The first round of the Triobet BBL Playoffs has already been completed and the number of remaining teams has been cut in half to just eight. Before we get going with the Quarterfinals, let’s take a look at what happened during the past week with the 17th volume of the Triobet BBL Weekly Review.
MVP. A victory and a Player of the Week performance for Jurijs Aleksejevs was not enough to keep Jekabpils in the race for the title. Aleksejevs missed just one shot, scoring 20 points and also added 12 rebounds, as the Latvian side defeated Nevezis 80-77.
SERIES-WINNER. Despite making a couple costly turnovers in the final quarter, Jermaine Love was the hero of the game, as he glided through the defense to score a series-winning lay-up with just a second on the clock. Although Nevezis lost 77-80, they had won the first leg by four and will now face University of Tartu in the Quarterfinals.
PAIRED. The four pairs of Quarterfinalists are clear, with three teams from Lithuania and Latvia each and two clubs from Estonia. Tartu will face off against Nevezis, Liepaja/Triobet will take on Pieno Zvaigzdes on one side of the Playoff tree. On the other side, Vytautas await Valmiera/ORDO, while Kalev/Cramo will test Barons kvartals.
COMEBACK. Going into the game with an eight-point deficit, many would have expected it to be tougher for Pieno Zvaigzdes to get back into the race, but they came up big against Ogre/Kumho Tyre, winning 97-64 and easily advancing to the next round.
RECORD. Regimantas Miniotas played his best game of the season, as he led Vytautas to a huge victory against Port of Parnu. The Lithuanian big man tore down 18 rebounds, thus tying the season record. He also dropped 12 points in the 89-54 win.
COMPLACENCY. Barons kvartals didn’t seem too motivated before their return leg of the Eight-Finals series against Jurmala/Fenikss, as they entered the game with a 31-point advantage. Jurmala/Fenikss thus managed to finish the season with a victory, despite being knocked out of the tournament.
Jurijs Aleksejevs had a magnificent night individually against Nevezis, as he led Jekabpils to a victory in the second leg of the series. Despite a Player of the Week performance to go with it, the victory was not as sweet as they had hoped for, as the Latvians were knocked out of the Play-offs.
Despite coming out on top 80-77 against Nevezis, Jekabpils were literally a second away from the Quarterfinals, as Jermaine Love glided through the defense for a last-second layup that made it +1 for the Lithuanians in the combined score of the series.
Aleksejevs proved to be a dominant force, missing just one shot in a 20-point night. The forward made both of his three-pointers and nailed 6-of-7 from closer in. He also added 12 rebounds to record his third double-double of the season.
He's been a true asset for Jekabpils all season long, leading the team both in scoring and rebounding with 14.8 and 8.7 averages, respectively.
You can see the shot that sent Jekabpils packing below:
TALLINN – While the outcome of the series was quite clear even before the second leg of the series, Kalev/Cramo made sure there was no complacency on their end. The Estonian powerhouse easily took another win against TTU, going up 92-72, and advanced to the next round of the Triobet BBL Playoffs.
Vitali Liutych had a terrific game, scoring 23 points and soaring to 7 rebounds to lead Kalev/Cramo to victory. Erik Keedus added 12 points to the tally, while Rain Veideman and Mark Tollefsen each contributed 11 points.
Three players scored 14 points apiece for TTU – Sander Saare, Toomas Raadik and Joonas Jarvelainen tied for the team‘s highest scorers. Nikola Vujovic added 13 to the tally, while Sten Olmre had 8. Only two other players managed to get on the scoring sheet for TTU.
RIGA – Despite an 80-82 loss today, Barons kvartals advanced to the Quarterfinals due to their prowess in the first leg of the series against Jurmala/Fenikss. The home side entered the game with a 31-point advantage and didn‘t seem too motivated to give it their best, resulting in a loss.
Barons were always the favorites of this match-up and they got a good start, advancing their lead to 8, ten minutes into the game. That put away any possible thoughts of a miraculous comeback to bed, and all Jurmala/Fenikss had left to fight for was honor.
And fight they did, chipping into the margin and making it a five-point game at the halftime break. The home side managed to get on a good run though and reached a game-high advantage of 12 points in the third quarter.
Nevertheless, Jurmala continued battling and were quickly getting back into the game with a great fourth quarter. Not only did they manage to put up a good fight, they ended up going ahead with numerous free-throws late in the game. A nice way to end the season with a victory.
Tyler Larson apparently had a green light to shoot, as he got 21 points on 17 field goal attempts. Davis Rozitis enjoyed a great night, as he tallied an impressive double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds, while also dishing out 4 blocks. Denis Krestinin ended the game with 12 points.
For Jurmala/Fenikss, Marcis Saulitis had a good day in the office, scoring 15 points, as the duo of Arturs Duselis and Edmunds Elksnis ended up with 14.
