It was a slightly unusual week in Triobet BBL with action taking place not only on Tuesday and Wednesday this time around. With the second week of December already in the books, there are a lot fewer blanks to fill in the group stage. Let’s get down to it and look at the events and top performances in the league over the past seven days in the Triobet BBL Weekly Review!
GAME TO REMEMBER. Drama, double overtime and more drama. That was the story in the game between Liepaja/Triobet and Vytautas on Friday evening. Having won the first game by an astronomical 29-point margin, Vytautas found it much harder playing on the road and trailed for much of the meeting. In fact, with four minutes remaining Liepaja/Triobet were comfortably up 72-59, but a comeback, led by Gytis Sirutavicius, saw the visitors force overtime. As if one extra period wasn’t enough, Domantas Seskus brought the Lithuanian side back into the game once again at the end of the first five minutes of additional time with a crazy fade-away three-pointer. In the second overtime, Vytautas prevailed, taking a 107-102 win to keep the only undefeated record in the league.
TALKING ABOUT WINNING. Vytautas is the only undefeated team in the league and their 8-0 record is also the longest winning streak in the league. But who is next in this category? After two wins this week, Lietkabelis extended their good run to six games won on the trot, while AVIS Rapla and Jekabpils have won three straight and have successfully climbed the standings in Group A and B respectively after a sub-par start of the season. On the other end of the specter, we find TTU who at 0-8 are the only winless team in the competition.
TOUGH STRETCH. It wasn’t the easiest of schedules for Barons/LDz this week, as the side from Riga had to face both Group A leaders, Lietkabelis and Valmiera/ORDO, who have lost only two games combined all season long. As could have been predicted, Barons/LDz fell short in both of them, but they did make both of them interesting. After three quarters of close basketball, Valmiera/ORDO managed to pull away for an 87-75 victory on Wednesday, while Lietkabelis struggled all 40 minutes before coming out on top, 77-70, on Sunday. Barons/LDz have now lost four games in a row and share the last spot in the group with Port of Parnu. That is currently the second-longest losing streak in Triobet BBL.
INTERVIEW. Paulius Petrilevicius, the Triobet BBL MVP for the month of November, spoke with BBL.net about the interesting season he has been having so far, how he has managed to adapt to life in Estonia and the goals for future. You can read the full interview HERE.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK. It could have been a night to remember for Andrew Warren, but it will likely be one he will want to forget. The undisputed Port of Parnu leader scored 40 points against AVIS Rapla, but the Parnu side crumbled in the fourth quarter and lost the lead they had managed to accumulate. AVIS Rapla won 78-75, but a 40-point night by Andrew Warren will go down as one of the most impressive performances of the season. It was the second-highest point total for a player this season after Kristopher Richard scored 41 for Liepaja/Triobet in one of the first games of the season.
SAULKRASTI – Lietkabelis improved to an 8-1 record in Group A after overcoming a strong challenge by Barons/LDz and taking a 77-70 on the road in Latvia on Saturday evening.
It was the sixth consecutive victory for the Lithuanian side, while the struggling Barons/LDz lost for the fourth time in a row, dropping to a 1-7 mark.
Lietkabelis got off to a better start, scoring the first six points of the game, but the home side didn’t let the deficit get out of hand early. Trailing by two after the first quarter, Barons/LDz strung together another solid stretch and finished the first half on level terms, 35-35.
The third quarter went better for the visitors, who restored a slight edge behind terrific play of Valdas Vasylius. However, the lead was never commanding, with the hosts sticking close through all turns of the game.
Halfway through the final period, the score was all even at 60-60, but the Balkan duet of Miljan Pavkovic and Jurica Zuza scored seven points in quick succession, as Lietkabelis went on a 7-2 run to go up by five.
Barons/LDz had made it a one-possession game on a couple occasions henceforth, but the visitors did not fall under pressure and came away with the win.
Vasylius scored a team-high 16 points for the winners, Miljan Pavkovic added 14 points, six rebounds and seven assists, while Justin Love finished the game with 11 points, five rebounds and four steals.
Despite 32 points by Cliff Colimon, Barons/LDz just didn’t get enough help from elsewhere. Jason Calliste did add 13 points, but no other players score in double figures.
LIEPAJA – The battle for the top spot in Group B deserves to be called the game of the season so far in Triobet BBL, as Vytautas came back from behind to claim a 107-102 victory against Liepaja/Triobet in double overtime on the road at the Liepaja Olympic Center in Friday.
It was the eighth consecutive win for the Lithuanian side who are still undefeated, while the Liepaja club’s losing streak continued with the third straight defeat.
Liepaja/Triobet made an early statement in the game after opening the first quarter with an impressive 11-0 run. Although only four points separated the sides at the end of the opening period, the visitors from Prienai knew they were in for a tough one.
