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.
BBL.net 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!
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.
VALMIERA – With some recent reinforcements, Valmiera continue to succeed in the BBL, as they cruised past Prienai with a solid 88-71 (21-17; 22-19; 23-18; 22-17) victory.
Valmiera are amongst the leaders in Group B with six out of eight wins, while Prienai finally dropped a game after a 3-game winning streak. They now hold a 3-4 record.
Valmiera tipped off the quarter strong and in no time were ahead by eleven points. However, the visitors managed to close in by the end of the quarter and finished the quarter down by four.
The hosts didn’t wait up and were soon back ahead by a solid margin. Yet, once again, Prienai managed to creep up right before the end of the period.
The Lithuanians came as close as three points to their opponents in the midst of the quarter, but before the final quarter started, the Latvians were already up by 12.
Valmiera’s lead reached a game-high 19 points in the final quarter and it was clear who would turn out victorious.
Vytenis Cizauskas, who just recently transferred from Lietkabelis, made his Valmiera debut today, as he scored 7 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and dished out 5 assists.
Justin Hurt was very effective today, as he scored 26 points, tore down 6 rebounds and made 4 assists. Martins Vinauds was also in double-digits with 14 points, while Davis Rozitis, who had 15 rebounds, and Sam Dower Jr. ended the game with respectively 11 and 10 points.
Ovidijus Varanauskas was impressive for the losing side, as he tallied 20 points and 5 rebounds. Giedrius Staniulis added 17 points and 6 rebounds, while both Paulius Ivanauskas and Dominykas Milka ended the game with 8 points apiece. Ivanauskas also added 8 rebounds to the boxscore.
VALGA – Jekabpils were dominant in the fourth quarter and that just proved sufficient to nab a 76-63 victory against Maks ja Moorits on Wednesday evening.
Jekabpils are now among the three teams tied for first place with 6-2 records, while Valga stand fourth with four victories in nine games.
Throughout the game, the lead changed hands 13 times and it was absolutely clear that the two sides would give it their all already in the first quarter, as only two points separated the rivals.
The second quarter started off with a big drought, as neither team could score for nearly four minutes. At the end of the first half Maks ja Moorits stood just barely ahead.
Things did not loosen up in the third quarter, as it was a neck-to-neck duel, but all was finally settled in the final quarter. Jekabpils kept on building up their lead until it reached the game-high 13 points.
The visiting side was led by Povilas Cukinas’ 15 points. Mikus Sokolovs added 13 points and 7 rebounds, while Rinalds Sirsnins and Devin Taylor scored 11 apiece. The latter also had 11 rebounds – all in just 18 minutes of game-time.
Maris Laksa was the leading scorer for Maks ja Moorits with 17 points to his name. Reinis Strupovics added 16, while Jurijs Aleksejevs chipped in with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists.
TALLINN – Parnu delivered perhaps the biggest shock of the season, as they took care of previously unbeaten Kalev/Cramo in hostile territory. In the game with 11 lead changes, the visitors ultimately rose victorious 83-73 (15-15; 22-18; 21-19; 25-21).
This was the first loss in seven games for Kalev/Cramo, while Parnu secured their second victory to go with five losses.
The game went head to head for the whole first half and neither team could jump ahead by more than five points. Surprisingly, it was the underdogs Parnu with the lead at halftime.
The two sides kept exchanging leads for most of the third quarter too, but starting from the 28th minute, it was Parnu with the advantage until the very end of the game.
Parnu extended their lead to 12 in the final period and safely coasted to the victory.
Sandis Silavs was the leading scorer for Parnu with 23 points and 5 assists. Ronaldas Rutkauskas added 18 points and 9 rebounds, while Silver Leppik finished the game with 17. Taavi Hamarsalu ended the game with 9 points to his name.
Rolands Freimanis, who was finally presented the November MVP award, led Kalev/Cramo in scoring with 16 points. He also added 12 rebounds to the tally. EJ Singler chipped in with 14 points, while Erik Keedus was responsible for 11 more.