PASVALYS – Pieno Zvaigzdes showed no mercy for the only team that has beat them this season. Going into the game with an eight-point deficit, many would have expected it to be tougher for the Lithuanians, but they came up big against Ogre/Kumho Tyre, winning 97-64 to advance to the Quarterfinals.
Pieno Zvaigzdes took control of the game immediately, as the won the opening quarter 32-14, leaving the eight-point deficit from the first game a distant memory. The margin just grew, as Ogre were unable to do anything to stop their opponents.
The scoreboard showed a 48-25 lead for Pasvalys at halftime, meaning they already had a 15-point combined advantage. The final nails in the coffin were hammered in the third quarter, as the league‘s most prolific offense had another 30-point quarter, increasing the lead to an insurmountable 33 points.
The final quarter was merely a formality and the Lithuanians were happy to be advancing to the Quarterfinals, where they will face Liepaja/Triobet.
Evaldas Zabas was outstanding on the offensive end, scoring 20 points. Veteran Steponas Babrauskas added another 18 points, while Andriy Agafonov came off the bench to score 17. Osvaldas Olisevicius finished the game with 13 points.
Three players stood out for Ogre, with Kristaps Plavnieks and Rihards Zebergs scoring 13 points each. Guntis Sipolins ended the game with 12 points in his account.
KEDAINIAI – It was without a doubt the most intriguing end to a series we’ve seen in a long time, as two last-second shots made it an absolute thriller. Nevezis lost 77-80, but the final shot swayed the series against Jekabpils in their direction, as they had won the first leg by four.
It was truly a whirlwind of a game, as both the lead, and flow of the game changed hands back and forth. With a four-point advantage entering the game, Nevezis had a little bit more breathing room, but Jekabpils didn’t make it easy for them.
The Lithuanians got ahead 8-4 in a low-scoring opening of the game, but Jekabpils responded with a 13-2 run to overtake their opponents and push the advantage to seven.
It was then the other team making a run of their own in the second period – a five point deficit soon turned into a 27-21 lead for Nevezis. They maintained a good rhythm and entered halftime with a five point lead in the game, and a nine point lead in the series overall.
Once again, though, the seesaw rose the other way, and a an incredible performance by Rinalds Sirsnins and Andrejs Selakovs in the opening three minutes of the second half drove Jekabpils back into contention. The two combined for 11 consecutive points and put the visitors in the driving seat again for a while… Nevezis closed out the quarter well and were up by six before the final quarter, meaning Jekabpils had to overcome a 10-point deficit.
They nearly did exactly that, as just seconds separated them from victory. After a turnover, the finally got ahead by five, meaning they jumped in front in the combined scoreboard. However, Jermaine Love cold-heartedly sent a dagger their way, nailing a jumpshot to bring Nevezis back.
Vaidotas Volkus was the leading scorer for Nevezis, as he dropped 21 ponts. Karolis Petrukonis added another 14, while Paulius Petrilevicius ended up with 11 points. Toni Prostran continued working his magic passing the ball, as he delivered 12 assists and added 11 points to that for a complete performance.
Jurijs Aleksejevs was possibly the best performer today overall, scoring 20 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Pavels Veselovs chipped in with 17 points, while Rinalds Sirsnins contributed a double-double of 13 points and 11 assists. Janis Antrops ended the game with 10 points.
Photo: Triobet BBL director Romualdas Brazauskas awards Toni Prostran (the best player in the most assists category)
LIEPAJA – TLU Kalev didn’t have much going for them tonight, as they faced a second defeat at the hands of Liepaja/Triobet, losing the game 73-86, thus ending their short run in the Triobet BBL. They had lost the first leg of the series by 17 and needed a big turnaround to extend their season.
It looked as if it was going to turn into a nail-biter in the first quarter, as neither side was willing to give up any ground, and TLU still hoping to turn their luck around. However, a single-point advantage after ten minutes, wasn't quite the turnaround they needed.
However, all the hopes the Estonians might still have had were totally shattered in the second quarter, as Liepaja rose to a series-clinching run. Up by 9 at halftime, they already held a combined 28 point advantage.
The visitors struggled in the second half as well and the margin just rose. Time was running out and it turned out to become another great victory for Liepaja/Triobet.
Artjoms Butenkovs was the top performer of the game, scoring 23 points and tearing down 9 rebounds. Arturs Ausejs also found ways to the basket pretty easily, as he added 21 points, while Malcolm Griffin took care of the playmaking, accounting for 13 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds.
For TLU Kalev, Stefan Knezevic dropped 15 points and eight rebounds, Kaido Saks chipped in with 14, while both Dorde Dzeletovic and Reimo Tamm had 13 points. Kristo Saage ended the night with 10 points to his name.
PARNU – It was nothing we wouldn’t have expected in the second leg of the series, as Vytautas took another huge victory en route to the next round, defeating Port of Parnu 89-54 on their own home court.
Knowing that there was already a 45-point margin before the game, neither side seemed too motivated to play, but Vytautas made use of that and shot ahead 14-4. It went downhill for the home side from there on, as they continued to be bashed in every category of the game.
