BBL Weekly Review: Volume 5


Throughout the week, there have been some wondrous plays, some magical comebacks and, clearly, some outstanding performances. The Baltic Basketball League (BBL) presents you the fifth volume of the BBL Weekly Review to help round it all out.

NO BENCH. Not often do we see a game, where the bench players leave no mark in the game, but we witnessed just that in Kedainiai, where Nevezis’ substitutes had 0 (zero!) points against Tarvas! Despite that, the Lithuanians kept the game close, but ultimately were forced to face a 70-76 defeat.

GOING STRONG. Only two teams now remain unbeaten in the league after the fifth week, as Pieno zvaigzdes were finally forced to an overtime defeat against Kalev/Cramo, who, alongside Juventus have respectively five and four victories with no losses.

NO VICTORIES. While two teams have yet to suffer a defeat, there are three teams in the league that have not yet felt the joy of victory, as Dynamo Moscow, Nevezis and Jurmala/Fenikss combine for a 0-12 record.

COMEBACK. Pieno zvaigzdes created a small miracle in Tallinn this week, when they rushed back to erase a 7-point deficit in a matter of seconds. They were not as lucky in the overtime, though.

SIRSNINS COUNTER. Once again Rinalds Sirsnins is letting it fly, as the guard launched 8 three-pointers against TLU Kalev, making two. However, this result actually shrunk his three-point attempt average to 10.8 per game. Nevertheless, it must be mentioned that not only is he amongst the top ten scorers, but he is also third on the assisting ladder and twelfth in overall efficiency.

Ovidijus Varanauskas is this week’s MVP, as he shined in Prienai’s first BBL victory this year, as he scored 20 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and dished out 6 assists, summing to a 30-ranking-point performance.

Rolands Freimanis was just as impressive for Kalev/Cramo, as his 21-point, 15-rebound performance helped dismantle previously undefeated Pieno zvaigzdes after overtime.

Giedrius Staniulis, another Prienai athlete, was a great sidekick for Varanauskas, as he took matters in the paint into his own hands and collected a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Fourth on the list is Parnu big man Ronaldas Rutkauskas, who had 17 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists in the win against Jurmala/Fenikss.

Rashaun Broadus of Juventus closes out the list with a great performance in the blowout victory against Tarvas. The guard had 15 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists and led the Lithuanian team to their fourth straight victory.

Jurmala/Fenikss kept win-less in Parnu


PARNU – Parnu erased an early double-digit deficit and went on to celebrate a 78-68 (15-27; 26-9; 24-18; 13-14) victory on Wednesday evening.

Parnu secured their first victory and now hold a 1-2 record. Jurmala/Fenikss, on the other hand, have now lost five straight.

Jurmala had the upper hand in the first quarter and were soon up by double-digits. However, the hosts went firing back in the second quarter and used a big run not only to erase the deficit but also grab a five-point advantage before the break.

After halftime, I was Parnu in control, as they pushed their lead to 11. Jurmala could not diminish the lead and the Estonians celebrated an important first victory.

Ronaldas Rutkauskas was impressive with 17 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists for Parnu. Silver Leppik and Sandis Silavs contributed 15 apiece, while the latter also dished out 8 assists. Elgar Tamsalu scored 12, as Taavi Hamarsalu finished the game with 10 points.

Ervins Jonats led the way for Jurmala/Fenikss, as he collected 16 points. Ugis Pinete added 10, while Arturs Ausejs had 9 points.

Jekabpils come back to win it in Tallinn


TALLINN – Jekabpils made a great comeback to secure a victory against TLU Kalev on Wednesday evening, as they brushed the Estonians aside in the fourth quarter to post a 72-66 (19-18; 11-15; 15-21; 27-12) win. 

Jekabpils are now very solid with four victories in five games, while TLU are bottom-feeders of Group B with only one victory in five match-ups.

Neither team could take control of the game in the first quarter, as the margin was never larger than 3 points and the visiting side held a single-points advantage.

It all changed in the second quarter, when TLU ran off to a 9-0 run and jumped ahead by eight. However, the away side managed to close out the quarter stronger and was back in the game before halftime.

