Jekabpils improve to 7-2 in Prienai


PRIENAI – Despite being up by double-digits at halftime, Prienai were unable to defend home ground against Jekabpils, as they fell 69-76 (21-24; 25-12; 7-18; 16-22) in the Group B duel.

Prienai dropped to a 3-6 record with this loss, while Jekabpils sit atop the favorites to win Group B with a 7-2 record.

The teams went neck-to-neck for the greater part of the game with a couple exceptions. It was as close as it gets in the first quarter and the sides were separated by just three points after the initial ten minutes.

Prienai ran away late in the first half, as they built up a 10 point lead before the end of the first half. However, the Latvians, cheered on by a good dozen fans in enemy territory soon came back and were already up by one point after three periods.

They managed to pull ahead by 11 and didn’t let up in Prienai’s final surge.

Janis Poznaks was the go-to guy in Jekabpils’ offense, as he scored 16 points and added 6 rebounds. Rinalds Sirsnins added 15 with 2-of-9 shooting from downtown, while Pavels Veselovs ended the game with 14 points and 8 rebounds. Povilas Cukinas was solid with 12 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.

Four players were in double-digit scoring for Prienai, as Giedrius Staniulis led the way with 16 points. Paulius Ivanauskas added 15, while Domantas Seskus and Arnas Labuckas finished with 13 points apiece, while the latter also corralled 9 rebounds.

Rutkauskas leads Parnu past Barons/LDz


PARNU – Parnu has shown some improved basketball, as they racked their second consecutive victory against a tough opponent with the 83-71 (18-14; 24-22; 19-14; 22-21) victory against Barons/LDz.

Parnu has recently risen like a phoenix with two victories to make it a 3-5 record, while Barons now have a split record of 4 victories and 4 losses.

The game started very slowly as both teams struggled to find any sort of a rhythm. However, once they got going it was a nail-biting affair. The leading side changed 10 times in the first half alone and clearly nothing was set in stone after the first half despite Parnu’s six point lead.

However, the Estonians got in the groove in the third quarter and managed to build up a double-digit lead, which followed them throughout the rest of the game.

Ronaldas Rutkauskas showcased quite the performance, as he scored 20 points and corralled 16 rebounds. Sandis Silavs added 17 points, while Janis Vahter ended the game with 11 points. Rannar Raap and Renato Lindmets chipped in with 9 apiece.

Arturs Bricis was the game’s highest scorer with 21 points and 5 rebounds. Ernests Kalve added 14 points, while Gatis Jahovics finished with 9 points.

Lietkabelis edge Valga, keep run alive


PANEVEZYS – Lietkabelis improved their winning streak to six with a tough-earned 85-81 (19-21; 26-18; 24-24; 16-18) victory against Valga Maks ja Moorits on Wednesday evening.

The Lithuanians improved to an 8-2 record, while Valga have now lost 6 of their 10 games.

Lietkabelis looked like the stronger side early on, as they jumped ahead by 7 in the middle of the opening quarter, but it soon turned around, as Valga rushed ahead at the end of the period.

The lead changed hands at the start of the quarter, but ultimately, Lietkabelis were able to make some breathing room and were ahead by 6 points entering halftime.

The Lithuanian side had already reached a double-digit lead in the third quarter, but Maks ja Moorits finished the quarter strong and bounced back to only a six point deficit before the final ten minutes.

While the Lithuanians were the front-runners throughout the quarter, Valga had a chance to rise to victory in the final minute. However, they wasted it with a couple of bad turnovers and Lietkabelis celebrated the victory.

Ivan Nelyubov was the leading scorer with 21 points for Lietkabelis. He also added 5 rebounds and 6 assists. Zygimantas Jonusas only hit one of his six three-point attempts but managed to finish up with 16 points. Dainius Salenga and Evaldas Zabas added 14 points apiece, as the latter also chipped in with 7 rebounds.

Reinis Strupovics scored 25 points for the Estonian club, while Edgars Krumins and Jurijs Aleksejevs, who had respectively 7 and 8 rebounds, added 14 points each to the total.

Nevezis waste perfect chance for victory


KEDAINIAI ­– Despite putting up a great fight against one of the top teams in Group C, Nevezis fell short of their first victory, as Liepaja/Triobet snatched the 73-64 (26-21; 20-20; 27-21; 17-22) victory.

The Latvian side has 5 win in seven games and are right behind Juventus. Nevezis, on the other hand, is miles away with a 0-6 record.