RIGA – Barons/LDz used an outstanding second half to wrap things up in their duel against fellow Latvians Jurmala/Fenikss and take the 90-75 (13-17; 27-27; 24-17; 26-14) home victory.
Barons/LDz are in the middle of the pack in Group A with 4 victories in 7 games. Jurmala, on the other hand are at the very bottom of the group with just a single victory in seven attempts.
Surprisingly, Jurmala/Fenikss were the first ones to jump ahead in the game, as they gathered a 12-4 lead. However, the tables quickly turned and soon it was Barons/LDz with a slight advantage.
The two sides stayed close together for three quarters, but then a 13-0 run decided the fate of the game, as the home side amassed a solid lead.
Jekabs Rozitis was an unstoppable force today, as he recorded 22 points and 13 rebounds. Lauris Mizis was also impressive with 19 points and 5 rebounds, while Ernests Kalve finished the game with 18 points and 8 rebounds. Arturs Bricis scored 9 and tallied 6 assists.
Ervins Jonats had a terrific game as well, as he also scored 22 points and tore down 13 rebounds. Kristaps Mediss ended the game with 19 points, while both Martins Laksa and Roberts Mednis ended the game with 9 to their name.
RAPLA – Despite a tough duel against Tarvas yesterday, Juventus found the strength to make it two victories in a row, as they dismantled Tyco Rapla 79-63 (18-12; 20-20; 22-18; 19-13) in the Group C match-up.
Juventus now hold a 6-1 record and have already played all five road game in the group stage. Rapla, on the other hand, continue to struggle, as they faced their fifth consecutive loss after starting the season with three victories.
Juventus went on the run late in the first period, as they secured a 6 point lead, which grew to double-digits soon in the second quarter.
However, Rapla raced back and with just a few minutes burned in the second half, were all-tied up. Despite that, the Lithuanians were quick to regain the double-digit lead and cruised to a solid victory.
Juventus had some balanced scoring tonight, as 7 players scored eight or more points. Arvydas Siksnius was the leading scorer with 13 points alongside his 6 rebounds. Saulius Kulvietis and Simas Buterlevicius, who also tallied 7 rebounds, both had 12 points, while Vaidas Cepukaitis finished the game with 10 points and 6 boards.
For the losing side, it was the starting unit doing the heavy lifting. Rait Keerles and Janar Soo scored 15 points apiece and added respectively 6 and 7 rebounds, while Andre Parn chipped in with 12 points. Rait-Riivo Laane ended the game with 9 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists.
RAKVERE – After slipping up in Liepaja last week, Juventus returned to winning ways against Tarvas, as they fought out a tough 88-82 (23-19; 19-14; 22-29; 24-20) victory over the Estonians in Tuesday’s only match-up.
Juventus climbed right back on top of Group C with this victory, as they are now accompanied by a 5-1 record. Tarvas dropped to a 5-3 record.
Juventus were on the outside looking for the most of the first quarter, as the hosts quickly mounted a two-possession lead. However, an 8-0 run turned it all around and the Lithuanian side ended up ahead 23-13 after the initial ten minutes.
The visitors finally reached their first double-digit lead of the game couple of minutes inside the second period and held on to the solid advantage for the rest of the quarter.
However, Tarvas were back in the race soon after halftime, as the lead dwindled down to just one midway through the third quarter. The margin then rose to seven but before the final ten minutes, only two points separated the opponents.
Another 8-0 run by the Utena side to start off the quarter was the key to victory, as Tarvas could not get back into the game.
Rashaun Broadus led the team in scoring with 19 points to his name. Arvydas Siksnius and Edgaras Stanionis scored respectively 18 and 17 points, as they also grabbed 6 rebounds apiece. Valdas Dabkus had the game’s only double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Vaidas Cepukaitis ended the game with 10 points and 7 rebounds.
