TARTU - No doubt that the biggest bomb of the night came from Tartu, where Tartu University snapped the seven game winning streak of Pieno zvaigzdes with an 80-74 home victory.
Tartu, perhaps slightly surprisingly, looked like the better side from the early stages of the game. While the score was close, they had the upper hand after the initial ten minutes, leading the way by four, 24-20.
The Estonians picked up a couple extra points to extend the lead early in the second period and slowly built on that. With a couple minutes to go in the first half, they managed to break away by double digits, but the margin was cut in half before the end of the quarter.
Pieno zvaigzdes trailed by five points to start the third quarter, but soon found themselves facing a double-digit margin again. The visitors caught up with their opponents in the final quarter and with two minutes to go, were down by just two points.
However, a number of costly mistakes and bad passes stopped them from completing the comeback and Tartu University cold-heartedly finished the game with successful free throw shots.
Janar Talts had an outstanding performance, as he put up 19 points, 10 rebounds and 4 steals, leading to a rating of 29 efficiency. Kristjan Kitsing added another 19 points to the tally, while Vytenis Cizauskas ended up with 14. Carl Engstrom had 10 points in his account.
For the losing side, there were just three players performing well, as Arturs Ausejs picked up 22 points, while Vyacheslav Bobrov eneded up with 18 points and 9 rebounds. Luis Shoshi ended up with 12 points and 8 rebounds.
PARNU - Betsafe/Liepaja continued to show abysmal form, as they were dismantled by Group A standings neighbors Port of Parnu, who took an easy 76-52 win for their third victory in seven games.
The start of the game said it all about what to expect from it, as the visitors were held scoreless for the opening half of the quarter, and Parnu built up a double-digit lead, 10-0. The margin had increased to an embarrassing 18 points before the first quarter even ended.
Liepaja managed to regain some composure in the second quarter, chipping away at the lead, managing to cut it to just seven, but a couple good possessions to end the half pushed the deficit back to 11.
Practically the same happened in the third quarter - Betsafe/Liepaja trimmed the deficit, but yet again couldn't close out the quarter and went back to trailing by double digits.
The home team put the game to bed with a 12-0 run to start the final period and increase the margin to 23 points. The Latvian side couldn't manage to recover and ended up falling by a big margin.
Parnu were led by Mikhel Kirves, who finished the game with a game-high 20 points and 13 rebounds. Saimon Sutt added 14 points and 8 boards to the tally, while Sten Saaremael chipped in with 11.
Mareks Jurevicus was the go-to guy for Liepaja, as dropped 14 points, while Toms Leimanis ended the game with 12.
TALLINN - In the second derby matchup between Tallinna Kalev/TLU and TTU, the visiting TLU managed to come out on top again, defeating their opponents 90-75 and winning the season series 2-0.
The first game, which was played in Kalev's home court, ended in an 80-72 win for the hosts, as they were powered by a big double-double from Bamba Fall. This time, even with a more modest performance from the Senegalese big man, TLU didn't have too much trouble dealing with their opponents.
The game started off close, with neither side losing any ground after ten minutes - the score was tied at 23. The gap widened in the later half of the second quarter, as the margin reached double-digits.
The margin hovered around a dozen points in the third period, but TTU gained some momentum with the start of the final period, as they went on an 11-3 run to cut the gap to just 3. However, TTU seemed to have run out of steam, and the visitors responded with a big run of their own, cementing the victory.
TLU were led by a 17-point performance from Reimo Tamm, while Dorde Dzeletovic added 16. Bambale Osby had a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Bamba Fall ended up with 13 points and 7 boards. Tom Kaldre finished up with a dozen points in his account.
Martin Giese was the leading scorer for TTU with 17 points of his own, while Sten Olmre and Sander Viilup chipped in with 15 and 14 points respectively. Matthias Tass finished with 11 points, while Oliver Metsalu added 10.
BC Vytautas rocked the basketball world last month with the signing Liangelo and Lamelo Ball, who were set to make their professional debuts on Tuesday against Tsmoki-Minsk. However Vytautas recently announced their decision to part ways with the BBL, choosing a series of BBB Challenge friendly games instead.
