TALLINN – TLU Kalev continued their good run of play in Triobet BBL by defeating AVIS Rapla 83-57 in an all-Estonian battle in Group A on Tuesday evening in Tallinn.
The win saw the side from the Estonian capital improve to a 6-5 record, while the visitors from Rapla dropped to 7-4. Both teams have one game remaining in the regular season.
After a very close opening quarter, the hosts went on an 8-1 run to start the second period, starting to slowly pull away. By the end of the first half, TLU Kalev found themselves with a 43-30 advantage.
The game continued going very much the way the home side wanted, with the lead growing to 24 points during the third period. The fourth quarter, at that point, was merely a formality.
Thomas Droney and Dominykas Milka scored 20 points each for the winners, with the Lithuanian center also adding eight rebounds. Zach Atkinson chipped in with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds.
VALMIERA – Having secured the top spot in Group A in advance, Lietkabelis took the foot off the gas pedal and finished the Triobet BBL regular season with an 87-85 loss on the road against Valmiera/ORDO, who got a much-needed win after two consecutive losses.
The Lithuanian side finished group play with a 10-2 record, while Valmiera/ORDO are now 8-3 and have another game remaining against AVIS Rapla, which will decide the fate of the second place.
It was the hosts who started the game slightly better, building a 21-17 edge after the first quarter of play. However, Lietkabelis responded with a strong second period and finished the half up 41-40.
After the break, Valmiera/ORDO regained control and got back in front. With a couple of minutes played in the final quarter, the home side was up 66-59, but a couple of shots by Brandis Raley-Ross and Simas Buterlevicius quickly evened things up.
The scores was tied at 77-77 with three minutes left, but solid play down the stretch and a couple of crucial misses from the free-throw line by Lietkabelis allowed the hosts to triumph.
Armands Skele paced the winners with a team-high 15 points, Raimonds Gabrans added 14 points off the bench, while Aigars Skele chipped in with 13 points and six assists for Valmiera/ORDO.
Meanwhile, Mile Ilic was the top scorer for Lietkabelis with 15 points in 16 minutes of playing time. Buterlevicius scored 14 points, while Jermaine Love collected 13 points.
TALLINN – After starting the Triobet BBL regular season with ten consecutive losses, TTU finished it with two wins in a row, as Kirstjan Makke’s game-winner saw the Estonians nip Barsy 78-77 at home in Tallinn on Monday evening.
Having finished Group B play with a 2-10 record, TTU still have chances to make the Play-Offs if results go their way in Group A and enough Baltic teams qualify to the knockout stage of the FIBA Europe Cup.
After an excellent start of the game, the hosts went up 15-4, but Barsy responded with a 22-3 run and finished the first quarter with a 26-18 advantage. It was mostly Michael Burwell and Ryan Cook doing the damage and TTU did a better job of containing them in the second period, cutting the deficit to four points, as teams left for the interval.
The second half began with a low-scoring third quarter, which did not change much. Barsy did win the stretch by a single point, extending their lead to 58-53, but TTU stayed within striking distance.
However, a 10-0 run in the middle of the fourth quarter saw the hosts storm back in front to take a 69-67 advantage with four minutes left. Barsy had regained the lead with under a minute left, but Makke tied things up from the free-throw line, making one-of-two.
On the other end, Cook also made only one, leaving TTU 12 seconds to either win the game or force overtime. It proved to be enough for Makke, who drained a cold-blooded game-winner with no time on the clock.
Makke, Corey Raley-Ross and Kristjan Kitsing all finished with 13 points apiece for the winners, while Burwell and Cook had 22 each for Barsy.
Another action-packed week has gone by in Triobet BBL, as TTU finally got their first win, Barons/LDz continued their hot streak, while Valmera/ORDO brought in a new coach to bring them out of the slump. Meanwhile, Lietkabelis and Vytautas can now celebrate finishing atop Group A and B respectively.
Let’s take a look back at the outstanding performances of the week in another volume of Triobet BBL Weekly Review!
FINALLY. It took several months and eleven tries, but TTU eventually got the first win of the season in Triobet BBL, defeating Jurmala/Fenikss 79-75 on Tuesday. While it is too late to climb out of the bottom of Group B, the Estonian side will be happy to have finished the regular season with at least one win in their account. They will have a chance to add another victory on Monday, when they face Barsy in Tallinn.
ROLLING. With the turn of the calendars to 2016, something definitely happened to Barons/LDz. The team from Riga continued steamrolling their opponents in the new year and most recently claimed the scalp of Valmiera/ORDO. What was even more impressive, they won by 42 points. After one more barrage of three-pointers, Barons/LDz celebrated a 111-69 victory.The team as a whole made 11-of-22 from beyond the arc. After starting the year with two wins, Barons/LDz improved to a 3-7 record in Group A.