Nevezis took the upper hand at the get-go, as they raced off to an 8-0 start, which, however, was short-lived. The visitors responded with a 10-0 run of their own and soon the game was back in balance. However, another 9-0 stretch allowed Liepaja/Triobet to reestablish their advantage. By the end of the quarter, the margin had shrunk to five.

Liepaja had built a solid 15-point lead in the second period, but the hosts arranged a 16-2 run and finished the quarter on level terms.

Liepaja/Triobet once again shot ahead in the third quarter and built a double-digit lead that carried over to the final ten minutes where the Latvians kept their distance for most of the quarter but allowed Nevezis to catch up when it mattered most.

With 25 seconds remaining, it was still a 7-point game, but Thomas Davis was fouled while shooting a three-pointer, then Arnolds Helmanis commited an unsportsman-like foul and Nevezis had the chance to tie the game. However, they missed one of the free-throws and followed it up by a missed three-pointer, giving the visitors the chance to seal the game.

Janis Antrops was the leading scorer for the victors, as he tallied 15 points. Edgaras Zelionis added 14, while Mareks Jurevicus finished the game with 11. Lauris Blaus and Andrius Mazutis ended the game with 9 each, while the latter also assisted his teammates 10 times and snatched 5 rebounds.

Roderick Camphor was outstanding for Nevezis, but even his 33-point and 7-rebound performance was not enough to will his team to victory. Thomas Davis scored 22 points and grabbed 5 rebounds, while Marcus Monroe added 16 points and 6 assists, but also committed 8 turnovers.

Valmiera keep TLU at the bottom


TALLINN – It proved to be an unsuccessful day for both Tallinn sides, as TLU Kalev also faced a defeat at the hands of a Latvian opponent. The hosts fell apart in the final quarter and were blown out by Valmiera 73-90 (15-17; 18-19; 18-21; 22-33).

Valmiera is atop of the rankings in Group B with seven victories in nine games, while TLU have won only once in nine outings.

Valmiera won the battle under the boards by a huge margin (47-25), and that was perhaps the main reason they finished so far ahead.

The game tipped off with both sides going neck to neck, as Valmiera only held a two point advantage after the first ten minutes. They reached a 7-point margin in the second quarter, but it was soon cut back to single-shot range.

The Latvians finally managed to cut loose in the middle of the third quarter. They gathered up a 10-point advantage and looked in great position for victory.

The margin grew gradually in the final quarter and TLU Kalev faced a 17-point defeat when it was all said and done.

Kristaps Dargais was impressive for Valmiera, as he scored 22 points and tallied 8 rebounds. Karlis Apsitis added 17 points, while Justin Hurt finished close to a double-double with 14 points and 9 rebounds. Maris Ziedins and Sam Dower Jr. scored respectively 13 and 11 points.

Robertas Grabauskas was once again a top-performer for TLU Kalev, as he amassed 24 points and 8 rebounds. Reimo Tamm helped him out with 19 points and 5 assists, while Raido Roos ended the game with 15 points.

Kalev/Cramo's slump extended in Jurmala


JURMALA – Kalev/Cramo’s woes continued in Jurmala, where the Estonians suffered a heavy blow against underdogs Jurmala/Fenikss. The hosts managed to get away with an important 69-63 (16-18; 20-15; 15-13; 21-17) win.

After starting the season off with six consecutive victories, Kalev/Cramo have now lost two games in a row, both coming from teams at the bottom of the group. Jurmala/Fenikss improved to a 2-6 record with this surprising victory.

The Estonians seemed to play soft and it showed in their free-throw totals, as the attempted merely two shots from the line.

Kalev/Cramo jumped to an early lead, as they rushed off to a 10-0 run in the middle of the initial period, thus grabbing a double-digit advantage. However, the Latvians cut the deficit in half before the end of the quarter and had already tied the game up before halftime.

The game was immensely close in the third quarter and the lead kept changing hands, but Jurmala/Fenikss managed to grasp a small margin before the start of the final quarter.

The game was still all tied at the three minute mark, but then Jurmala/Fenikss 10-0 run put the game to bed. The Estonians made their final attempt to get back into the game but was all too little too late.

Edgars Jeromanovs led the home side in scoring with 16 points. Arturs Ausejs added 13, while Ervins Jonats chipped in with 11 points and 8 rebounds.

Rolands Freimanis prolonged his great form and ended the game with a double-double – 18 points and 10 rebounds. Erik Keedus was the only other player with 10 or more points, as he tallied 13 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.

