PRIENAI – The first major upset of the Triobet BBL Play-Offs came in Prienai, where the best Regular Season team Vytautas were knocked out in the Eight-Final round by the visiting Nevezis, who claimed a 107-83 victory after losing the first leg by five points.
After injuries to Vilmantas Dilys and Vaidas Cepukaitis, the injury-struck Vytautas were left without any big man presence and coach Virginijus Seskus had to rely forward Laimonas Kisielius to act as the team’s man in the middle.
In a high-paced game, Vytautas started the game relatively well and led for most of the opening quarter, but quickly ran out of steam. The eight-man Prienai side ran out of steam in the second quarter, which they lost 25-15, and continued the downward slide after the interval.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Taylor King at the end of the third quarter had increased the gap to 76-60, but Kajus Okmanas answered with a three of his own to slice the deficit to 13 points before the final frame.
Nevezis did not fall under pressure and punched its ticket to the Quarter-Final with solid play in the fourth quarter. They will face another Lithuanian team Lietkabelis in the Quarter-Final round and will be hoping to force another upset.
King led the winners with 27 points and 12 rebounds in a spectacular performance off the bench, Mindaugas Kupsas abused the opponents inside the paint with 10-on-10 shooting from the field for a total of 22 points, while Darius Gvezdauskas added 15 points.
For the hosts, Vytautas Sulskis had a game-high 32 points, but it simply wasn’t enough. Kisielius scored 14 points, Sarunas Vasiliauskas added 13, while Kajus Okmanas finished the game with 10.
PANEVEZYS – There was nothing separating Lietkabelis and Jurmala/Fenikss after the first leg of the Eight-Final tie between the sides in Latvia, but the Lithuanian side took care of business at home in Panevezys, defeating the visitors 92-78 in the second game to advance to the next round.
The hosts started the game with a high level of intensity and broke away to an early double-digit lead in the first quarter. However, Jurmala/Fenikss finished the period with a small run to cut the deficit to 19-14.
Led by a 13-point first half effort by Arnas Labuckas, Lietkabelis restored a double figure advantage before the interval, with teams heading to the locker rooms with the scoreboard signaling a 39-28 lead for the hosts.
Serbian big man Mile Ilic took over the scoring duties from the team’s captain after the halftime break, as Panevezys ran away with the game in the third quarter, deciding the outcome of the Eight-Final tie well before the final period.
Ilic finished the game with a team-high 19 points and 12 rebounds, Mantas Kazonas scored 17 points, while Arnas Labuckas collected 13 points in only 17 minutes of action for Lietkabelis.
For the visitors from Jurmala, Maris Ziedins had a game-high 20 points, Edgars Jeromanovs scored 16 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out six dimes, while Edmunds Elksnis had 15 points.
In the Quarter-Final, Lietkabelis will face Nevezis, who recorded the biggest upset of the Triobet BBL Play-Offs so far by knocking out the best Regular Season team Vytautas in their Eight-Final match-up.
VALMIERA – There was no drama in the Vidzeme Olympic Center, as the home side Valmiera/ORDO doubled their first-leg 18-point advantage against TLU Kalev with an 87-68 win at home.
As there was a huge spread even before tip-off, no one was expecting a close contest, yet TLU still hung in there in the first quarter, trailing by only one. However, Valmiera flipped the switch in the second period and amassed an insurmountable lead before halftime.
The Latvians were not taking any chances and were sure to see the double-digit lead through, as they booked a ticket to the Quarter-Final.
Valmiera received a solid performance from their bench players, as the starters accounted for merely a third of the team‘s points. Leading the way, it was Davis Rozitis, who ended the game with a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds. Aigars Skele added 12 points, while Lauris Blaus was the third-highest scorer with 8 points to his name.
Johnny Berhanemeskel was once again the leading scorer for TLU Kalev, as he tallied 18 points, while Dominykas Milka had an outstanding performance totaling 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Valmiera will now face the winner of the Pieno Zvaigzdes – Barons/LDZ pair in the next round.
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.