TLU Kalev had everything in control in the third quarter, as they gradually built up a 59-47 lead throughout the third quarter and the start of the fourth. But everything turned around drastically when Jekabpils used an 11-0 run to level the game. The visitors took care of the ball in the final moments and celebrated an exciting comeback victory.

Povilas Cukinas led Jekabpils in both scoring and rebounding with 16 points and 9 boards. Rinalds Sirsnins went 2-of-8 from long range and chipped in with 14 points and 6 assists. Edgars Stelmahers and Martins Kravcenko finished the game with 9 points each, as the latter also had 7 rebounds.

Reimo Tamm was the leader for TLU, as he scored 19 points. Robertas Grabauskas added 13 points and 8 rebounds, while Ivar Tulit chipped in with 11. Raido Roos ended the game with 8 points and 7 rebounds.

Prienai finally nab their first victory


PRIENAI – Last season’s runner-ups Prienai finally managed to get their first victory and did it in style, as they surged past Valga Maks ja Moorits 92-69 (23-17; 23-22; 18-18; 28-12) late in the game on Wednesday evening.

The Lithuanians now have one victory and three losses, while Maks ja Moorits have dropped to a 2-3 record.

Prienai already made an attempt to run away early on, as the gathered a double digit lead in the first quarter. The Estonians, however, soon came right back.

Prienai kept course and throughout the whole second quarter, kept a three-four possession lead.

Early on in the second half, it was the home side that mounted a run and midway through the third quarter, they were already up by 15. A couple of three-pointers by Maris Laksa helped Maks ja Moorits trim the lead to just seven before the final quarter.

It was all settled when the home side ran away with a 16-to-nothing run throughout the fourth quarter, as the Lithuanians amassed a truly insurmountable lead.

Vidmantas Sragauskis led Prienai in scoring with 23 points, while Ovidijus Varanauskas shined with 20 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Giedrius Staniulis chipped in with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Dominykas Milka scored 12 points.

Jurijs Aleksejevs tallied a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds, while Maris Laksa was the only other player in double-digit scoring for Valga with 14.

Kalev/Cramo deny Pieno zvaigzdes' miracle comeback


TALLINN – What a game we witnessed in Estonia, where two teams yet to suffer defeat battled in Tallinn Arena, as Pieno zvaigzdes, who defeated Pyrinto the day before, managed to perform a miracle comeback, but fell short of Kalev/Cramo to suffer a 96-84 (29-17; 6-24; 28-18; 18-22; 15-3) overtime loss.

Kalev/Cramo now are the lone leaders of Group A with 5 victories and no losses, while Pieno zvaigzdes are right behind with a 4-1 record.

It truly was a game of runs, as the Estonians won the first quarter by 12 with a late 13-0 stretch, but were absolutely destroyed in the second quarter, which they lost 24-6.

It was a 15-0 run to end the first half for Pieno zvaigzdes that helped them get back in the game and actually jump ahead by six points.

However, Kalev/Cramo showed some fresher legs and battled back and eventually tied the game up and then pulled ahead. Four points separated the two teams entering the final quarter.

While the Estonians had the upper hand and a 7 point lead with just over a minute on the clock, Pasvalys had yet to say the final word.

Benjamin Brust knocked down a three-pointer, Scott Machado missed a free-throw, Laimonas Kisielius drained another three-pointer – Kalev/Cramo missed another free-throw and the margin was now only three-points with the ball in the hands of Pieno zvaigzdes. Yet another three-pointer reached the bottom of the net and the game was all tied up. The hosts couldn’t make anything of the ten remaining seconds ant regulation ended with the score all tied up at 81.

Kalev/Cramo did not joke around during overtime, as they won the extra period 15-3 and celebrated a tough victory.

Rolands Freimanis was unstoppable in the paint, as he gathered 21 points and 15 rebounds. Armands Skele added 16 points, while Scott Machado had 15. Erik Keedus and Mindaugas Kupsas amassed 14 each, while Gregor Arbet finished the game with 10 points to his name.

