It was perhaps the most entertaining piece of basketball we witnessed in the Quarterfinals, as Latvian powerhouse Ventspils barely held on to victory against Pyrinto. The game was neck-to-neck for the lion’s share of the game, but the home side managed to get away with the 70-64 (20-19; 20-11; 10-21; 20-13) victory.
It was a nip-and-tuck battle in the first ten minutes and while Pyrinto did have a small advantage, halfway through the quarter, Ventspils responded with an 8-0 stretch to pull ahead by five. Nevertheless, by the time the period was over, the teams were separated by just a single point.
The home side managed to pull ahead in the second quarter, when they reached their first double-digit advantage. A 10-point wall was between them and the Finns and clearly, both coaches had something to talk about at halftime.
Right out of the gates, it seemed that Pyrinto was a completely different team, as they started operating extremely efficiently on both sides of the court. They managed to set up a 17-3 run and going into the final quarter, were already ahead by one.
Ventspils retook the lead just seconds inside the final frame. The margin had reached six, and then slid back down to just one. It seemed Pyrinto weren’t about to risk it all and were playing for the score instead of the win in the final minute, but Nikolaos Gkikas pushed the margin back to six with a dagger from downtown right in the defenders face.
Kristaps Janicenoks was the clear leader for the Latvians with 21 points in his account. Martins Meiers and Nikolaos Gkikas added 10 points and 4 rebounds each, while the Greek also dished out 7 assists.
Bryan Hopkins led Pyrinto with 14 points and 7 rebounds, while Tyrone Kent added 11 points. Damon Williams scored 10 points, secured 5 rebounds and recorded 4 dimes before fouling out. David Jackson ended the game with 9 points.
Although the opening game of the Quarterfinals was very high-paced, we saw some very different basketball in Tartu. TU/Rock managed to slip past Liepaja/Triobet in a very low-scoring game, taking a 59-49 lead in the series.
It was a neck-to-neck affair for the most part of the opening frame, yet with two minutes on the clock, the home side managed to set themselves up with a 7-0 run that just raised the noise in the arena.
It was a pretty calm second quarter as well, as neither side managed to tear the game wide open. Nevertheless, a cold-hearted three-pointer by Valmo Kriisa pushed the gap to 8 before halftime.
Liepaja/Triobet came firing back in the third quarter and a 7-0 run cut the gap to just one. But that’s when TU/Rock started knocking down the long-ball. They got 3 shots from downtown to fall and pushed the margin back to double-digits.
Liepaja didn’t manage to give the Estonians a run for their money in the final minutes and will be going back home with a 10-point deficit.
Janar Talts was the only figure in double-digit scoring for TU/Rock, as he tallied 12 points and 6 rebounds. Valmo Kriisa added 9 points, while Augustas Peciukevicius, Karolis Petrukonis and Joosep Toome ended the game with 7 apiece.
Lauris Blaus scored 15 points and tore down 8 rebounds for the Latvians, while Andrius Mazutis joined him with 10 points and 6 rebounds. Edgaras Zelionis finished the game with 7 points in his account.
TÜ/Rock head coach Gert Kullamäe:
„It was a classic playoff game – close, low score and emphasis on defense. We played well in defense and managed to keep their key players from scoring too much. But we also made many easy mistakes and missed too many easy shots. That in mind we have to be satisfied with the ten-point lead. But to advance to the next round we have to shoot better and reduce turnovers.”
Liepaja Triobet head coach Uvis Helmanis:
“As games go, it was ugly basketball. For us to have a chance in Liepaja we have to shoot much better. Today some our main scorers ended up in single digits. I’m glad it was only the first half and we are certainly going to play better at home.”
SIAULIAI – The first Quarterfinals matchup was as exciting as it gets for two quarter, as two Lithuanian foes faced in the first leg of the series. Siauliai, however, managed to come out on top after a dominant second half, topping Lietkabelis 103-81 (29-22; 16-24; 31-19; 25-13).
The home side ran off very early with terrific play all-around. They already held a 15-point advantafe just five minutes inside the opening quarter, however Lietkabelis were not about to give up just yet. A series of efficient trips down the court helped the visitors cut the deficit in half and the scoreboard stated a 29-22 lead for Siauliai.