BUSY WEEK. It was a busy week for AVIS Rapla, who had three Triobet BBL games on their schedule this week. Having won two and lost one, the Estonian side shares a 7-3 record with Valmiera/ORDO, as both teams are in a race for the second place in Group A. AVIS Rapla will next play TLU Kalev before meeting Valmiera/ORDO on January 26. However, for Valmiera/ORDO, the next game is against Lietkabelis, which will undoubtedly be a tough one.
NEW COACH. After starting the year with two defeats in Triobet BBL, Valmiera/ORDO hired coach Roberts Stelmaheris to lead the team. The former point guard is a three-time Baltic champion, with the first two trophies coming as a player with Lietuvos Rytas and the third already as a coach with Ventspils in 2013. Can the new coach turn things around in Valmiera?
GIANT-SLAYERS. Lietkabelis has been on a remarkable run after the arrival of Kazys Maksvytis. Already guaranteed the top spot in Group A, not only are the Panevezys club cruising in the Triobet BBL, they are doing miracles in the domestic front as well. In a span of a week, the Lithuanian side defeated Lietuvos Rytas and Neptunas and looking to be in red-hot form heading into BBL Play-Offs.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK. Barons/LDz sharpshooter Arturs Ausejs has had a perfect start of the year and put up the best performance of the week this time round. In a lopsided win against Valmiera/ORDO, Ausejs scored 36 points on 12-of-16 shooting from the field to go along seven assists for a total index rating of 36.
PARNU – A thrilling battle between two Estonian clubs took place in Parnu, as AVIS Rapla edged Port of Parnu 80-79 after 45 minutes of basketball.
The first quarter brought five lead changes to the table, as the two sides kept on trading blow after blow and it was merely three points in between the two clubs after ten minutes.
While the pace of the game slowed down in the second period, neither team took advantage and the same three points separated at halftime.
Parnu managed to give themselves some room mid-third quarter, as they jumped ahead by 8, but a 13-2 run allowed Rapla to come right back.
The home side held a slight advantage for much of the fourth quarter. The teams traded three-pointers and it was still Parnu up by one. William Artino had the chance to give his team the lead but missed one of his two free-throws and the game went on to overtime.
Port of Parnu seemed dominant in regulation, as they quickly racked up a 6-point lead, but were rebuffed in just a few moments, as they turned the ball over four times in the final 90 seconds.
Halfway through the Round of 32, the four teams representing the Baltics in the FIBA Europe Cup have had mixed result. This time around only Ventspils and Pieno Zvaigzdes managed to tab a victory, while Juventus fell in dramatic fashion.
Ventspils 77-69 Lukoil Academic
Ventspils showed true resilience, as they fought all the way back from a 15-point deficit with dominating play inside the paint. The Latvians outrebounded their opponents 44-26 and jumped to the top of Group P with their second victory in three games.
Artis Ate was the top gunner for Ventspils with 18 points to his name, while Kristaps Janicenoks was good for 15. Allan Wiggins chipped in with 13 points and 7 rebounds, as Andrejs Grazulis came off the bench to add 10 points and 7 boards.
Enisey Krasnoyarsk 87-68 TU/Rock
After a dreadful start to the game, TU/Rock found themselves down by 20 not even halfway through the game. While the Estonians clawed back, wiping out the double-digit deficit, the home side were not about to let this one slip and recovered victory with an 18-3 run, handing TU/Rock their third loss in the Round of 32.
Gert Dorbek led the way for the Tartu side with 21 points, while Evaldas Zabas added 12 to the total. Brian Harper and Janar Talts accounted for 9 points each, as they also chipped in with 9 and 6 rebounds respectively.
Pieno Zvaigzdes 95-93 Energia Targu
While they were still up by double-digits with 6 minutes remaining, Pieno Zvaigzdes ended up squandering a 19-point third quarter advantage. Nevertheless, they still rose victorious for their first victory after an overtime drama.
Ramon Moore was the hero for Pieno Zvaigzdes, as he scored 22 points, including the go-ahead basket in overtime, while also filling the boxscore with 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Andriy Agafonov was solid with 17 points and 9 rebounds, while Giedrius Staniulis chipped in with 15 points.
Khimik 77-76 Juventus Utena
The Lithuanian side led the way for 35 minutes of basketball and had the lead and the ball with 12 seconds to go, but were still unable to close out the game. Edgaras Zelionis’ shot was blocked and Khimik converted on both free-throws to push ahead.
Edgaras Zelionis put up a great performance with 20 points and 6 rebounds for Utena, while Arminas Urbutis scored 18. Spencer Butterfield and Rolandas Alijevas ended the game with 11 points apiece, while the latter also had 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
PRIENAI – Despite losing the first three quarters, Vytautas managed to keep their unbeaten record intact after a fourth-quarter comeback saw them take an 83-81 victory against the visiting Jekabpils in Lithuania on Wednesday.