BBL Weekly Review: Volume 9


The second week of December has flown by and it was full of surprising results, impressive performances and turnarounds in team rosters. The Baltic Basketball League (BBL) helps you find everything in one place with the ninth volume of the BBL Weekly Review

RECORD. Mareks Jurevicus lit it up in Moscow, as he tied the season record for most ranking points in a game. The forward scored 29 points, tore down 8 rebounds and dished out 7 assists before being forced off the court due to five personal fouls. Liepaja/Triobet, however, were unable to head home victorious, despite Jurevicus’ 36 ranking points.

SHOCKED. Kalev/Cramo, who were previously unbeaten, faced a shocking 73-83 loss against Group A bottom-feeders Parnu this week. From this day on, there are no unbeaten teams in the entire league.

FIVE STRAIGHT. It’s been a rough stretch for two teams in Group C, as Nevezis and Tyco Rapla hold the longest losing streaks in the league with a five-game drought. While the latter started the season off with three victories, Nevezis are the only ones to not have won a single game.

TRANSFERS. Lietkabelis have won their last five games and now hold the biggest winning streak in the league, but this wasn’t the biggest piece of news for the team’s fans. The Lithuanian club lost two big pieces of their roster in Zygimantas Janavicius and Vytenis Cizauskas, who departed respectively for Lietuvos Rytas and Valmiera.

RUNS. Barons/LDz were responsible for the biggest run this week, as they used a 13-0 run to put the game against Jurmala/Fenikss to bed and grab the 90-75 victory.

It is no surprise that with a record-setting performance he had this week Mareks Jurevicus becomes this week’s MVP. As mentioned before, the Liepaja/Triobet had 29 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists – a total of 36 ranking points.

Another Latvian on the list is Jekabs Rozitis of Barons/LDz. The big man was mostly responsible for his team’s victory against Jurmala/Fenikss, as he scored 22 points and contributed 13 rebounds, thus amassing 33 ranking points.

Ervins Jonats was on the other side of the matchup, as the Jurmala/Fenikss forward contributed a very similar performance. He also had 22 points and 13 rebounds and it all summed up to 31 ranking points.

Brandis Raley Ross is clearly aiming for the December MVP trophy as he followed up on his 35-point performance last week with a similar outing against Juventus. The swingman had 28 points and 5 rebounds but Tarvas ultimately fell against Juventus.

Closing the top five is Justin Hurt, who made his BBL debut just last week. The small forward played a vital role in Valmiera’s offense against Prienai, as he scored game-high 26 points and chipped in with 6 rebounds and 4 assists – 27 ranking points in total.

Seared Lietkabelis triumph in Prienai


PRIENAI – Despite having lost two vital players in Vytenis Cizauskas and Zygimantas Janavicius, who went on to join Valmiera and Lietuvos Rytas respectively, Lietkabelis led throughout the game in Prienai and surged to a 75-62 (20-10; 19-21; 15-19; 21-12) victory.

Lietkabelis jumped atop of Group B with 7 victories and 2 losses to their name. Prienai fell to a 3-5 record and are now fifth in the group.

Although Prienai did not lead for a single second, the game was closer than one could imagine. Both teams started the game slowly and with three minutes played the score was still just 2-0. However, Lietkabelis soon got thing going and were up by double-digits at the end of the quarter.

The margin had already reached 16 points at one stage, but by the end of the quarter Prienai cut it back to single-digits.

They kept on closing in in the second half as well and with 10 minutes left until the final buzzer it was just a 4-point game. However, that’s as close as they got to victory, as Lietkabelis’ lead kept on rising and was back at 13 at the end of regulation.

Ivan Nelyubov was the top-scorer for the visitors with 16 points. Noah Dahlman added 13 points and 9 rebounds, while Dainius Salenga and Jurica Zuza ended the game with 12 apiece. Zygimantas Jonusas had 10 points and 8 rebounds to his name.

Meanwhile, Ovidijus Varanauskas led the hosts with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, while Paulius Ivanauskas chipped in with 10. Vidmantas Sragauskis and Giedrius Staniulis both ended the game with 9 points.

Freimanis: "It all comes down to our teamwork"


Kalev/Cramo’s Rolands Freimanis was dominant throughout November and to no surprise, became the second player to win the BBL monthly MVP award this season.

