RAKVERE – Barsy Atyrau suffered another heartbreaking loss, as they fell just short, 66-71 against Tarvas.
Tarvas now stand at 2-0, while Barsy dropped to 0-2.
The Kazakhs were stronger in the initial quarter and with strong play in the paint, found themselves up by eight. The margin widened in the second half, as Barsy jumped ahead by 11. Nevertheless, Tarvas were finally in the lead just a couple minutes later and entered halftime with a one-point lead.
It was Barsy now on the losing end, as it was now them facing a double-digit deficit. While it seemed that Tarvas had it all wrapped up, the Kazakhs were back within only one point with 30 seconds remaining.
Nevertheless, Barsy were more successful in the closing seconds and ended the game atop by three.
Roberts Stumbris led the starting unit with 19 points, while Mario Paiste chipped in with 18 points. David Haughton tallied 12 points, while Radomir Marojevic finished up with 10.
Mikhail Yevstigneev was the leading scorer with 16 points for Barsy, while Michael Burwell was the only other player in double-digits, as he scored 13.
The start of the 2015-16 Triobet BBL season has brought about exciting basketball across the Baltics, with four clubs going undefeated so far: Valmiera/ORDO, Vytautas, Liepaja/Triobet and Tarvas.
But how have our clubs fared in their domestic competitions? Let's take a closer look at Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian leagues and find out!
Just like in Triobet BBL action, Valmiera/ORDO are marching without defeats in the domestic championship as well. Having taken down defending champs VEF Riga in the season-opening game, the club from Valmiera has gone on to register four more victories and now lead the league with a clean 5-0 record.
Liepaja/Triobet has also had a good start of the season, with their only loss coming against the league-leaders Valmiera/ORDO. Currently in third place with a 5-1 mark, the Liepaja club already boasts a 69-66 upset over last year's runners-up BK Ventspils. Stephen Zack has been the main go-to guy for Liepaja/Triobet, averaging 14.3 points and 12.3 rebounds per game.
Meanwhile, the three others teams haven't been convincing. After losing the first three games of the season, Jekabpils has managed to to turn things around with two consecutive wins. However, Jurmala/Fenikss, now 2-4, and Barons/LDz, 1-5, remain near the bottom of the 11-team standings.
The return of coach Virginijus Seskus has sparked a true basketball revival in the Prienai, with Vytautas getting off to a sizzling start of the 2015-16 campaign. One of the early season Triobet BBL favourites and still undefeated in the competition, the Prienai-Birstonas club is in fine form in the domestic championship as well. Boasting an excellent 5-1 record, Vytautas share the second place in the league standings with Lietuvos Rytas.
Although Lietkabelis and Nevezis, both 2-4, aren’t in the top half of the table, there are definitely some positives to take away for both sides. It is true that the team from Panevezys has failed to live up to the expectations after putting together a very solid roster on paper, but the outstanding individual talent and squad depth was visible in stretches.
Many basketball experts were predicting doom and gloom for Nevezis before the season, but Ramunas Cvirka has built a coherent unit that has so far managed to surprise quite a few opponents in Lithuania. Thought of as the league outsiders, Nevezis has already registered two wins having triumphed against Dzukija and Siauliai.
The Estonian championship has not picked up full pace yet for the teams also participating in Triobet BBL, but it is so far TLU/Kalev, who are the highest-placed team with a 2-2 mark outside the big duo of Kalev/Cramo and TU/Rock.
However, since the competition is only in its early stages, it is really too soon to make any conclusions. Port of Parnu and AVIS Rapla, both with a 1-1 record, share the fourth spot, while Tarvas, 0-2, and TTU, 0-3, are yet to record their first win in the Estonian league.
The first weeks of the Triobet BBL action are already in the books so let’s take some time to round up the performances that happened so far with the first volume of the Triobet BBL Weekly Review!
UNBEATEN. Two weeks into the competition and only four teams have managed to keep clean record, going without losses so far. Having notched two easy wins against Estonian teams, Valmiera/ORDO are the only undefeated team in Group A, while Vytautas, Liepaja/Triobet and Tarvas share the honors in Group B. However, the Lithuanian and Latvian teams have two wins, while the Estonians have only had a chance to win one so far.
OPENING IN STYLE. In the 2015-16 Triobet BBL season opener, Valmiera/ORDO registered a 90-59 victory against the visiting AVIS Rapla. The 31-point win margin recorded by the Latvian team remains the biggest of the season. Davis Rozitis played a major role in the blowout, double-doubling with 24 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks.
SETTING THE BAR. Although the season is only two weeks old, Liepaja/Triobet’s shooting guard Kristopher Richard already set the bar quite high in terms of scoring. The 26-year-old American lit up Barsy Atyrau for 41 points on the way to a ranking of 45 to pace his Latvian team to an 86-79 overtime victory.