According to Article 11.3 of the BBL Regulations for the 2017-2018 season, Vytautas will be handed a fine of 5000 EUR for forfeiting a non-televised game.
This would make it Vytautas’ second forfeit of the season already and as FIBA Rules Article 20.2.3 states, if in a tournament the team forfeits for the second time, the team shall be disqualified from the tournament and the results of all games played by this team shall be nullified.
The first technical loss was handed to Vytautas in the end of October, when Head Coach Virginijus Seskus decided to withdraw his team to the locker room with him after having been awarded a second technical foul in the game against AVIS Utilitas Rapla.
Final sanctions for the club will be decided in the BBL board meeting.
More about the first technical loss: http://bbl.net/en/news/seskus-interrupts-match%2C-vytautas-handed-technical-loss/
The intermission of the year was full of excitement, shock and disappointment as well. We've wrapped up 2017 with December's edition of BBL Monthly Review.
MVP. Siauliai big man Laurynas Birutis finished the year on a high note, raking in December's Player of the Month award. The 20-year-old went on to average 16.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.0 blocks per game, as Siauliai put up a four game winning streak.
BALLING. About a month ago, Vytautas shocked the basketball world as they announced the signing of starlets Liangelo and Lamelo Ball. The two American teenagers were set to make their debut tomorrow against Tsmoki-Minsk, right up until the Lithuanian club made headlines again.
PARTING WAYS. With the arrival of the Ball brothers, Vytautas recently announced having elected to part ways with the BBL, choosing a series of Big Baller Brand Challenge friendly games instead. The club chose not to defend the champions' crown and forfeited their second game, leading to a disqualification.
TRIPLE DIGITS. Pieno zvaigzdes had an impressive month of December, breaking record after record. With Gediminas Petrauskas taking the reigns, the already high-paced offense turned into a wrecking crew, as they broke season scoring records three times.
Pieno zvaigzdes secured a 114-54 win against Valmiera/ORDO to open the month, setting the biggest score difference of the season, followed by an astonishing 119-72 bashing of Tartu University, which was the highest scoring burst in the league in over a decade. The Lithuanians ended the month by breaking the season record they had set just weeks ago, as they destroyed Barsy 118-53 and pushed the biggest winning margin to 65.
LOSSLESS. The high-scoring Pieno zvaigzdes isn't the only club not to suffer a defeat so far. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the season is the Jurmala team, who have been excellent and have won all six of their games so far, including the annulled game against Vytautas.
SNAPPED. Betsafe Liepaja had a really tough start to their BBL campaign, losing their opening four games. However, their luck changed in the first part of December, as they got two wins in a row and now stand at a 2-4 record.
FAIR PLAY. In the last BBL game of 2017, Prienai took on Lithuanian rivals Siauliai, but had to face an 80-82 defeat. The clubs took part in the 'True basketball - real games' project, which aims to stop any foul play in sports and promote a fair play and honorable environment in the game of basketball.
FATHER'S DAY GIFTS. Rapla started off December on a very welcoming note and greeted visiting Siauliai with a lot of youthful joy, as the Sadolin Sports Hall packed 700 spectators. The hosts had handed out free tickets to first to third grade students, so they could surprise their parents for Father's day. An act of kindness that is sure to win over some young hearts of basketball fans and motivate the players all at once.
PRIENAI - In the last BBL game of 2017, Prienai took on Lithuanian rivals Siauliai, but had to face an 80-82 defeat. The game also marked the second year of the 'True basketball - Real games' project.
Prienai-Birstonas Vytautas continued their efforts for honorable and fair play on the basketball courts, as they took part in the 'True basketball - real games project for the second year in a row, which aims to stop any foul play in sports.
'We're happy that we're not only educating the society, but we're also bringing attention to the problem and how it affects sports' - noted the coordinator of the project Karolis Stribys. 'The project showed that foul play in sports is not a deep wound in Lithuanian basketball, but it is vital to take action in preventing it, as buying and selling games is becoming a greater problem globally. We're hoping this projects draws more attention to this subject.'
Besides the matchup between the two clubs, the project was also introduced in several schools, the Lithuanian Sports University and the Sports Management Conference.