Brandis Raley Ross was incredible for Tarvas, but apparently even his 28 points and 5 rebounds and 3 steals couldn’t do the trick. David Haughton added 17 points and 7 rebounds, while Juris Umbrasko chipped in with 13 points and 6 rebounds.
The winter has brought us a handful of outrageous performances and a couple new records to go alongside. Let’s round it all out with the eighth volume of the BBL Weekly Review!
MVP. Rolands Freimanis was chosen the MVP for the month of November after he averaged 19 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game in two Kalev/Cramo victories.
RECORD. Lietkabelis set records in scoring in nearly all possible categories against TTU. The Lithuanians had the highest scoring in a single quarter (36), a half (66) and in a game as a whole (116). They also had the highest number of ranking points with 157.
RECORD II. To make that even more impressive, Lietkabelis were rock-solid on defense, as they allowed their opponents to score only 54 points, which helped them achieve a victory by 62 points – the best result in the league.
ATTENDENCE. Although it is said that Lithuania is the land of basketball, only one of the top five teams in attendance is Lithuanian. Atop the charts stand Valmiera, Kalev/Cramo and Juventus, representing all three Baltic states. All these three teams attract over a thousand fans every game, while the two bottom clubs TLU Kalev and Prienai barely get 70 fans a game.
RUNS. It’s safe to say that Lietkabelis was the most dominant side this week and it’s no surprise they hold the biggest run this week. An 18-0 stretch in the first frame of their game helped the Lithuanians amass a 22-point lead early on en route to their record-breaking victory.
NO DEFENSE. Once again TTU steals the spotlights, as their defense proved worthless. The Estonian club suffered two losses this week by an average margin of 53.5 points, as their opponents averaged 114.5 points per game.
Brandis Raley Ross showcased tremendous skills in his game against Dynamo Moscow and becomes the weekly MVP. The Tarvas guard scored 35 points, tore down 5 rebounds and dished out 5 assists to amass 32 ranking points.
Evaldas Zabas was not far behind him with his efficient 20-point, 6-rebounds and 7-assist performance against TTU, when he racked up 31 ranking points.
Domantas Seskus makes his Top 5 debut with a 28-ranking point performance. The Lithuanian scored 21 points, corralled 6 rebounds and distributed 4 assists in his team’s victory.
The Latvian basketball spotlight shone on Kaspars Kambala once again, as he delivered a terrific performance against Pasvalys. The big man scored season-high 29 points and added 6 rebounds to the 27 ranking point total.
Dominykas Milka, the third Prienai player on the list, closes out this week’s Top 5 performers with his 17 points and 8 rebounds against the aforementioned TTU.
PRIENAI – Prienai had no trouble defending home grounds against TTU, as they battered their opponents in the 113-68 (20-18; 31-20; 34-12; 28-18) blow-out in the only match-up of Thursday evening.
Prienai are making strides to move out from the bottom of Group B, winning their last three games to make it a 3-3 record. The Estonians have recently been having problems finding a route to victory, as they’ve dropped their four last outings and hold a 2-6 record.
Only the first quarter proved to be competitive, as the two sides went back and forth for the initial ten minutes.
However, it all changed in the second frame, as Prienai began their dominance by slowly building up a double-digit lead.
It just got worse after the break, when the Lithuanians just manhandled TTU, winning the third quarter by 22 points. As 35 points separated the two sides, the final ten minutes were merely a formality and Prienai advanced to their biggest victory this season.
Domantas Seskus had an outstanding game, as he scored 21 points and tore down 6 rebounds. Vidmantas Sragauskis added six three-pointers to reach 18 points, while Dominykas Milka finished the game with 17 points and 8 rebounds. Ovidijus Varanauskas scored 15 points and dished out 8 assists, Arnas Labuckas chipped in with 14 points, while Giedrius Staniulis had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Kristjan Makke and Joonas Jarvelainen scored 15 points each for TTU, while Kiur Akenparg and Mooses Kaja scored respectively 12 and 10 points, as the latter also recorded 9 rebounds.