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.

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!

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.

Reinforced Valmiera blows past Prienai


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 crumble late, lose to Jekabpils


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.

Kalev/Cramo shocked by Parnu


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.

Late surge wills Barons/LDz past Jurmala


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.

Juventus win back-to-back in Estonia


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.