The same four-point gap, now 37-33, was between the teams in time for the halftime break. In the third quarter, Liepaja/Triobet went on a run to increase its advantage to double figures, finishing the period up 61-51.
Virginijus Seskus tried to inspire his team for a comeback and Sarunas Vasiliauskas delivered for his coach, quickly cutting the lead to four points with two three-pointers to start the final frame.
With the score tied at 75-75 the end of regulation, teams played five more minutes, but couldn’t settle the winner either, with Domantas Seskus draining a game-tying three-pointer with four seconds left.
The second extra period belonged to Vytautas who drained one big shot after another to take the upper hand and converted from the free-throw line to seal the win in the second overtime period.
Gytis Sirutavicius had 26 points and six rebounds for the winners, Vaidas Cepukaitis finished the game with a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Laimonas Kisielius and Sarunas Vasiliauskas finished the game with 13 points apiece.
For Liepaja/Triobet, Toms Leimanis had a team-high 22 points and seven assists, Zack Stephan had a monstrous double-double of 18 points and 18 boards, while Kristopher Richard finished with 17 points off the bench.
VALMIERA – Barons/LDz fought hard, but Valmiera/ORDO got over the hump in the third quarter and registered an 87-75 victory against their rivals on Wednesday at the Vidzeme Olympic Center.
After improving to a 6-1 record, the Valmiera side regained the second place in Group A, while Barons/LDz, now 1-6, share the last spot with Port of Parnu.
Valmiera/ORDO got off to a better start and gained a 28-19 advantage after a high-scoring opening quarter. However, the visitors from Riga did not give up and managed to cut the deficit to 43-40 in time for the interval after finishing the half with a 7-0 run.
Midway through the third quarter, Barons/LDz already found themselves up 51-47, but that was when Valmiera/ORDO woke up. After going on a 15-4 spurt, the hosts went into the fourth quarter up by double figures.
Although the guests did try to put up a fight, the Martins Laksa-led Valmiera side held off the last attempts of desperation to ultimately secure a home win.
Laksa led all scorers with a game-high 27 points, while Haralds Karlis and Ervins Jonats added 12 points apiece for Valmiera/ORDO. For Barons/LDz, the duo of Jason Calliste and Roberts Freimanis did most of the work, collecting 18 and 15 points respectively.
KEDAINIAI – It got out of hand quickly in Kedainiai, as Lietkabelis stormed past Nevezis to take a 91-67 victory on Wednesday evening to improve to a 7-1 record in Group A. Meanwhile, the hosts dropped to 3-5.
Having begun the game on a 20-4 run, Lietkabelis set the tone for what was to come and finished the first quarter with a 27-10 advantage. Vaidotas Volkus opened the second period with a poster dunk on Mile Ilic and things did start to look a little brighter for Nevezis, who got the deficit down to 12 points at the halftime break.
However, that was as close as the hosts got, with Lietkabelis pulling away after the interval once again, going up 66-49 before the final frame, where the visitors cruised to the win with the gap between the teams growing even further.
Valdas Vasylius was the leading scorer for the winners with 17 points and seven rebounds to his name, Miljan Pavkovic added 15 points, five assists and two steals, while Justin Love chipped in with 13 points and six boards.
For Nevezis, Grant Johnson was the only player in double figures with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field. Volkus scored nine, while Saah Nimley finished with eight points.
RAKVERE – Tarvas managed to defend their home court in Rakvere against the visiting Jurmala/Fenikss club on Tuesday evening, as the Estonians turned up to play in the second half to take a 82-70 victory against the guests from Latvia.
The win allowed the Rakvere side to improve to a 4-3 mark, while Jurmala/Fenikss dropped to a 3-6 record.
Tarvas got off to a better start, taking a 19-16 lead after the opening quarter, but the Latvian team rallied back in the second quarter to go up 37-35 at the halftime break.
However, an improved effort in the second half saw Tarvas take the upper hand once again. Led by the duet of Reinis Strupovics and Nemanja Maric, the Estonians went on an 8-1 run spanning the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth to go up 58-51.
Soon enough, there was a double-digit gap separating the sides, with Strupovics draining a jumper to make it 71-60 with under four minutes remaining and Jurmala/Fenikss never recovered.
For the winners, Maric and Strupovics shared a team-high 15 points, while Roberts Stumbris added 10 to go along eight rebounds.
Meanwhile, Jurmala/Fenikss were led by Maris Ziedins, who finished the game with 13 points and five rebounds, Endru Smits, who also had 13, and Casey Roberts and Edgars Jeromanovs, who both added 12.