The high scoring didn't stop in the second frame. Led by Vytas Sulskis, Siauliai held on to the advantage for half a quarter, but Jurica Zuza started dominating in the post and managed to single-handedly bring the visitors within one point. Dainius Salenga's mid-range jump shot closed out the quarter and gave Lietkabelis their first lead of the game.
Lietkabelis had already emerged as the front-runner, when they jumped ahead by six. However, Rokas Giedraitis answered back with a three-pointer and the visitors were also 'awarded' an unsportsmanlike foul just half a minute later. Siauliai once again shot ahead after a 10-0 run. Rolandas Alijevas' season night carried the home side's offense throughout the third quarter, while Jeffery Allen swatted away shots left and right to control the defensive end. It was a 76-65 lead for Siauliai before the final quarter.
The home team was beyond perfect in the start of the fourth quarter, as they won the initial two and a half minutes 15-2 and reached a mid-thirties advantage. Nothing out of the ordinary happened during the final minutes and Siauliai celebrated a huge victory.
Rolandas Alijevas had a season night, as he reached new heights in both points and assists with respectively 23 and 10. Rokas Giedraitis and Vytas Sulskis added 17 apiece, while the latter also contributed 9 rebounds. Ryan Olander and Julius Jucikas ended the game with 13 each, while Gintaras Leonavicius finished off with 11.
For the losing side, it was Jurica Zuza leading the way, as he made his first 7 shots and ended the game with 17 points. Evaldas Zabas contributed 15, while Arnas Labuckas, Dainius Salenga and Jakov Vladovic all chipped in with 12 points each.
The first round of the Baltic Basketball League (BBL) Playoffs is already in the books and it was full of high-paced offense and a number of broken records. Let’s take a look at it all with the BBL Playoffs Review: Eighthfinals!
TITLE HOPES. After half of the BBL Playoff contestants were just eliminated, only eight clubs continue their path towards a championship. Four Lithuanian, two Latvian clubs and one participant each from Estonia and Finland still have their eyes on the prize.
MIRACLE COMEBACK. Juventus seemed to have landed in the worst position possible when Barons/LDz thrashed them by 24 points in the first leg of the series. However, not all was said and done on that evening in Riga, as the Lithuanians, motivated by their home fans, turned it all around and celebrated a 26-point victory in Utena – just barely enough to qualify for the Quarterfinals.
TRIPLE-DOUBLE. Damon Williams of Pyrinto became just the second player in the league to have achieved a triple-double. The 41-year-old big man continues to impress and this time recorded 11 points, 15 rebounds and 13 dimes. He also set a BBL record for most assists… for half an hour, before being overcome by Nikolaos Gkikas.
RECORD I. As we just mentioned, Nikolaos Gkikas set a new new record in the game against Tyco Rapla. The Greek dished out 14 assists in Ventspils’ first win of the BBL Playoffs. The guard also scored 10 points and tore down 6 rebounds.
RECORD II. Frank Elegar showed that he’s a beast among the boards in Kalev/Cramo’s first game of the playoffs, as he corralled season-best 20 rebounds in the Estonian side’s victory against Lietkabelis.
RECORD III. Rokas Giedraitis joins the record-setting trio with a great performance against Parnu, where the forward tied the season’s best result of 6 steals in Siauliai's victory.
Pieno zvaigzdes’ Evaldas Kairys was selected to be this week’s MVP after two outstanding games. The center averaged 18 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks in the series against Tarvas and was the driving force that helped will Pasvalys into the Quarterfinals.
Despite his team not making it to the next round, Frank Elegar deserves a mention as well. The big man returned to the court less than a month ago and proved to have tremendous impact in the series against Lietkabelis. The big man averaged 12.5 points, 16 rebounds and 3 blocks throughout the series.
Evaldas Zabas of Lietkabelis made it into the top five mostly because of his most recent game, when he helped Lietkabelis erase a 14-point first leg deficit. The Lithuanian averaged 19.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists against Kalev/Cramo.