BBL was proud to join in on the project that was organized by the Association 'Aktyvistai' and rallied Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Sweden, alongside the organizations of Vytautas and Siauliai in battling bribery in sports.
The project was financed with the help of the EU Erasmus+ Sports program and over 300 games were checked in all five participating countries. Six of them were deemed suspicious, but after further inspection, it was decided that everything went according to the rules.
TALLINN - The final shot of the game meant a victory for TTU, as they clinched an 82-80 nail-biter against home side Valmiera/ORDO, marking their third win in seven contests.
Tallinna Kalev pushed ahead in the first quarter, striking up a 6-point advantage after ten minutes. They managed to push the margin to double-digits in the second quarter with a nice 9-0 run.
However, the tables turned in the second half, as the visitors mounted a comeback, mostly due to their 10-0 stretch in the midst of the third period.
The teams went neck to neck in the final fourth and in the final minute Kristjan Kitsing and Martin Jurtom exchanged three-pointers that had the teams at level terms with just 30 seconds remaining.
The game was decided with Kristo Saage's final attempt, as he buried the two-pointer, as the siren sounded for the end of the game.
Reimo Tamm ended the game with a team-high 19 points, while Saage added 17 points to the tally. Dorde Dzeletovic ended up with a double-double of 12 points and 14 rebounds, while Bamba Fall contributed another 10 points.
Janar Talts had a great game for Tartu University, as he dropped 25 points and added 8 rebounds. Kristjan Kitsing ended up with 17, while Vytenis Cizauskas ended up with 13 points, and 5 rebounds and assists each. Carl Engstrom finished up with 10 points and 14 boards.
A terrific month both individually and team-wise has earned Siauliai big man Laurynas Birutis the Player of the Month honors for December.
After a wobbly start to the season, the 20-year old Lithuanian has picked the pace up and finished the year with some MVP-worthy performances and four-of-four wins for his club.
Birutis averaged 16.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.0 blocks per game, as Siauliai put up a four game winning streak.
He started the month with a 22-point, 9-rebound, 3-block performance against Rapla, as his team went on to break the two-game losing slump. Birutis followed that up with another great performance the very next day, tallying 15 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 assists.
The young man had a quieter performance against Liepaja, but showed up when it mattered most, putting up 21 points and 6 rebounds against Lithuanian rivals and defending BBL Champions Vytautas.
The award will be handed out during Siauliai's next home game on the 11th of January, when the Lithuanians face Tsmoki-Minsk.
VALMIERA - A great second half allowed visiting TTU to enjoy an 86-73 win against Valmiera/ORDO in the first matchup of Wednesday night.
It was a close affair in the first half, as neither side managed to gain any momentum. However, TTU picked up the pace after the break, and an 8-0 run allowed them to set some space aside.
For TTU, Sten Olmre was the leading scorer, as he tallied 22 points, 6 steals and 5 assists. Toomas Raadik added 19 points to the tally, while Norman Kabin had a great game too, as he picked up 13 points, 11 rebounds and 4 steals. Martin Giese ended up with 11.
Eduards Hazners dropped 20 for the Latvians, while Janis Kaufmanis chipped in with an all-around performance of 18 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Niks Jansons ended up with 13 points.
PASVALYS - Pieno Zvaigzdes scored in triple digits for the fourth time in the last five games, as they demolished Barsy 118-53, setting the biggest winning margin to 65.
The guest only managed to keep up with their opponents for the first two minutes, but the Lithuanians got things going and went on an impressive run, allowing them to finish the quarter up by 19 points.
The fun didn't end there for Pieno zvaigzdes, as the second quarter was just as impressive, as the margin grew to 37 points.
A 24-0 run during the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter put the margin into the ridiculous category, as the Lithuanians went on to win by a record-breaking 65 points.
Ryan Anderson's debut was very impressive, as he led his team in scoring with 23 points. He was also a pest on defense, as he racked up 6 steals. Ignas Fiodorovas added 22 points to the tally, while Martynas Varnas finished up with 20 in his account. Julius Kazakauskas added 17 points on perfect shooting, 9 rebounds and 5 assists for a total of 33 ranking points.
DaQuan Cook had 10 points for Barsy, as Vladimir Ivanov chipped in with 9.