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.

Zeidaks: "I have never seen a better home crowd"


Kristers Zeidaks took no time to pick up his first individual award of the season, as the Tyco Rapla forward was named the Most Valuable Player for the month of October.

The 24-year-old Latvian was mostly responsible for his team’s wondrous start of the season, as Rapla managed to hit it off with a 3-1 start during the initial month, while he achieved three double-doubles and averaged 18 points and 10.8 rebounds. Zeidaks summed to an average of 26.3 ranking points per game, all while shooting an outrageous 71.4% from two-point range. spoke to Kristars about what this award means to him, his journeyman career, where he envisions himself in the future and the amazing support of Rapla fans.

First of all, congratulations on the October MVP honors! Do these kind of awards have any special meaning to you?

Thank you very much! You know, these kind of awards just show you that you are on the right path and that you are doing something right. These are basically like little awards for hard work. And at the same time they give you motivation to fight even harder and accomplish even more.

You showed stellar individual numbers, won the MVP award, while Tyco Rapla showcased some solid basketball, taking three victories and losing just once. Apparently, your team has performed much better this season compared to last year when Rapla had same three victories throughout the whole year and missed the playoffs. Has the management or the coaching staff set any specific goals this season? How far do you think this team can go yourself?

Well, we have a great coach and a team full of fighters that will always put the team’s interests before their own, a group of very unselfish and friendly players that will go out and fight as hard as they can. These kind of teams are always very dangerous for any opponent. However, I don’t want to project anything, but one thing is certain – we will give it our all this season.

After three great wins, Rapla suffered a blow-out against Juventus, followed by nail-biting loss against Liepaja/Triobet. Which of these losses hurt more – the one by a big margin or the one that went down to the wire? What can the team make of either of these games and where is the biggest need of improvements.

For me personally the loss against Liepaja hurt more, mostly because they are from my home country Latvia and it’s always a bit personal. In both of these games we had some injury issues but we showed that despite that, we can fight for a victory against any team in the BBL this year.

Let’s talk a bit more about you. During your young career you’ve played in a lot of different countries, ranging from Italy, Spain to the United States and back here in the Baltics. Which part of your career have you enjoyed most?

The hardest year in my life was in Spain, but I am absolutely thankful for that experience. The most exciting year was in America where I had the chance to practice together with 4 top-class players who went on to the NBA a year later. We had an awesome coaching staff and a strength coach who definitely taught me a lot.

You’re amongst the five best rebounders in the league and you’re not too far away from the top in scoring. What do you consider to be the strongest part of your game? Is there any specific element you know you need to improve and what do you focus on during practices?

I think that my strongest side is my aggressiveness on both ends of the court, but due to injuries I have lost some technique and confidence which is coming back gradually and slowly. I focus on everything – there are just so many things in basketball you need to improve and you can never grow tired of it. That is one of the reasons why I love this game.

Where do you see, or at least hope to see, yourself and your career in five years?

I don’t want to be too loud, so I will keep my dreams to myself, but I definitely envision myself playing basketball and having a great career. Hopefully, I’ll have a family of my own in five years.

And last but not least, would you like to pass on anything to the Rapla fans?

So far in my basketball career I have never seen a better home crowd than the one we have here in Rapla, it is awesome to play here and the fans give you so much extra energy! You can tell and feel that they are really enjoying it and rooting for you, it gives you that boost at the end – you don’t want to let them down and it makes you want to win every game even more.

TTU win Estonian derby against Valga


TALLINN – The Estonian derby between TTU and Valga Maks ja Moorits was decided only in the final quarter, as TTU celebrated a 80-67 (20-15; 15-24; 22-17; 23-11) home victory on Friday evening.

The game kicked off slowly, as both teams struggled to find a basket – nearly halfway through the quarter the score was tied at six. A 7-0 run at the end pushed TTU ahead and allowed the home side to finish the quarter in front by five.

The visitors came fighting back in the second quarter and after a 12-2 run, were already ahead. Maks ja Moorits stayed ahead for the rest of the quarter and entered halftime with a 39-35 advantage.

The two sides went back and forth in the third quarter but Joonas Jarvelainen’s juicy dunk put TTU back ahead in the final minute.

TTU took care of business early on in the fourth quarter, as they opened up the last quarter with a 14-0 run. The game was all settled, as Valga Maks ja Moorits’ runs were all rebuffed and the home side celebrated an 80-67 victory.

For the winning side, Kiur Akenparg was the leading scorer, as he tallied 23 points. Joonas Jarvelainen chipped in with 22 points and 7 rebounds, while Andrew Arnold and Kristjan Makke ended the game with respectively 11 and 10 points.

Jurijs Aleksejevs scored 26 points and collected 8 rebounds for Valga. Viljar Veski was the only other player in double digits with 11 points.

Kalev/Cramo top Pyrinto, improve to 4-0


TAMPERE – Kalev/Cramo left Finland unscathed, as they pulled out a tough 87-81 (24-18; 22-17; 14-27; 27-19) victory after a tiring duel against Pyrinto on Thursday evening.

The Estonian club now sits atop of Group A with four victories and no losses. Pyrinto, on the other hand, have a split record of two wins and losses each.

Early on, it was Kalev/Cramo in front, as they used an 8-0 run to pull ahead. The visitors kept hold of a lead of some sort for the rest of the quarter. With 10 minutes played, Kalev/Cramo led the way by six.

The margin kept growing and had already reached 15 points midway through the second quarter.

The Finns came out focused after the break and proved they can put up a real fight. They erased the double-digit lead in half of a quarter and were once again level. A last-second tap-in by Damon Williams allowed Pyrinto to gain a two-point lead before the final ten minutes.

The duo of Williams and Will Harris pushed Pyrinto’s advantage to five and they seemed in a good position to fight for victory. However, an 8-1 run helped Kalev/Cramo reestablished their lead. For the next five minutes, the teams went neck to neck, but the Tallinn side was just too clutch.

They knocked down two consecutive three-pointers in the final minute, which pushed them to the leading role and gave a 4 point lead with 11 seconds to go. Pyrinto could not answer with a bucket of their own and fouls were the only chance of staying alive.

Rolands Freimanis and EJ Singler led the way for Kalev/Cramo with 15 points apiece, while the latter also devoured 12 rebounds. Reinar Hallik chipped in with 15, while Scott Machado and Mindaugas Kupsas were responsible for respectively 13 and 11 points.

Will Harris topped the game in scoring with 20 points to his name, while Antero Lehto added 19 to the tally. Alex Vaenerberg ended the game with 13, while Damon Williams was his usual self with 12 points and 14 rebounds.