The 26-year-old played a key role in helping Kalev/Cramo stay undefeated in the month of November, as they faced two of the top teams in Group A. Throughout those two games, Freimanis averaged 19 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists. had a minute with Freimanis and he was happy to tell us a bit about his team's mentality, his training regime and his Latvian national team experience.

Congratulations on the achievement, Rolands! What does an award like this mean to you?
I’m happy that I received this award and it’s clearly a big honor for me. But I want to say thanks to my teammates and coaching staff, who put me in the position to succeed. And only because of them we started the season so well.

As you mentioned, Kalev/Cramo has had a terrific season so far, winning all their games in the Baltic Basketball League and the Estonian League, while displaying solid results in the VTB League. What has been the key to this success?
The key to our success is that we are working hard and trying to get better every single day. We play hard on defense and try to apply our strengths on offense. The coaches do a great job guiding us, motivating us and trying to prepare us for every game as well as possible. It all comes down to splendid teamwork.

In three adjectives, how would you describe the Kalev/Cramo team? 
We’re aggressive defensively, confident in our capabilities and a group of guys who never give up.

What do you think is the ceiling of this team and what are your expectations for the year – both personally and as a team? 
Our main goal is to give 110% every game no matter who our opponent is and fight till the very end. I believe we can accomplish big things this year in every league we are playing. Personally, my main goal is to help the team achieve as much as possible and just help the team win.

You played in the third division of Spain just a couple of years ago, later moved to Italy’s top league, played in the Eurocup with Khimik. Now you compete in a couple of international tournaments with Kalev/Cramo. What direction do you see your career moving in in the next couple of years? What are your aspirations and goals? 
It’s hard to say really. I try to take it day by day and just get better every game. I think I have everything required to become a really good player. All I have to do is stay focused and work hard.  

You’ve also played for the Latvian National Team for the last half of a decade. What does this opportunity mean to you and how has it helped your game? 
First and foremost, it is a very big honor for me and I love everything about the Latvian national team. We grow year by year and I believe that the best is yet to come for Latvian basketball. 

Who was your basketball idol or role model growing up? Whose game style do you take after? 
My number one guy is Kobe Bryant, but I try to be myself and work on it both on and off the court. 

Talking about your game – where do you think you need the most improvement and what has been the focal point of your practices throughout the season and over the summer? 
I need work on my defense and rebounding. While I think I’ve gotten better in both these aspects, there is still a lot of room for improvement. During my summers I try to work a little bit on everything, but this year my focal point was my post game. 
And last but not least – the fans. Kalev/Cramo is second in attendance with over a thousand fans lining up for every game. How much of a boost does it give to the players when you know you’ve got such a big group chanting and cheering for you?
The fans here in Tallinn are great! It may be a bit cliché, but they really are our 6th man on the court! No matter what, we can feel their support each and every game. It’s safe to say that Tallinn loves basketball!

Liepaja's run not enough in Moscow


Moscow – Dynamo Moscow held their own against one of the group leaders in Liepaja/Triobet, as they managed to squeak by with a 100-93 (21-15; 27-21; 19-29; 33-28) victory on Friday evening.

The season series is all tied up now, since the Latvians were victorious in the first match-up between these two sides, as they took an 84-76 home victory.

Liepaja/Triobet still sits amongst the leaders of Group C with a 5-2 record, while the Russian side now controls a 3-5 record.

Dynamo had the edge from the initial minutes, as they started the game dominating on both sides of the court and were up 19-5 not even through the first quarter. However, the Latvians mounted an 8-0 run and cut the gap to six before the end of the first quarter.

Dynamo soon raised their lead back to double-digits and managed to keep hold of it until the halftime break.

Liepaja/Triobet came storming back in the second half. Although with three minutes played in the third quarter, the margin had already reached 18 points, the Latvians dominated the rest of the period and entered the final quarter with only a two-point deficit.

Dynamo held initiative for most of the final quarter nevertheless. With six minutes played, Dynamo were up by 9, but the Latvians crept up and made it a three-point game. However, a couple of turnovers killed the run and Dynamo celebrated the tough victory.

Alimdzan Fediushin led Dynamo Moscow with 19 points and 8 rebounds, Denis Zakharov chipped in with 18 points and 6 assists, while Pavel Gromyko added 14. Aleksandr Fomin ended the game with 14 points.

Mareks Jurevicus was the performer of the night with 29 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Kristaps Miglinieks added 21 points, while Lauris Blaus finished with 15 points. Edgaras Zelionis was also in double-digits with 12 points.