Alexander Oriakhi led the Lithuanian side in scoring with 14 points, while Benjamin Brust and Laimonas Kisielius chipped in with 10 apiece. Osvaldas Olisevicius , Gytis Sirutavicius and Evaldas Kairys ended the game with 9 each.

Juventus thrash Tarvas


UTENA – Juventus used a huge second quarter run to destroy visiting Tarvas, who played their second game in two nights, 91-63 (18-17; 29-9; 19-18; 25-19) on Wednesday evening in the Group C match-up.

Juventus continue to impress, as they now hold a 4-0 record. Tarvas, on the other hand, stumbled for the second time and have now lost two games in five tries.

For most of the first quarter, the Estonian side was ahead by a very small margin, but Juventus closed out the quarter strong with 5 consecutive points and were leading by one.

The fate of the game was decided in the following ten minutes, as Tarvas kept missing shot after shot and committing multiple turnovers. Juventus ran off to a 21-4 run and delivered a knock-out punch to the visitors.

While the sides traded baskets in the third quarter it was clearly beneficial only to the hosts, as they burned down the minutes until the final buzzer. Tarvas could not close down on their opponents and suffered a huge loss.

Edgaras Stanionis was the leading scorer for the Lithuanians, as he tallied 18 points. Arvydas Siksnius added 17, while Rashaun Broadus contributed 15 points and 8 rebounds. Nikita Barinov and Simas Butelevicius ended the game with 12 apiece.

Martin Jurtom led Tarvas in scoring with 12, while David Haughton chipped in with 10. Sten-Timmu Sokk finished the game with 9 to his name.

TTU no match for Valmiera


TALLINN – There wasn’t much drama in TTU Sporthall, where Valmiera, a faced TTU, as the visitors ran away in the initial quarter and cruised to an 83-59 (29-11; 20-14; 13-15; 21-19) victory in the Group B clash on Wednesday evening.

Valmiera are amongst the group leaders with 4 victories and only 1 loss, while TTU now hold a 2-3 record.

A 14-0 run in the middle of the first quarter set the game into the right track for the Latvian side as they amassed a double-digit lead due to terrific long-range shooting. Valmiera showed no mercy and the lead kept on growing – after the first ten minutes, they were ahead 29-11.

Although not even halfway through the game, it seemed all said and done, as Valmiera’s lead jumped to an astonishing 28 points.

The margin did not really shrink in the third quarter and Valmiera entered the final ten minutes with an insurmountable 22-point lead.

The fourth quarter was merely a formality, as the visiting side coasted to the strong victory.

Marcis Vitols led the way for Valmiera with 21 points, while Viktros Iljins contributed a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds. Kristaps Dargais ended the game with 12 and 6.

For the losing side, Andrew Arnold and Kristjan Makke were the two leading scorers, as they tallied respectively 17 and 10 points.

Pyrinto stumble again, drop to 2-3


TAMPERE – Pieno zvaigzdes continued their successful BBL season on Tuesday evening, as they stayed perfect with an 82-73 (22-17; 15-21; 28-17; 17-18) victory against Pyrinto in the Group A clash.

Pasvalys tied Kalev/Cramo for the first spot in Group A with 4 victories and 0 losses, while Pyrinto slipped to a 2-3 record.

The two teams traded the lead for the first nine minutes of the game, before Benjamin Brust nailed 5 points with the clock running down to give Pieno zvaigzdes a 5-point edge after the first quarter.

Mostly with the outstanding plays by Damon Williams on both ends of the floor, the home side finally regained the fragile single-point lead at the end of the first half.

Pieno zvaigzdes finally made a minor breakthrough at the end of the third quarter, as they sparked a 9-1 run to get some breathing with the double-digit lead before the final ten minutes.

After a couple turnovers to start off the fourth quarter, Pyrinto saw their deficit reach 15 and while they had a couple attempts to reduce the gap, it all turned to nothing and Pieno zvaigzdes celebrated their fourth straight victory.

Benjamin Brust led the Lithuanian side in scoring with 17 to his name, while Osvaldas Olisevicius was not far behind with 16. Gytis Sirutavicius and Alexander Oriakhi were also in double-digits with 14 points apiece.

