvian barrage.
TLU Kalev now face an uphill battle, as they visit Valmiera on the 24th of February with an 18-point deficit for the return leg.
Armands Skele was the top scorer for the Latvian side, as he accounted for 19 points. Martins Laksa added 18 to the tally, while Lauris Blaus ended the game with 14 points. Janis Kaufmanis was good for 11 points.
Johnny Berhanemeskel was by far the top contributor for TLU, as he tallied 20 points for the home side. Ivo Van Tamm was the only other player in double-digit scoring for TLU Kalev, as Dominykas Milka ended the game with 9 points and rebounds each.
RAKVERE – Liepaja/Triobet seems to have taken care of the Eight-Final series in the first leg alone, as they bashed Tarvas after an outstanding second quarter to take home a 74-50 victory from Rakvere .
It was truly a nip-and-tuck first quarter, as there were six lead changes, with Tarvas ahead by one after ten minutes.
However, everything stopped working for the hosts in the second quarter, as they seemed to be powerless in nearly every possession. That allowed Liepaja/Triobet to win the quarter 28-13 and enter halftime with a 14-point advantage.
It turned from bad to worse from then on, as Arnolds Helmanis quickly pushed the margin to 19 for Liepaja. While Tarvas managed to cut the deficit to 15 mid-way through the final quarter, Gints Antrops put the game out of reach with three consecutive three-pointers in under a minute.
Gints Antrops made a living from downtown, as he converted on 6-of-14 long-range shots for a total of 20 points. Janis Antrops added 12 to the tally, while Ingars Aizpurs ended the game with 11. Arnolds Helmanis was a point a way of a double-double, as he secured 9 points and 12 rebounds.
David Haughton was the lone Tarvas’ player in double-digit scoring, as he had 10 points and 9 rebounds. Reinis Strupovics and Brandon Goode both had 9 points, while the latter also corralled 9 rebounds.
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.