TALLINN – If the first match-up of the BBL Playoffs is any indication of how the rest of it unfolds, we are sure to have some exciting games, as Kalev/Cramo and Lietkabelis showcased a truly nail-biting game. The Estonians managed to turn the game around in the fourth quarter and celebrated a very important 78-64 (17-16; 18-19; 17-18; 26-11) win.
The second, and final, leg of the series will be played in Panevezys on the 4th of February.
It was a neck-to-neck game straight from tip-off and the two sides traded basket after basket, while the leading side changed 7 times in the first quarter alone.
To the fans’ delight, there was more of the same in the second quarter. We saw more of the same gritty basketball for the first five minutes before Kalev/Cramo ran off to a 9-0 run. However, their lead was short-lived and Lietkabelis soon came racing back, winning the final three minutes of the half 11-1.
The Lithuanians held the game in their hands for most of the third period, as a 9-0 gave them a tangible lead. However, once again, the side in front couldn’t hold on to the lead and we were back at where we began before the final quarter.
It was all about Kalev/Cramo in the fourth quarter, however, as the home side buried four long-range bombs, combined it with terrific defense and pulled ahead by double-digits.
Five players were in double-digits for the home side, as Gregor Arbet and Rain Veideman led the way with 14 points each. Frank Elegar was a beast amongst the boards, as he set this season’s rebounding record with 20 boards. Both Elegar and Scott Machado ended the game with 12 points apiece. Erik Keedus ended the game with 10 points.
On the other side of the court, it was Evaldas Zabas leading the way with 15 points. Egidijus Dimsa added a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Ivan Nelyubov finished with 12 points and 7 rebounds.
The regular season drew to a close this week and it’s time to sum it all up. With a dozen weeks of Baltic Basketball League action already in the books, we present you the 12th volume of the BBL Weekly Review.
AWARDS. Three players earned individual accolades for their impressive play throughout the regular season. Tarvas’ Brandis Raley-Ross was named the league’s most proficient scorer, Parnu’s Ronaldas Rutkauskas received the best rebounder title, while Liepaja/Triobet’s general Andrius Mazutis was the league’s best assistman.
NUMBER ONE. After securing their seventh victory in eight games, Juventus cemented their position as the best team of the regular season. Their only loss of the season was in Liepaja, where they fell just short, 71-74.
NO HELP. In the game that cost TTU the ticket to the playoffs, the starting unit didn’t receive any significant support from their teammates, as four starters scored all of the team’s 66 points.
RECORD. In the game against Lietkabelis, Andrejs Selakovs got the lion’s share of his points at the charity stripe, as he set season records for both free-throws made and attempted, making 16 of 18 shots.
RUNS. A couple of teams recorded 12-0 runs this week, but the one that influenced the game most occurred in Rapla, where Tyco Rapla used it to finally get away from Nevezis in the fourth quarter and reach an insurmountable lead.
Despite his team’s lack of success (0 victories in 8 match-ups), Nevezis’ big man Joshua Crawford was outstanding in both games this week and becomes the BBL Weekly MVP. The center averaged 18 points, 10.5 rebounds and 5 assists in the back-to-back contests.
Previously mentioned Andrejs Selakovs lines up right behind him with the record-setting performance. The big man scored 24 points and tallied 12 rebounds, thus amassing 29 ranking points. Nevertheless, Jekabpils failed to down Lietkabelis and lost a couple spots in the final standing.
David Haughton of Tarvas is also on the list with his great performance that willed the Estonian club to a victory against Nevezis. The forward scored 20 points and tore down 9 boards in Tarvas’ fourth win.
Frank Elegar showed that he is a force to be reckoned with in his season debut. The big man recorded 16 points and 13 rebounds, as Kalev/Cramo snapped their tough three game losing streak.
Finally, closing out the top five is Giedrius Staniulis, who was the go-to guy in both of Prienai’s games. The 23-year-old averaged 16 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks, while Prienai won one of two games.
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,