VALMIERA – Heading into its twelfth season, the Baltic Basketball League will announce its new title sponsor before the season-opening game between Valmiera/ORDO and AVIS Rapla at the Vidzeme Olympic Center on Tuesday.
Although the game itself is set to tip off in the evening, fans are invited to show up early as the day’s events will commence much earlier.
To mark the start of the new partnership, a charity game will be played between the title sponsor’s team, featuring famous personalities, and a united team of BBL staff and journalists. A donation of €1,000 will be awarded to a charity, chosen by the winning side.
Following the friendly game, the new title sponsor of the league will be officially presented to the media in a press conference, which will finish with both sides signing the partnership agreement.
The game between Valmiera/ORDO and AVIS Rapla will feature plenty of in-game entertainment, including cheerleaders and a special game for during the halftime break.
Like most BBL games played in Latvia this season, the season-opening duel will be shown live on SportaCentrs.com.
BBL season-opening schedule (Tuesday, October 13):
- 16:00 Title Sponsor vs BBL charity game
- 17:30 Press conference to announce new BBL title sponsor
- 18:30 Valmiera/ORDO vs AVIS Rapla
The regulations for the 2015-16 Baltic Basketball League campaign were confirmed in a Board meeting held in Riga on September 6. The upcoming BBL Regular Season, set to start on October 13, will feature 14 teams from four different countries, with five more clubs potentially joining from the BBL Play-Offs.
The five Baltic teams — Siauliai, Ventspils, Juventus, Tartu Rock, Pieno Zvaigzdes — that will play in the new FIBA Europe competition will join starting from the BBL Eight-Final round if they do not qualify for the FIBA Europe Play-Offs.
The remaining 14 teams will be divided into two groups of seven teams and will play in a round robin format, which will see each team faces their group opponents twice – home and away.
The Kazakhstan team Barsy Atyrau will play only a few games at home, with the remaining matches played away during the BBL Regular Season.
Eleven teams (teams placed 1st – 5th in each group and the best 6th placed team) will qualify for the BBL Eight-Finals. The remaining teams with the highest ranking after the BBL Regular Season will have the chance to participate in the Play-Offs, if less than five teams from FIBA Europe competition participate in the BBL Eight-Finals.
In determining Play-Off pairs, last season’s ranking will apply to the teams participating in the FIBA Europe competition. As champions, Siauliai will get the lowest-ranked opponent, Ventspils, Juventus, Rock and Pieno Zvaigzdes will be second, third, fourth and fifth on the list respectively.
In all Play-Off stages, the competition will be conducted in a two-game home and away format, with the team with the best aggregate score advancing to the next round.
The final standings will be determined in BBL Finals and BBL bronze-medal series, also in the same format.
More than 80 games of the 2015-16 BBL season will be shown live online at DELFI TV and SportaCentrs.com, with the best BBL Play-Off games also broadcasted by Viasat Sport Baltic.
UTENA – The last award of the season was handed out in Utena, where Juventus overcame a big disadvantage to triumph to fall just short in the bronze final with a 62-51 (14-18; 14-6; 18-10; 16-18) victory over Tartu Rock.
The Estonians had won the first game at home 72-63 after a big comeback and Juventus needed a double-digit advantage today to make sure the trophy stayed in Utena.
Tartu Rock opened the game with a couple of easy baskets to establish a six point lead. While the margin kept swinging high and low, it was apparent that Tartu was the more organized side in the first quarter. While the margin was only four points, the 13-point aggregate deficit looked menacing.
The small break didn’t seem to help Juventus much, as the offense remained stagnant. Luckily, their opponents didn’t have much firepower on the offensive end either; and after 3 minutes it was a 20-16 lead for Tartu. However, the tables quickly turned and by the end of the half, the home team was only down by 5 on the combined score-sheet.