CHARITY. To mark the start of the league’s partnership with its new title sponsor Triobet, a charity game was held in Valmiera, with celebrities, high-ranking basketball officials, politicians, actors and journalists joining BBL and Triobet representatives in a friendly game. A total of €1,000 was donated to Valmiera’s SOS Children’s Village and Valmiera Region Community Foundation.
BROTHERS. The Skele brothers were reunited, as the 32-year-old Armands Skele joined his younger brother, 22-year-old Aigars in Valmiera/ORDO. The siblings, who will form the backcourt of the team, already played their first game of the season. Aigars Skele shone brighter than his older brother, scoring 16 points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing out four assists. Armands Skele scored four points and grabbed five rebounds in his Valmiera/ORDO debut in an 89-65 Port of Parnu.
VALMIERA – Valmiera/ORDO gave their fans something to cheer about, as they soared to an easy 89-65 victory over Port of Parnu in the Group A clash.
While the home side got off to a 7-0 start, the lead was short-lived, as Port of Parnu eventually came knocking back. The two sides were level-pegging after the first quarter with 20-20 on the scoreboard.
Nevertheless, Valmiera/ORDO managed to turn up the intensity, drained 6 shots from downtown and after winning the second period 25-10, were already leading by a delightful 15 points at halftime.
It just got worse for Parnu from then on, as the long-range bombs kept coming their way. After three quarters the two teams were separated by 22 points – 71-49.
It was apparent that the final quarter would be merely a formality and the Latvians would end up with an easy win.
Ervins Jonats and Aigars Skele were on point from beyond the arc, as they drained four-out-of-five each and ended up with 18 and 16 points respectively. Jonats also added 9 rebounds to his scoreline. Martins Laksa was the only other Valmiera/Ordo player in double-digits, as he tallied 11 points.
Port of Parnu was a one-man-army tonight, as Andrew Warren scored half of his team’s points. The guard recorded 32 points and 5 rebounds and was shooting the ball with enviable accuracy. Robert Valge and Joonas Jarvelainen were next in scoring with 9 and 8 points respectively.
LIEPAJA – It was all drama in Liepaja, as the outing between local Liepaja/Triobet and Barsy Atyrau required 45 minutes of basketball to decide the victors. The home side eventually triumphed 86-79 and recorded their second victory.
It didn't seem to be a high scoring affair early on, as the teams combined for merely 20 points in the first quarter, with Barsy leading 13-7, yet it turned around from then on.
The Kazakhs continued their solid play and midway through the quarter were already up by twelve. It was only Richard’s efforts keeping Liepaja/Triobet in the game, as the American scored 14 points in the second quarter alone.
For the lion’s share of the third quarter it was a neck-to-neck game, yet Bryan Harrison hit two long-range shots in the last minute to give the visitors a six-point advantage before the final segment.
With three minutes remaining, Barsy were still ahead by 7 points, but a series of free-throws quickly wiped the lead away. The two sides exchanged missed shots in the final ten seconds of regulation and it would all be decided by overtime.
Liepaja/Triobet were the more accurate and composed side in the five extra minutes and sealed the victory with a three-pointer from Janis Antrops to push the lead to seven.
Most of the credits for the victory should go to Kristopher Richard, who was absolutely on fire, hitting 14-of-20 from the field and 11-of-11 from the charity stripe for an outrageous 41 points. He also swiped for 6 steals and tore down 4 rebounds.
Janis Antrops added 15 points and 6 assists, while Toms Leimanis finished the game with 11 points in his account.
Five players were in double digits for the losing side, as Michael Burwell and Mikhail Yevstigneev scored 17 apiece, as the latter also added 7 rebounds to the tally. Bryan Harrison had 15 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds, while Ryan Cook ended the game with 13 points and 9 boards in his tab. Dmitriy Klimov scored 10.
RAPLA – We witnessed a nail-biting performance in Estonia on Wednesday evening, as AVIS Rapla managed to overcome visiting Lietkabelis 84-78.
It was the second game in two days for the Lithuanian side, both with two different outcomes. Both teams now hold a record of 1-1 in Group A.
AVIS Rapla got off to a hot start, as William Artino's 6 points and 3 boards in just three minutes led the way to a 9-2 start. Nevertheless, the lead was soon swiped away, as Lietkabelis piled up a 9-0 run of their own.
While the Estonians managed to finish the initial quarter on a higher note, Lietkabelis soon erased the small deficit and ignited another run, eleven-to-nothing. It was now the Lithuanians ahead by 8 with twenty minutes of basketball remaining.
After a horrible second quarter and a 2-8 start of the second half, Rapla finally managed to get a grip. They won the five final minutes of the third quarter 17-6 and were back within one before the final period.
Lietkabelis once again managed to blast ahead, and yet again it was met with a 12-2 run by AVIS Rapla. The two sides continued to trade blows like heavyweights, but Devin Brooks finally delivered the knock-out with a clutch long-range shot to give the Estonians a 5-point advantage with half a minute remaining.
The undermanned visitors could not respond and the home side celebrated a tough victory.