Although the Lithuanian side, now 10-0, had already guaranteed first place in Group B, avoiding a loss in the late stages of the regular season is a good sign for the team’s confidence. Meanwhile, Jekabpils dropped to a 5-5 mark.
Only two points separated the sides after the first period, with the visitors holding a slight edge. They had increased the gap to as many as seven points in the second period, but eventually finished the half up only 44-41.
Led by Tyler Larson, Jekapbils remained in front in the third quarter, but Vytautas were breathing down their necks the entire time. The guests were closer to getting the win heading into the final quarter, with the scoreboard showing 66-60 in their favor.
However, the experienced Vytautas squad mounted a comeback in the fourth period and took the lead at 71-69 with six minutes remaining in the game after a made shot by Vaidas Cepukaitis.
Although the game could have gone either way, it was the hosts who looked betted down the stretch, as they avoided the upset in front of the home crowd.
Laimonas Kisielius had a team-high 22 points and 17 rebounds for Vytautas, Sarunas Vasiliauskas scored 20 points, while Vilmantas Dilys collected 16 points for the winners.
Meanwhile, Tyler Larson scored 31 points for Jekabpils after going 7-of-11 from three-point range. Modestas Kumpys scored 17 points for the Latvian side. Quite interestingly, these two players also accounted for all 13 of 15 turnovers by the team.
PANEVEZYS – With one game remaining in the regular season, Lietkabelis clinched the first place in Group A standings with a 98-70 victory against the visiting AVIS Rapla at home in Panevezys.
The Lithuanian side managed to get revenge for the loss in Estonia earlier in the season and improved to a 10-1 record. Meanwhile, the visitors from Rapla ran out of steam on the second night of a back-to-back and dropped to 6-3.
After a close first quarter, Lietkabelis went on an 11-2 run at the start of the second period to take the control of the game into their own hands. Having finished the first half with a 40-34 advantage, the hosts continued solid play after the interval as well.
The margin grew to double digits after a fantastic third quarter for Lietkabelis, who entered the final frame with a 15-point edge at 68-53 and sealed the deal comfortably in the final ten minutes of play.
Mile Ilic and Mantas Kazonas led the winners with 14 points apiece, while Brandis Raley Ross collected 10 points. All twelve players scored for Lietkabelis.
On the other side, William Artino had a game-high 23 points and eight rebounds, while Karl Johan Lips chipped in with 11 points.
RIGA – Something like this could not have been foreseen coming into the game, as Barons/LDz used a heavy barrage of three-pointers to sink one of Group A leaders Valmiera/ORDO by an unfathomable 42-point margin at home in Riga.
Arturs Ausejs paced the winners with 36 points and seven assists, as the Riga club triumphed 111-69 and improved to a 3-7 record, while Valmiera/ORDO lost its second game in a row, dropping to a 7-3 mark.
The hosts were red-hot right from the get-go and broke away to a 30-11 advantage already after the first quarter. With the visitors from Valmiera struggling to get stops, Barons/LDz added 30 more points in the second quarter to increase their lead to 60-28 at the halftime break.
The one-sided game continued after the interval, with the home side knocking one long-range shot after another, as they not only went on to add a valuable victory, but also made a statement to the rest of the league.
Barons/LDz made 11-of-22 shots from three-point territory, with Ausejs making a team-high six and Jason Calliste adding four more on his way to 23 points. The American also added 10 boards and six assists.
For Valmiera/ORDO, Martins Laksa had a team-high 16 points and seven rebounds, while Armands Skele and Lauris Blaus added 11 points.
LIEPAJA – Liepaja/Triobet were trailing for much of the second half, but managed to overcome the deficit to take a 77-69 victory against the visiting Barsy side at the Liepaja Olympic Center on Tuesday.
The win allowed the hosts to improve to an 8-3 mark in Group B. It was the third loss in a row for Barsy, who find themselves with a 3-7 record with only a handful of games remaining.
After a relatively even first quarter of play, Liepaja/Triobet had a 22-20 edge, but Barsy were breathing down their necks the entire team. The visitors had gone up 36-28 in the second period, but a 9-0 run to end the half allowed the hosts to regain a one-point lead heading into the interval.
Barsy tried to break away once again in the third period and did so with some success, building a 56-49 gap before the final frame. However, Liepaja/Triobet did not give up and marched right back into the game with an 8-0 spurt midway through the fourth quarter.
Led by the duo of Zack Stephan and Toms Leimanis, the hosts finished the game on a strong note and, having won the final period 24-10, celebrated a victory after coming from behind.
Leimanis finished with a team-high 18 points and seven assists, Stephan collected 16 points and nine rebounds, while Khris Richard added 12 points in the win for Liepaja/Triobet.
Meanwhile, Dmitriy Klimov had 23 points for Barsy, with Michael Burwell collecting 14 points and 10 rebounds. Ryan Cook scored 13 points, grabbed nine rebounds, but turned the ball over five times.