Juventus opened the quarter with a series of successful plays on both ends of the court and were suddenly up by double-digits. Tartu ended up being on the outside looking in on the combined score-sheet after three quarters, as they faced a combined three-point deficit entering the final ten minutes.
It was a neck-to-neck fourth quarter, as the two sides traded bucket for bucket, the margin balancing between 8 and 10 points. With 30 seconds to go, Rashaun Broadus couldn't convert on the and-one and Tartu Rock answered back, jumping ahead by one with a mid-range jumper.
The home team managed to convert a tough shot and Tartu had 11 seconds to answer back. However, their last attempt went just wide.
SIAULIAI – The season finally reached its culmination in Siauliai, where the winners of the past two championships faced off for the 2014-2015 Champion’s trophy. Since Ventspils had won the first game by two points, Siauliai’s 88-80 (18-17; 14-21; 29-19; 13-15; 14-8) victory was just barely enough.
The game was opened with two easy baskets from both of the finalists, followed by a couple of improbable dunks. The tug of war continued throughout the remaining minutes and it was the home side ahead 18-17 after the first frame.
The Latvians managed to create some breathing room in the initial part of the second period, as they pushed ahead by five. Considering their two-point first game disadvantage, Siauliai were already facing a 7-point deficit. Just as soon as the home team spiked back, Ventspils once again set up a three-possession advantage.
The home side kept turning the ball over at the beginning of the second half and it resulted in Ventspils’ first double-digit lead. And just as the game seemed to be getting out of hand, Siauliai pinned the visitors down with a 13-2 run that ignited the crowd and brought back the tension into the game.
As we entered the final stage, it was already Siauliai with the aggregate lead. The home side, led by Rokas Giedraitis, continued their long-range supremacy and finally reached a palpable, seven-point lead. Nevertheless, nothing was yet written in stone and Ventspils had a couple more minutes to erase the small deficit.
That's exactly what they did and with a minute remaining, was all tied up on aggregate score. It all dragged down to the last possession, where Siauliai missed the chance to finish it all in 40 minutes.
The Lithuanians opened the overtime powerfully, dominating both offensively and defensively and pushed the advantage to 82-74 with three minutes on the clock. Ventspils made a run back, but Rokas Giedraitis put the final nail in the coffin with another three-point bomb.
Gintaras Leonavicius was chosen the finals series' MVP, as he led the team to their first trophy.
VENTSPILS – The first game of the Baltic Basketball League finals proved to be just as exciting, as could be expected, with a nail-biting finish to top it off. Ventspils had the home-court advantage and only managed to take two points out of it, winning 70-68 (19-17; 15-15; 16-17; 20-19) against defending champions Siauliai.
The Lithuanians got off to a quick start, as they scored the first six point of the game. Nevertheless, it was all answered back shortly and the two sides continued trading bucket after bucket. Ventspils closed out the first frame with two successful possessions and jumped ahead by two points.
Despite a monstrous posterizing dunk by Modestas Kumpys in the early stages of the second quarter, nothing much after the first ten minutes. The two teams held each other by the neck and didn’t allow even the slightest of breathing space. As the minimal lead swung back and forth, Ventspils stayed on top by the same two points before halftime.
The Latvians got a couple of consecutive plays to go their way and managed to build a game-high 6-point lead, which all evaporated right before the final period, mostly due to Siauliai’s hustle plays and second-chance points.
Siauliai seemed to be the side in control of the pace in the last quarter, as Karolis Babkauskas opened it up with a trey, but even that didn’t help them create any sort of advantage. The nerves seemed to be kicking in and the final minutes were nail-biting to say the least. The crowd went wild when Ventspils finally managed to jump ahead, but their enthusiasm was cut short by Julius Jucikas’ slam dunk.
The score was all tied up at 68 with just 45 seconds to go and Harvey Grant pushed the advantage to the Latvian team’s favor. Siauliai had the perfect opportunity to even the score but just couldn’t convert on either of their two last-seconds shots.