RAPLA – Port of Parnu couldn’t capitalize on the golden opportunity to claim their second victory in Triobet BBL this season, wasting an eight-point lead in the final frame before finally surrendering 78-75 to AVIS Rapla in an all-Estonian clash in Group A on Tuesday evening.
AVIS Rapla continued their excellent start of the season by extending the winning streak to three games, which puts the side’s overall record at 5-2. Meanwhile, even a 40-point performance by Andrew Warren wasn’t enough for Port of Parnu.
After a relatively even opening quarter, Port of Parnu managed to get a slight edge over their rivals in the second period, but the nip-and-tuck battle continued until the end of the first half for the most part.
Up 37-33 at the halftime break, the visitors maintained the upper hand in the third period, but AVIS Rapla stayed close. However, a 6-0 run to close the third quarter saw Port of Parnu take a 55-49 lead into the final frame.
The hosts had fallen behind by as many as eight points in the fourth quarter, but battled back and took the lead at 62-61 with three minutes remaining after Martin Paasoja drained a jumper.
Port of Parnu had tied things up at 66-66, but Domagoj Bubalo gave AVIS Rapla the lead once again with a dunk while Sven Kaldre capitalized on a turnover and converted a fast break to make it a four-point game.
Andrew Warren had cut Port of Parnu’s deficit to a single point, but the hosts sealed the win with confident play down the stretch.
Bubalo finished the game with 20 points and nine rebounds, Kaldre chipped in with 15 points and four assists, while Devin Brooks also added 15.
Rain Raadik was the only other Port of Parnu player, other than Warren, to reach double figures, with 10 points and seven rebounds to his name. Triobet BBL November MVP Paulius Petrilevicius added seven points, seven rebounds.
PARNU – The decision to change clubs in the beginning of November is proving to be an excellent one for Paulius Petrilevicius, who chose to give up a bench role at Juventus to try his luck in Estonia, immediately becoming a Triobet BBL sensation for Port of Parnu.
Rewarded for his stellar play with a November MVP award, the 24-year-old is leading the league in efficiency and has made quickly become one of the leaders at his new club, averaging 19.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.8 during his Estonian experience so far.
BBL.net asked Petrilevicius some questions about the interesting season he has been having so far, how he has managed to adapt to life in Estonia and the goals for future.
Paulius, congrats on winning the MVP of the month award. You have become one of the club’s most important players despite arriving only a month ago. How did your new teammates welcome you and help to adjust?
Thank you for the congratulations. My teammates at the Parnu team are extra friendly. They helped me to adapt not only on the basketball court, but also in a new city. When I came to Parnu, everything seemed new and a little scary, but now I’m feeling great here.
What do you think you bring to the team on the court? Did you talk with the coach about what he expects from you, are there any specific tasks that he has set?
We didn’t speak with the coach about the special tasks I need to do. But as I know, the team was looking for a player who can take rebounds and help in defense. I am trying to do the best I can.
Why did you part ways with your previous team Juventus and what were the main reasons why you decided to continue your career in Estonia?
Juventus team needed a different player and maybe they wanted a stronger player. I didn’t feel useful and that was the main thing why I decided to change teams. After all, I spoke with my agent and he found me some options where to go. In the end, I chose Parnu and I am really happy to be here! All in all, I'm feeling really comfortable here, the main thing is that I have possibilities to play to my full capability.
How much did you know about Estonian basketball before and how has your opinion changed since coming to Parnu?
Before I came to Estonia I knew that basketball here is the same we play in Lithuania or in other countries. I haven’t noticed any differences yet.
What do you hope to accomplish this season with Parnu in the Estonian league and in BBL?
I hope that our team will be successful and will reach as many wins as possible. The main aim of mine is to improve each and all parts of my game.
You’re still a young player who is on the path of improvement. What are the specific areas of your game that you’re trying to improve right now?
I am trying to improve practically all parts of my game because, as we all know, perfection has no limits.
Is there anything you would like to say to Parnu fans?
I would like to say big thanks for all who are interested in basketball and supports our team. Thank you that you all believe in us.
The first week of December basketball is already in the books and the oft-headlined streaks have not yet been broken. There were some outstanding displays throughout the Baltics nevertheless, so let’s take a look at the top performances with the seventh volume of the Triobet BBL Weekly Review!
MVP. The season was already underway when Paulius Petrilevicius joined Parnu, but that did not stop him from having an immediate impact on the club. The forward averaged 20.7 points, 8 rebounds and 2.7 assists throughout the month and was named the most valuable player for the month of November. Petrilevicius was just as impressive this week, as he recorded a double-double against Valmiera/ORDO.
BLOW-OUTS. It was a week full of lopsided performances, as six of seven games ended with a double-digit margin. The victors of each game were decided by an average split of 19 points.