22-year-old Rokas Giedraitis made his BBL season debut only this month and had a key role right from the start. The forward averaged 19 points, 3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.5 steals in Siauliai’s victories.
Closing out the list is Tyrone Kent of Pyrinto, was also a vital piece to his team’s success, as he averaged 15.5 points and 9 rebounds in the two games against Valmiera.
UTENA – What an end to the series in Utena! Juventus has managed to overcome a 24-point first leg deficit with a 84-58 (18-13; 23-9; 13-13; 30-23) victory against Barons/LDz on Thursday evening and just made it into the Quarterfinals.
The Lithuanian side was on the edge of a bottomless pit before the game, having lost the first duel 58-82, but proved that home grounds do mean a lot to them.
The Lithuanians started slowly and were behind 2-8 with four minutes played. However, then they used a 16-4 run to swing the things to their direction.
Juventus didn’t stop there – they set up another run, 18-3 and amassed a 20-point advantage before halftime. The two sides went back and forth in the third quarter, but neither of the teams made any steps towards victory.
Twenty two points separated the two sides with a minute on the clock and Barons still held onto a 2-point combined lead. However, Arvydas Siksnius and Simas Buterlevicius made sure that changed. They scored 7 points in less than a minute and pushed the Lithuanian side up by 27.
Barons/LDz didn’t manage to get a shot off before Juventus fouled them and missed one free-throw to make the situation even worse. The two sides exchanged missed free-throws and the Latvians just ran out of time.
Arvydas Siksnius led the squad with 18 points, while Simas Buterlevicius was just as good with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Rashaun Broadus, Valdas Dabkus and Nikita Barinov scored 11 points each, as the latter two also added 6 rebounds apiece.
Only five players managed to get on the scoring sheet for Barons/LDz, as Pavlo Vurenko led the way with 18. Kaspars Kambala and Dmitro Gliebov added 12, while Matiss Rudmiezis finished the game with 10 points and 6 rebounds.
TU/Rock did what they were supposed to do – hold their own on the road and advance to the Quarterfinals. The Estonians were already in a great position to succeed, but the 73-67 (13-20; 27-14; 12-20; 21-13) victory against Prienai set everything to its places.
Tartu had won the first leg of the series by 32 points, so winning wasn’t a do-or-die goal for them.
This was truly a game of runs, as the margin totals kept swinging up and down. Prienai jumped on the right track right at tipoff with a 15-0 start to the game. Finally awakened by the cold shower, TU/Rock trimmed the lead down to 7 before the quarter ended.
Although the good first period might have ignited a spark of hope for the Lithuanians, all the positivity was wiped out with Rock’s dominant second quarter. The Estonians not only erased their deficit, but finally managed to build a slight lead of their own.
The third quarter belonged to the home side though and they were back on the run for the lead. The Lithuanians managed to get some stops and jumped in front by two points before the final frame.
Prienai weren’t able to hold their own during clutch time and TU/Rock celebrated another victory.
Arnas Labuckas had a nice game for Prienai, as he tallied 22 points. Martynas Linkevicius joined him in the double-digit range with 17 points. Paulius Ivanauskas was the only other player to stand out, as he contributed 9 assists and 4 points.
TU/Rock’s scoring was very wide-spread, as Augustas Peciukevicius led the team in scoring with just 13 points. He also added 7 rebounds and 4 assists to the total. Joosep Toome chipped in with 11 points, while Gert Dorbek added 9. Three more players had 7 points in their accounts.
LIEPAJA – Liepaja/Triobet built on their first leg lead and entered the Quarterfinals with a bang after taking down Jekabpils 105-83 (33-21; 24-23; 25-20; 23-19) on Wednesday evening.
Janis Antrops was the leading scorer with 19 points for the victors, while Gins Antrops had 17. Mareks Jurevicus added 16 and 8 assists, while Edgaras Zelionis ended the game with 14. Andrius Mazutis ended the game with 12 points and 7 assists in his account.
The home team was the first one to jump ahead with a 14-6 run to start the game. Liepaja didn’t turn down the tempo and with the first ten minutes down, they had a 12 point lead.
