As we wrap up the 11th Baltic Basketball League regular season, it’s time to announce the best individual performers in each of the three main statistical categories.
Brandis Raley-Ross was named the league’s most proficient scorer, as he helped Tarvas secure the third seed in Group C with a 4-4 record. His 20.7 average was the league’s best and it will surely be necessary in the BBL Eighth-Finals, where the Estonian club faces one of the most deadly opponents in Pieno Zvaigzdes. The swingman’s biggest scoring outburst was against Dynamo Moscow, when he racked up 35 points.
December MVP Ronaldas Rutkauskas has raked in another personal award, after it was declared that he has become the league’s best rebounder. The Parnu big man averaged 10.4 rebounds, while recording 5 double-doubles in nine games. Rutkauskas also shares the league’s season high for rebounds with 17 against Pyrinto.
Liepaja/Triobet’s general Andrius Mazutis receives the best assistman award without much competition. The Lithuanian Point Guard averaged 5.4 dimes per game and will try to lead the Liepaja side against Jekabpils in the first round of the playoffs. Mazutis is one of the five players to have reached double-digits in assists.
The Baltic Basketball League (BBL) regular season has come to an end this Wednesday evening and the playoff pairs are finally clear. In accordance with the BBL regulations, the three teams that participated in the FIBA Europe Challenge Cup - Siauliai, TU/Rock and Ventspils will take the three top
seeds (seeded respectively first, second and third based on last season’s results), while the remaining 13 spots will be shared by the first four teams from each of the three groups and the best fifth-placed team.
Respectively from the top seed down to the fourth from each group, the teams lined up like this, while Parnu became the best fifth-placed team:
- Pieno zvaigzdes, Kalev/Cramo, Pyrinto and Barons/LDz from Group A.
- Valmiera, Lietkabelis, Jekabpils and Prienai from Group B.
- Juventus, Liepaja/Triobet, Tarvas and Rapla from Group C
Following the BBL regulations, the BBL Eight-Final pairings were made based on the BBL team ranking after the regular season, with the highest ranked team paired with lowest ranked team from those to have qualified for the playoffs:
JEKABPILS – The league-best winning streak came to a halt, as Jekabpils had to face a defeat at the hands of Lietkabelis, who glided past them in the final standings. The Lithuanians came out firing and managed to take an 81-74 victory against their main Group B rivals.
TALLINN – Prienai came out victorious after an overtime drama in Tallinn, beating TLU Kalev 86-82 (18-12; 10-22; 20-25; 27-16; 11-7) to guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs.
Prienai finished the regular season in fourth place with a 5-7 record, while TLU ended up with a single victory in twelve outings.
The game was full of ups and downs for both teams and Prienai were the first ones to jump ahead, leading by six after the initial ten minutes. The tables soon turned in the second quarter though, as TLU Kalev tied the game up and then managed to grasp a small lead.
The Estonian side’s lead just grew in the second half and reached 11 before the final quarter. However, Prienai were not ready to give up just yet and came storming back with three consecutive three-pointers.
While the home side had control of a two point lead with 15 seconds on the clock, Paulius Ivanauskas hit a game-tying lay-up with the clock burning down.
The game might have gone to second overtime was it not for TLU Kalev’s multiple turnovers in crunch time. Prienai made good of their free-throws and celebrated a much-needed victory.
Domantas Seskus was impressive for the winners with 21 points, while Giedrius Staniulis, who also had 11 rebounds, and Arnas Labuckas chipped in with 17 points apiece. Dominykas Milka ended the game with 10 points.
On the other side of the court, it was Thomas Connor Droney leading the offense. He had 25 points, including three of three long range shots. Maduabum Chukwudiebere added 15 points and 6 rebounds, while Reimo Tamm and Robertas Grabauskas scored 14. The latter also added 10 rebounds to the total.
VALMIERA – TTU finished their BBL season with a tough 74-66 (18-18; 17-15; 22-18; 17-15) loss to Valmiera, leaving them the last team behind the 16 to qualify for the BBL Playoffs.
Valmiera made it six out of six at home and 10-2 in total, while TTU dropped to a 4-8 record.
It was a nip-and-tuck affair right from the get-go and the lead changed hands 10 times just in the first half. The score was all tied up after the initial 10 minutes and only two points split the teams after another ten.
However, a 11-0 run to start the second half helped the Latvians jump ahead by double-digits. TTU came close to tying the game up but were always a basket or two short.
While the game was close, Valmiera managed to keep away at a two possession distance and finally achieved victory.
Aigars Skele was the go-to guy for Valmiera, as he racked up 17 points. Justin Hurt chipped in with 16, while Vytenis Cizauskas ended the game with 13 points to his name.
Four players from the starting unit scored all TTU’s points with Joonas Jarvelainen leading the game with 25. He also added 10 rebounds to the totals. Kristjan Makke finished the game with 20 points and 8 rebounds, while Toomas Raadik had 11. Jaan Puidet was solid all-around with 10 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists.
UTENA – In the game deciding the first placed team in Group C, Juventus came out triumphant with a 92-80 (22-18; 22-20; 27-19; 21-23) victory against closest rivals Liepaja/Triobet.
Juventus finished first in the group with 7 victories in 8 games, while Liepaja/Triobet ended up one spot below with six victories.
While all three of the game‘s lead changes occurred in the first couple of minutes, the game was closer than it would seem. The two sides were separated by merely two possessions for most of the first half.
However, the Lithuanian side managed to break away after halftime. They extended their lead to 16 and were locked into the win. While the visitors managed to slightly cut into the deficit, it was all too little too late.