Will Harris highlighted Pyrinto’s performance with 19 points and 10 rebounds, as Tyrone Kent and Damon Williams ended the game with 13 apiece. Topias Palmi chipped in with 9.

Nevezis minutes short of first victory


KEDAINIAI ­– Tarvas finally took care of undermanned Nevezis only late in the fourth quarter, as they surged to a 76-70 (18-19; 13-17; 21-21; 24-13) away victory on Tuesday evening.

Tarvas improved to 3-1 with the victory, while Nevezis struck out for the fourth time, as they fell to a 0-4 record.

The game kicked off slowly, as the two teams turned the ball over time and time again. With nearly four minutes played, the score was still tied at four. However, the pace soon picked up and the quarter ended with a 19-18 Nevezis lead.

The Lithuanian side finally managed to get ahead by a slight margin, as Marcus Monroe scored five consecutive points. Nevertheless, the game was very much intact and only five points separated the two sides at halftime.

Not much changed after the break, as Nevezis kept hold of the minor lead for the whole third quarter. And there were only two minutes left when Tarvas finally regained the lead with two consecutive three-pointers. The tired Nevezis could not trim the margin and ended the game down six.

Brandis Raley Ross’ 21 points led the way for Tarvas. Mario Paiste contributed 13 including 3-of-3 from long range, while Sten-Timmu Sokk and David Haughton ended the game with 12 points apiece. The latter also collected 13 rebounds.

Only the starting five had any contributions in scoring, as Roderick Camphor and Marcus Monroe stood out with 17 points each, also tallying respectively 8 and 6 rebounds. Rytis Biliartas chipped in with 16 points, while Thomas Ray Davis and Alexander Klyuev had 10 points each.

BBL Weekly Review: Volume 4


Week four of the Baltic Basketball League (BBL) has passed, so let’s take some time to look back at all the spectacular performances and results we witnessed this week with the fourth volume of BBL Weekly Review.

16 THREES. Apparently, Rinalds Sirsnins has his coach’s full confidence, as he continues to put up three after three. The guard attempted 16 long-range shots in the game against TTU alone, making six. He has already attempted 46 (11.5 per game) 3-point and only eight 2-point shots in four games.

RUNS. An 18-0 run that started at the end of the third quarter was the deciding factor in the derby between TTU and Valga Maks ja Moorits. Not only did it erase the deficit for the Tallinn side, but they also got ahead by a comfortable margin.

TURNAROUND. Lietkabelis were the first ones to endure a coaching change this season, after Mindaugas Budzinauskas stepped down from the coaching position. Gintaras Kadziulis, who took over as the wheelman, debuted with a 96-85 victory against previously unbeaten Valmiera.

UNBEATEN. After four weeks of play, only three teams can boast not having lost a single match, as Kalev/Cramo, Pieno zvaigzdes and Juventus combine for a 10-0 record.

OFFENSE. Pasvalys has demonstrated some high-power offense to start the season, as they average 92.3 points per game. Nevezis, on the other hand, have the lowest scoring in the league with a an average of 66.3 points.

Thomas Droney of TLU Kalev secured the pole position with a brilliant display of basketball. The 23 year old guard tallied 18 points, gobbled up 15 rebounds and dished out 6 assists, combining for 31 ranking points, while TLU celebrated a big victory over TTU.

Devin Taylor finished the week in the second position of the top five, as he nearly mounted a double-double of 18 points and 9 rebounds. The Jekabpils’ forward amassed 29 ranking points.

Third on the list is EJ Singler, who posted an impressive double-double in Kalev/Cramo’s victory against Pyrinto. The forward had 17 points and 12 rebounds – a total of 27 ranking points.

Dainius Salenga proved that he still has years of good basketball in him, as he torched up Valmiera with 24 points, including the 6-of-9 shooting from downtown.

Damon Williams posted his usual double-double for Pyrinto this week. However, even his 12 points, 14 rebounds and 4 assists were not enough to get past Kalev/Cramo.