Devin Brooks starred for the winning side, as he swished and dished for 19 points and 7 assists, while also tabbing 6 rebounds. Martin Paasoja contributed 18, while William Artino ended the game with 14 points and 8 boards. Indrek Kajupank and Kristjan Voolaid were also in double-digit scoring with 12 and 11 points respectively.
Arturas Valeika shined as the go-to-guy for Lietkabelis, as he totaled 23 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Arnas Labuckas chipped in with 17 points and 5 steals, while Brandon Wood ended up with 14 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds. Lukas Aukstikalnis connected on three of his five attempts from long-range and finished the game with 12 points.
RAKVERE – In the evening’s first Group B matchup, Rakvere Tarvas managed to come out on top against visiting Jekabpils, as a fourth-quarter surge got them past their foes 74-64.
It was a nip-and-tuck affair from the get-go, as neither side was willing to give any sort of advantage to their opponents.
While the first quarter was as close as it gets, Jekabpils managed to set themselves up with a 9-point advantage mid-way through the second. Tarvas eventually evened the score with two minutes remaining in the first half, but the Latvians managed to finish the quarter with 4 unanswered points and hit the halftime with a 32-28 advantage.
In the close-as-ever third quarter, the two sides exchanged baskets one after the other, with neither side able to create a tangible lead for themselves.
Tarvas were only down by one point before the final quarter and it seemed that the game would perhaps be decided only by the last shot. Nevertheless, the Estonians slowly and steadily pulled away with a great performance on the defensive end. With a minute remaining, they were already up by 8 and Jekabpils missing three after three certainly helped their case.
Roberts Stumbris set the tone for Tarvas with 24 points and 6 rebounds, while David Haughton chipped in with 16 points and 8 boards. Brandon Goode was also strong around the rim and finished the game with 10 points and 8 rebounds.
Rinalds Sirsnins and Ronaldas Rutkauskas were the leading scorers for Jekabpils, tallying 14 points apiece. The latter also contributed 8 rebounds. Tyler Larson was also in double digits with 13 points in his account.
TALLINN – Lietkabelis continued their successful start of the season in Triobet BBL, earning their second victory in Group A by outduelling TLU Kalev 75-67 on the road in the Estonian capital Tallinn on Tuesday evening.
It was the first game of the season for the hosts in the competition.
The team from Panevezys started the game strong and went up 26-15 after the first quarter, with their advantage growing to 36-19 in the second period. However, TLU Kalev did not panic and finished the first half with a 13-2 run to cut the deficit to six points.
Lietkabelis remained in front, but the Estonians got within striking distance in the third quarter, putting pressure on the visitors. Three minutes into the final period, TLU Kalev were down only 57-60, but the guests scored 13 points in a row to answer all remaining questions.
Arturas Valeika was the game’s leading scorer with 12 points and six rebounds for Lietkabelis. Valdas Vasylius and Arnas Labuckas collected 11 points apiece.
Johnny Barhanemeskel had a team-high 12 points for TLU Kalev, Reimo Tamm scored 11 while, Kaido Saks had 10.
PRIENAI – Vytautas improved to a 2-0 record in Group B of the Triobet BBL after claiming an 88-71 victory over Jurmala/Fenikss at home in Prienai on Tuesday. One of the league favorites started the game slow, but went on to register the win without complications.
The road team from Latvia managed to keep the game close in the beginning, trailing only 24-26 at the end of the shoot-out style first quarter. After increasing the distance to seven points at the break, Vytautas broke away for good after the interval.
Although Jurmala/Fenikss had closed the gap to 47-50, the Lithuanians shot ahead 15-1 to go up 65-51. Having finished the third quarter up 69-53, Vytautas allowed their second unit to snatch up the victory in the fourth quarter.
Laimonas Kisielius had 18 points, Vytautas Sulskis and Vaidas Cepukaitis finished with 15 points apiece and had eight and nine rebounds respectively.
Edgars Jeromanovs finished as the leading scorer for Jurmala/Fenikss with 13 points, with Ugis Pinete adding 10.
TALLINN – Jekabpils got their win count rolling in the new Triobet BBL season, pushing past TTU 84-65 on the road in Estonia on Tuesday night in a Group B game between two previously winless teams.
The visitors went up by double digits already in the first quarter, taking a 23-13 lead after the opening frame. However, TTU managed to slice the deficit to 33-37 before the halftime break.
Although Jekabpils had shortly re-established a double-figure lead in the second half, the hosts trimmed down the gap once again, keeping the deficit manageable.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Kiur Akenparg’s basket had made it a five-point game at 59-64, but the Latvians responded with a 5-0 spurt to regain a firmer grip on the game.
Rinalds Sirsnins scored 19 points for Jekabpils, Ronaldas Rutkauskas had 17 points and nine reounds, while Modestas Kumpys added 15 points.
Kiur Akenparg had a game high 32 points for TTU, but it wasn't enough to keep the Estonian side in the game.