Harvey Jeray Grant was the leading scorer and rebounder for Ventspils, as he tallied respectively 14 and 9. Kristaps Janicenoks was solid with 11 points to his name, while Akselis Vairogs and Maris Gulbis chipped in with 9 apiece.
Julius Jucikas and Gintaras Leonavicius led Siauliai with 14 points each, while Vytautas Sulskis was just a point short of a double-double. The team's captain scored 9 points and added 10 rebounds.
TARTU – In a game full of ups and downs, Tartu Rock managed to outlast Juventus and jumped ahead in the bronze final series. The Estonians were down double digits but managed to overcome the deficit and celebrated a 72-63 (15-24; 15-15; 27-13; 15-11) victory.
The visitors came out hot and firing with all cylinders and quickly mounted a big lead. Not even midway past the opening frame, Juventus already had an 11-point advantage. They managed keep the tempo up and entered the second quarter up by 9.
The second part of the first half, unlike the first, was much closer and the two teams traded possession for possession. The margin after two quarters stayed the same – 9 points.
The game turned upside-down in the third quarter, as Rock drained basket after basket and a 14-0 run entitled them to a 5-point advantage after the third frame.
The margin grew even more at the start of the final period, as the Estonians tipped the quarter off with another 7 consecutive points. Nevertheless, Juventus did not lay they arms down just yet and responded with a 7-0 run of their own. The sudden drama was toned down by Tanel Kurbas’ long-range bomb.
Tartu had an 8-point advantage with a minute remaining on the clock and Juventus’ priorities switched to just trimming down the margin as much as possible. However, even that task failed, as the Lithuanians kept missing out on great opportunities. They now face a 9-point deficit in the uphill battle at home.
Janar Talts was the clear MVP of the game, as he tallied an impressive double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds. Joosep Toome added 14 points, while Tanel Kurbas and Augustas Peciukevicius finished the game with 10 points apiece.
Rashaun Broadus was a nuisance for Tartu’s defense, as he used his supreme quickness to pile up 19 points. Vaidas Cepukaitis added 12 points and 9 rebounds to the mix, while Egidijus Dimsa ended the game with 11 points. Arvydas Siksnius was also in double-digit scoring with 10 points in his account.
UTENA – Siauliai did not manage to come back from Utena with a victory but that didn’t stop them from making it to the finals. The two sides drew at 60-60 (16-16; 14-8; 12-18; 18-18) but since Siauliai had won the first leg 73-69, they are the ones going through.
Utena’s early surge looked promising, as they mounted a 7-point advantage midway through the first quarter. Nevertheless, Siauliai responded with a 7-0 run to close out the quarter and the two sides were all tied up after the first 10 minutes.
The two sides traded baskets back and forth throughout the quarter but this time Siauliai were the ones to close out the period stronger and enjoyed a 6-point advantage at halftime.
The margin soon vanished and before the last quarter, the sides were once again level at 42.
Siauliai opened the final frame with a 7-point streak and Juventus had trouble finding a way back. The final minute was a free-throw shoot-out and the winner couldn’t be decided even with it.
Julius Jucikas was unstoppable for the defending champions with 27 points and 8 rebounds to his name. Gintaras Leonavicius chipped in with 10 points, while Rokas Giedraitis finished the game with 9 points.
Meanwhile, on the Juventus squad, Rashaun Broadus was the leading scorer with 22 points. Simas Buterlevicius added 12 points and 7 rebounds, while Arvydas Siksnius ended the outing with 10 points. Saulius Kulvietis was responsible for 7 points and 11 boards.
TARTU – Ventspils continue to make strides towards the ultimate goal – the first championship of the season – with another semifinals victory on Tuesday evening. They had a huge advantage prior to the game but managed to win the second one too and defeated TU/Rock 76-72 (18-24; 25-17; 17-18; 16-13).