At halftime, the margin was double – 42-21 – and Parnu didn’t have much in them to turn the game around. The margin rose quickly and was already set at 30 before the final quarter even started.
Vytautas didn’t seem to be putting too much pressure on their opponents, knowing that both the game, and the series was already won, but they still managed to raise their lead, as it reached a game-high 35 points at the end of the quarter.
There were some outstanding performances across the boards, Regimantas Miniotas having one of those nights. While he wasn’t the top scorer, dropping 12 points, he influenced the game with his rebounding, as he tore down 18 (8 offensive) rebounds.
Seasoned veteran Tadas Klimavicius led the team with 18 points, while Paulius Ivanauskas nearly reached a double-double, scoring 14 points and assisting on 9 baskets. Domantas Seskus and Saulius Kulvietis had 11 points each.
Three players did most of the work for Parnu, as Saimon Sutt led the team in scoring with 14 points. Mihkel Kirves added 13 points and 10 boards, while Edvinas Seskus finished off with 11 points and 7 boards.
VALMIERA – The game in Valmiera was a little bit like a roller-coaster ride, as the margin went up and down, back and forth. However, it was the home side Valmiera/ORDO ultimately taking the 87-81 victory against AVIS Rapla and advancing to the Quarterfinals with a combined 19-point advantage.
It was a nip-and-tuck affair from the earliest stages in the game, as the lead changed hands six times in the first five minutes alone. The first tangible advantage Valmiera reached was six points but it was immediately rebuffed with three consecutive successful possessions by Rapla.
There was no separation in the first quarter, but it seemed that AVIS Rapla had the upper hand at the start of the second one, as they got off to an 8-0 start. That lead didn’t stand long though, as the Latvians responded with a 14-0 run to finish the quarter and go up by double digits.
The roller-coaster continued after the break, and it was now Rapla on the rise, as they got back into the game, bringing the deficit to just one point. With the 13-point deficit back from the first leg of the series, it was still a very steep hill to climb and Valmiera put any hopes and chances to bed with a terrific fourth quarter, going to win the game 87-81.
Martins Laksa had a great game for the winning side, as he dropped 23 points and chipped in with 6 boards and 4 assists. Despite his turnover problems, Damier Pitts was also a vital performer today, scoring 15 points and dropping 7 dimes. Arturs Berzins added 12 points, while Ervins Jonats flirted with a double-double, scoring 11 and raking in 9 rebounds. Lauris Blaus ended the game with 10.
As for AVIS Rapla, Thomas van der Mars gave it his all and was terrific, tallying 26 points and 12 rebounds to end his amazing Triobet BBL campaign. Indrek Kajupank added 14 points, while Martin Paasoja and Rasham Suarez were responsible for 12 and 11 points, respectively. The latter also added 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.
The first week of the Triobet BBL Playoffs is already in the books and we’ve been through a lot of exciting basketball and witnessed three impressive season debuts. Let’s recap it all with the traditional Triobet BBL Weekly Review, already at its’ 16th volume.
MVP. After joining Barons kvartals just a couple of weeks ago, Davis Rozitis didn’t need too much time to get things going. With 13 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 blocks and 2 steals, he’s been named the Triobet BBL Player of the Week.
QUARTERFINALIST. University of Tartu became the first quarterfinalist after a back-to-back beating of Barsy. They defeated the Kazakhs 83-49 on Monday and finished the series off on Tuesday with a 74-45 victory. The Estonians will face either Nevezis or Jekabpils in the next round.
MONTHLY MVP. Denis Krestinin was already long overdue an individual award and he finally notched an award for the month of January, after averaging 13.8 points and 11.8 rebounds, as Barons kvartals took four victories.
INDIVIDUAL AWARDS. Once the regular season ended, the Triobet BBL handed out individual awards to the league leaders of the main statistical categories. Barsy’s Trevin Parks was handed the scoring trophy, Thomas van der Mars was unbeatable in the rebounding category, while Toni Prostran was in a league of his own setting his teammates up with easy shots.
DEBUTS. It was a great start for most of the clubs that joined us from other European competitions, with TLU Kalev being the lone exception. The Estonians lost 75-92 to the lower seeded Liepaja/Triobet and will be looking at an uphill battle in the second leg. University of Tartu, as we mentioned, are already in the Quarterfinals, while Vytautas (+45) and Kalev/Cramo (+38) have a golden opportunity to join them.
UPSET. Ogre/Kumho Tyre and their home ground remains an unsolvable mystery for Pieno Zvaigzdes. The Latvian club has beaten the highest-seeded team from the regular season 83-75, and now both of Pasvalys‘ losses have been handed to them in Ogre.
COMEBACK. While it was an incomplete comeback, Jekabpils did all they could to keep the series against Nevezis interesting. Down 18 at halftime, the Latvians fought back and got themselves back into the game. Despite losing 74-78, they still have a chance in the second leg, needing to win by 5 points to qualify for the next round.