Saulius Kulvietis was the leading scorer for Juventus with 24 points. Edgaras Stanionis accompanied him with 15, while Ovidijus Varanauskas added 12. Arvydas Siksnius ended the game with 11 points.
Mareks Jurevicus carried Liepaja/Triobet on his shoulders with a 22-point outing. Arnolds Helmanis chipped in with 19, while Gints Antrops had 10 points to his name.
RIGA – A great second quarter performance opened up the gates for Kalev/Cramo to snap their three game losing streak, while defeating Barons/LDz 89-75 (18-23; 26-14; 26-21; 19-17).
Kalev/Cramo, who had already secured a second place finish a couple weeks ago, ends up with a 7-3 record, just a victory shy of the first spot. Meanwhile, Barons/LDz missed the opportunity to move up a place and finished in the fourth position of Group A.
The home side started the game on a higher note, racing to a 15-6 lead midway through the initial period. The margin had already reached double-digits, but before the quarter ended, Kalev/Cramo managed to cut the deficit in half and was down by only five points.
Kalev/Cramo cut loose in the second quarter, as they slowly caught up with their opponents and then blasted right past to reach a 7-point lead at halftime.
The lead just grew in the second half and once it reached double-digits, it wasn’t going anywhere. Kalev/Cramo kept a safe distance and found the way to a double-digit victory.
Frank Elegar, Armands Skele and Scott Machado were the leading scorers for the Estonian side with 16 points apiece. Elegar was also incredible under the boards, as he racked up 13 rebounds. Rain Veideman added 11 points to the tally.
For the losing side, Dmitro Gliebov was the top gunner with 17 points. Living legend Kaspars Kambala added 16 points and 7 rebounds, while Pavlo Burenko ended the game with 15 points.
RAKVERE – Tarvas forced Nevezis to their last loss this season, as they beat the visitors from Lithuania 84-77 (26-15; 18-14; 26-20; 14-28) in both of teams’ last regular season match.
Tarvas finished third in Group C with a 4-4 record, while Nevezis were dead last with no victories in eight games.
While the visitors were ahead in the initial minutes, Tarvas soon halted their dominance and after a 20-3 run were ahead with a solid lead.
The margin reached 21 points in the middle of the second period, but Nevezis managed to lower the deficit to 15 before halftime. It was Tarvas up 44-29 after two quarters. After the break, the lead slowly crept back up to the 20-point range after Rakvere’s 9-0 run.
It seemed the game was all but decided not even three quarters past tip-off, but Nevezis got off to their final storm and closed in on their opponents. However, time was not on their side and the Lithuanian side came just seven points short of victory.
For the Estonian club, it was Brandis Raley-Ross leading the charge, as the American scored 21 points and dished out 6 assists. David Haughton was just as impressive with his 20-point and 9-rebound outing. Siim Laur was also solid with 19 points including three long range bombs. Juris Umbrasko finished the game with 11 points.
Five players reached double-digit scoring for Nevezis with two four American-born athletes leading the way. Thomas Ray Davis scored 19 points and tore down 10 boards, while Joshua Crawford added respectively 18 and 10, also contributing 5 assists. Marcus Monroe had 13 points, while Roderick Camphor ended the game with 11. Lukas Brazdauskis chipped in with 10,
PASVALYS – Pieno zvaigzdes struggled to cope with Jurmala/Fenikss for two quarters but let everything out after halftime and coasted to a lopsided 95-69 (19-18; 16-18; 32-17; 28-16) victory in the Group A matchup on Wednesday evening.
The victory allowed the Lithuanians to stay atop of the group with 8 victories in ten games, while Jurmala are on the other side of the table with a 3-7 record.
It was an intense initial twenty minutes, as the lead kept on changing hands. After the first quarter, Pieno zvaigzdes could boast merely with a single-point lead and after the neck-to-neck second quarter, the same could be said about the Latvians.
However, the nail-biting match-up was decided in the third quarter, which was won by the home side 32-17.
As if that was not enough, the Lithuanians dominated in the final quarter too, as they amassed a 26-point lead.
Benjamin Brust was impressive for the winning side with 20 points, 4 rebounds and 4 steals. Michael Dixon Jr. and Laimonas Kisielius were also in the double-digit scoring range with 14 points apiece, while the prior also had 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Aidas Viskontas added 13 points, while Evaldas Kairys finished the game with 10.
For Jurmala/Fenikss there were only two players with more than ten points. Ilja Gromovs had 12 points and 8 rebounds, while Martins Laksa chipped in with 11. Ervins Jonats had 9 points, while Edgars Jeromanovs and Arturs Ausejs ended up scoring 8.
TALLINN – TTU secured a tough win against Group B rivals Prienai after a tough game at home, as they rallied to a 65-61 (13-14; 14-9; 16-18; 22-20) victory.
TTU and Prienai now share a spot with a 4-7 record.
TTU tipped the game off with an 11-2 run, but Prienai shot right back and were soon up 13-16.
TTU managed to regain control of the lead before halftime and kept hold of it. In the middle of the fourth quarter, TTU were already up by double-digits. They managed to keep Prienai at a safe distance and took the 65-61 victory.
Jaan Puidet led TTU with 13 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists. Kristjan Makke added 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Mooses Kaja and Joonas Jarvelainen added 11 points each.
Giedrius Staniulis scored 15 points and 8 rebounds, while Paulius Ivanauskas and Vidmantas Sragauskis chipped in with 11 points. Arnas Labuckas added 10 points and 8 rebounds.