SHAKE-UP. Lietkabelis decided to shake things up in the locker room, as Kazys Maksvytis took the coaching reigns, while former head coach Gintaras Kadziulis stepped down to an assistant role. Maksvytis has already secured his first win with the club, bashing TLU Kalev 101-72.
SEVEN. While it may not be 21-0, Vytautas do have something to be proud of too – with a 77-68 victory against TTU, they made it to seven games undefeated and retained the best record in the league.
NOT YET. Every team in the league has managed to win at least once this season. Every team except TTU, that is. The Estonians suffered two big losses this week to fall all the way to a 0-8 record.
TUNROVER! Kiur Akenparg has had a rollercoaster of a season – after averaging 23 points throughout the first five games, including two 32-point outings, the Estonian dropped down to just 7.3 points in the last three games. To make things worse, he had a terrible night handling the ball against Vytautas, as he turned the ball over 8 times, a new low in the league this season.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK. Laimonas Kisielius has been splendid for Vytautas throughout the season, yet he still manages to surprise. The Vilnius-born forward shot lights-out against TLU Kalev, knocking down six-of-eight from beyond the three-point line, five-of-six inside the arc and totaled 28 points. He also added 5 rebounds to the stat-sheet and amassed a staggering 32 ranking points.
Five Triobet BBL clubs were participating in the regular season of the inaugural edition of the FIBA Europe Cup, with four of them progressing to the next stage. It is now clear that Siauliai will join the battles in Triobet BBL from the Play-Offs, with participation of other teams depending on whether they reach the elimination round in the continental competition.
With the group stage of FIBA Europe Cup now in the books, BBL.net brings you a round-up of last week’s action and a look ahead at the prospects of the Baltic clubs to go even further.
Ventspils 96-73 PGE Turow
Having gone through the group stage without a single loss, Ventspils added an impressive 96-73 victory against the visiting PGE Turow to finish Group I play with a squeaky clean 6-0 record.
In an excellent all-around team performance, seven players reached double figures for the Latvian side, with Damier Pitts leading the way with 15 points. Andrejs Selakovs had 13 points and seven rebounds, while Kwamain Mitchell added 12 points and five assists.
The win also ensured that the other Baltic team in the group, Pieno Zvaigzdes, progressed to the next round. In the next stage, Ventspils will play against CEZ Nymburk, Antwerp Giants and Lukoil Academic.
Pieno Zvaigzdes 86-76 Helios Suns
Pieno Zvaigzdes were one of the last teams to punch a ticket to the next round, as the Lithuanians registered an 86-76 victory against Helios Suns to claim the second place in the group with a 3-3 mark after getting help from Ventspils, who defeated PGE Turow in the other game in Group I.
An impressive performance by Demond Carter paved the way for the Pieno Zvaigzdes victory, as the American scored 21 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists. Zygimantas Skucas was solid once again, scoring 16 points, while veteran Steponas Babrauskas collected 15.
Drawn into the same group as the legendary BC Cibona, the Pasvalys side will also face STB Le Havre and Energia Targu Jiu in the next stage.
Khimik 81-56 TU/Rock
It wasn’t the best way to end the group stage, but an 81-56 loss to Khimik did not impact TU/Rock, 3-3, in any way, as the Estonian side had secured a place in the next round already in the penultimate round.
Interestingly enough, all ten registered players for TU/Rock scored in the game, but none of them scored more than Evaldas Zabas’ team-high nine points. Tanel Kurbas added eight points in a generally low-scoring effort for the Tartu club.
Waiting for TU/Rock in the next round are a number of well-known clubs: BC Enisey, FoxTown Cantu and Elan Chalon.
Juventus 94-67 ETHA
Despite finishing third in Group L, Juventus progressed to the next round as one of the best third-placed teams with a 3-3 record and a good point differential after an impressive 94-67 victory against ETHA at home in Utena.
The big man duo of Edgaras Zelionis and Egidijus Dimsa scored 16 points each, while Chavaughn Lewis and Martynas Linkevicius collected 15 points apiece.
Juventus will play against Mons-Hainaut, Bakken Bears and their Group L rivals Khimik in the next stage in what can probably considered a rather favorable draw.
Inter Bratislava 85-100 Siauliai
Siauliai became the only Triobet BBL team to fall short of qualifying for the next round in FIBA Europe Cup, despite finishing the regular season with a solid 100-85 win against Inter on the road in the Slovakian capital Bratislava.
Assem Marei had a monstrous double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds on excellent 8-of-9 shooting from the field, Cameron Ayers also scored 17, while Arturas Jomantas had 16 points, six rebounds and seven assists.
Having won three games and lost three, the back-to-back Baltic champions finished third in Group M.
Estonian side Kalev/Cramo, who are not participating in Triobet BBL this season, also did not qualify, losing all six games in Group H.