Tartu Rock made a small statement early on, when they jumped ahead by seven points.The series seemed to have gained some traction and the intensity in the arena was as high as ever.
Nevertheless, Ventspils answered back in the second quarter and were soon on level terms with the home team.
The victor hadn't been decided after three quarters, as only one point separated the two sides. Although the finalist had already been decided with Ventspils' first game victory, the two sides settled it all in the fourth quarter, battling for honor.
The Latvians managed to get away and secured a tangible lead midway through the period. They coasted to the finish line and now await their final opponent.
Janar Talts was unstoppable, but even that didn’t save Tartu. He scored 20 points and added 10 rebounds. Valmo Kriisa chipped in with 14 points, while Tanel Sokk ended the game with 11.
Martins Meiers was the leading scorer for Ventpsils with 15 points. Both Zanis Peiners and Maris Gulbis had 11, while Artis Ate ended the match with 10.
SIAULIAI – As expected, it was a narrow finish in the Lithuanian derby between Siauliai and Juventus, yet the home side managed to get away with a four point win, 73-69 (18-15; 18-16; 15-21; 22-17). They will have a small advantage before the return game on the 22nd in Utena.
It was a nip-and-tuck affair right from the get-go and it was obvious how badly both sides want to win it. With a quarter gone, three points separated the two clubs, as Siauliai held on to an 18-15 lead.
Juventus eventually evened the score in the second period, but Siauliai played out the final minutes of the half very efficiently and regained control of the game with a small, yet very valuable five point lead.
Siauliai mounted their biggest lead of the game in the third quarter, when it reached 9 points and while it was the home side in the leading role for most of the game, it all turned around late in the third frame. Not only did the visitors trim the margin, they even managed to take a one-point lead before the final ten minutes.
Juventus locked down their opponents and it seemed they were on the highway to victory, as their lead reached 9 points midway through the fourth quarter. But once again, the tables turned and Siauliai came running back. They ended the game with a 15-2 run and were happy to have gotten out of this sticky situation.
Rokas Giedraitis was the highlight performer tonight, as he carried the victors with 20 points. Gintaras Leonavicius chipped in with 13, while Rolandas Alijevas, Julius Jucikas and Vytautas Sulskis ended the game with 10 points apiece. While the starting unit took care of most of the scoring responsibilities, the bench only added another 10 points.
The scoring for Juventus was a bit more spread out throughout the roster, as Rashaun Broadus and Nikita Barinov led the way with 13 points. Simas Buterlevicius added 10, while Arvydas Siksnius finished with 8 points in his account.
VENTSPILS – Ventspils continued their undefeated showcase in the Baltic Basketball League playoffs with an impressive 74-49 (24-13; 16-12; 12-13; 22-11) victory over visiting Tartu Rock in the first leg of the semifinals.
Right from the get-go, it was Ventspils jumping ahead. The Latvians used a 10-0 spurt to take an early lead and continued to build on it throughout the quarter. By the time, the first ten minutes had passed the home side enjoyed a 24-13 advantage.
The visitors found themselves in a huge hole and digging even deeper when the gap between the two clubs reached 18. Only a three-pointer before halftime managed to slightly cut into the deficit.
After an amazing first-half showcase, Ventspils slowed down a bit in the second and TU/Rock tried to use it to get back into the game. Nevertheless, the Estonian club’s offense was a bit toothless and they just couldn’t break the game.
While the margin floated around 12 points, a nice Ventspils’ run set things to its own place. The Latvian side amassed a 20-point advantage midway through the final quarter and the winner was all but clear.
Kristaps Janicenoks led Ventspils with 15 points, while Harvey Grant had 14. Martins Meiers and Artjoms Butjankovs chipped in with respectively 13 and 11 points.
Tanel Sokk was the go-to guy for Rock and was the only player to reach double-digit scoring with 11 points. Joosep Toome was the second-highest scorer with only 7 points.
The return match will be played on the 17th of March in Tartu.