The margin didn’t shrink in the second period and just grew after the half, so Jekabpils found themselves in a desperate situation, having lost the first game by five. They were down by a combined result of 23 points going into the final quarter and the final spread was even larger.
Dovydas Redikas led Jekabpils in scoring with 19, while Andrejs Selakovs accompanied him with 14 points and 9 rebounds. Edgars Stelmahers scored 11 points in his season closer.
Despite a blowout loss in the first leg, Valmiera showed that they’re a team to be respected at home, as they beat Pyrinto 84-78 (17-23; 30-19; 24-17; 13-19) but still ended up on the losing end of the series.
Pyrinto had blown their way past the Latvians in the first duel, taking the 34-point victory, so it wasn’t a do-or-die situation for them.
Pyrinto were the first ones to obtain a tangible lead, as the jumped ahead 19-10 in the first quarter. However, it all turned around in the second frame, where Valmiera dominated throughout the ten minutes. The Latvians won the quarter by 11 and turned a 6 point deficit into a 5 point lead.
They managed to pull ahead even further after the break, as the margin reached double-digits. Pyrinto came close to tying the game up later on, but Valmiera just showed too much will to win this one. Final score – 84-78.
Justin Hurt was the top scorer for Valmiera with 18 points. Davis Rozitis added 13 points and 10 rebounds. Sam Dower Jr. scored 12 points, while Vytenis Cizauskas ended the game with 11 points and 8 assists.
Tyrone Kent was the leading scorer for Pyrinto with 19 points and 7 rebounds. Antero Lehto added 17, while a couple of other guys finished the night with 9 points.
PASVALYS – After a tough game in the first leg, Pasvalys took care of Tarvas with ease in the second, taking the 89-68 (29-17; 19-13; 22-21; 19-17) victory and cutting the Estonian side‘s season short.
Pieno zvaigzdes held a slim 7-point advantage after the first game, but ultimately rose victorious for a combined score of 183-155.
Pasvalys were on the run right from the start, as a 11-0 run midway through the first quarter pushed their lead to 14. The Lithuanians kept control of the double-digit lead and built on it in the second period.
The margin soon reached 20 points and it seemed all was said and done. However, an 8-0 run ignited a spark of hope for Tarvas.
Nevertheless, the spark was soon put out with a dominant third quarter start for the Lithuanians. Pasvalys got off to a 14-2 run and the gap skyrocketed to 30 points.
The fourth quarter was merely a formality and Pieno zvaigzdes easily cruised to victory.
Evaldas Kairys had a season-high 21 points this evening and also contributed 10 rebounds. Gytis Sirutavicius was a great sidekick with 13 points, while Michael Dixon Jr. added 10 to the totals.
Brandis Raley-Ross concluded what has been an amazing BBL season with another outstanding performance. The guard scored 28 points and dished out 4 assists, thus leading his team in both categories. Juris Umbrasko added 15 points, while Reinar Hallik chipped in with 10.
PARNU - Siauliai put themselves in the best position possible after the home game with a 37-point blowout and finished their work in Parnu, as they defeated the Estonians 82-70 (23-14; 22-27; 26-15; 11-14) on Tuesday evening.
The game was a bit of a roller-coaster ride, as the score kept swinging up and down. Siauliai were the team to jump ahead firstly, as they piled up a double-digit margin just halfway through the initial frame.
By the time the second quarter got to full speed though, it was already Parnu running away with the lead. However, their good run was short-lived and Siauliai came back firing in the second half.
The Lithuanians used an 11-0 run and put the game away for good. The margin kept increasing and Parnu were unable to even cut the disadvantage to single-digits.
Siauliai celebrated a combined 190-141 Eighth-finals victory.
Rokas Giedraitis was impressive for the victorious side, as he banged down 6 three-pointers in his 18-point effort. Gintaras Leonavicius added 15 points and 6 rebounds, while Vytautas Sulskis ended the game with 13 points and 6 boards.
Janis Vahter scored 20 for Parnu, while Renato Lindmets ended the game with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Rannar Raap chipped in with 13 points and 6 rebounds.