TARTU ‒ Despite missing two key players in Laimonas Kisielius and Arvydas Siksnius, Tonybet snuck away with an 68-66 victory against TU/Rock in the first leg of the semi-final tie after Mindaugas Lukauskis scored a last-second lay-up.
In a close game, neither side managed to establish their superiority early on, but the Prienai team went on a 13-4 run in the beginning of the second quarter to gain a game-high eight-point lead at 31-23.
However, TU/Rock answered with seven points in a row and evened the game out, entering the second half only with a 41-38 deficit. Prienai led for the majority of third and fourth quarter, but it was never by more than a couple of baskets.
With 56 seconds remaining, Augustas Peciukevicius buried a three-pointer to tie things up at 66-all. Although the game seemed likely to end in a tie, Mindaugas Lukauskis had other ideas, giving Prienai a two-point lead just before the buzzer.
Lukauskis finished the game with a game-high 23 points and five assists, Arturas Valeika had a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Martynas Linkevicius chipped in with 12 points.
For TU/Rock, Vilmantas Dilys collected 12 points and eight rebounds, with Vincent Simpson and Augustas Peciukevicius finished the game with 10 points and five assists. each.
SIAULIAI ‒ Five players scored in double figures for Siauliai, as the Lithuanian side started the BBL Semi-Finals with an 82-81 victory against the visiting Pyrinto in the first leg of the tie on Monday evening.
The one-point advantage won’t give Siauliai much security ahead of the second meeting between the sides in two days time in Tampere, with the tie still very much a toss-up.
Both sides started red-hot from beyond the three-point arc, both making four of their first six attempts from long range, as Siauliai finished the opening period with a 29-25 lead.
The hosts increased the gap to 46-40 at the halftime break, with newcomer Bambale Osby performing well and providing the Lithuanian side a much-needed inside presence.
Siauliai led by as many as nine points in the second half, but Pyrinto’s go-to duo of Kelvin Lewis and Benjamin Raymond made sure to keep the Finns within reach of their opponents.
A pair of free-throws by Travis Leslie had increased the home side’s advantage to 82-78 with only a couple seconds to spare, but a three-pointer by Yannick Anzuluni just before the horn cut it to one point.
Arnas Labuckas paced the winners with 16 points, while Vytas Sulskis, Travis Leslie and Bambale Osby all finished with 13 points apiece.
For Pyrinto, Kelvin Lewis had a game-high 21 points, Antero Lehto scored 17, while Benjamin Raymond chipped in with 16 points and five rebounds.
Only a couple of weeks remain in the Baltic Basketball League’s (BBL) schedule, as we just stepped past the quarterfinals. The BBL rounds up the most impressive performances and most memorable events of the quarterfinals.
PASVALYS ‒ Pieno Zvaigzdes weren’t able to dig themselves out of the whole in the second Quarter-Final game against TU/Rock, with the Estonian side snatching the last spot in the Semi-Finals after a 52-50 victory.
The Tartu side, who will face Tonybet Prienai in the next round, had won the first leg of the tie by 13 points as well.
In a low-scoring first half, neither side managed to pull away with TU/Rock entering the halftime break with a small 27-24 advantage after leading most of the way.
However the small gap soon evaporated, as a jump shot by Egidijus Dimsa put the Pieno Zvaigzdes ahead 34-32 midway through the third quarter. Although the visitors had temporarily regained the lead, the Lithuanians began the final frame with a 41-40 edge.
With five minutes remaining, the hosts led 45-42 after Arturas Jomantas scored a bucket, but Augustas Peciukevicius answered with an and-one on the other end. Shortly after, a three-pointer by Peciukevicius gave TU/Rock the advantage.
Although Pieno Zvaigzdes had tied the score at 50-all, Janar Talts broke the deadlock to give Gert Kullamae’s team another win.
Vincent Simpson scored a game-high 15 points for TU/Rock, while Augustas Peciukevicius added 12 points and six rebounds, with no other player reaching double figures for the visitors.
Big man Egidijus Dimsa led the hosts in scoring, dropping 14 points on his former team, while Arturas Jomantas and Zygimantas Jonusas contributed with 11 and 8 points respectively.
VENTSPILS ‒ The defending BBL champions Ventspils will have to let go of their crown after being knocked out by Lithuanian side Siauliai in the Quarter-Final round, despite taking a 71-68 victory in the second leg of the tie at home in Ventspils on Saturday evening.
The Latvians could not overcome the six-point deficit they accumulated on the road, despite leading by as many as nine points in the second half. Siauliai will meet Pyrinto in the semi-final.
Ventspils entered the second half with a favorable 47-40 advantage and a one-point lead on aggregate and increased the gap to nine after Janis Timma threw down a dunk to start the third quarter.
However, spurred on by a couple of three-pointers from Rokas Giedraitis and Travis Leslie, Siauliai came back to cut the deficit to 56-55 before the final period.
With five minutes remaining in the game, Harvey Grant’s lay-up made it 68-62 for Ventspils, which would’ve been enough to force overtime, but a couple of timely baskets from Derek Needham saw Siauliai hold on to their first-leg lead.
Needham finished the game with a game-high 18 points, Travis Leslie scored 16 points and added six boards, while Vytas Sulskis had 11 points for Siauliai.
Meanwhile, Ronalds Zakis led the hosts with 14 points, Harvey Grant scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds, with Akselis Vairogs contributing with 10 points.
TAMPERE ‒ Pyrinto registered another victory Nevezis, defeating the Lithuanians 97-95 in the second leg of the Quarter-Final tie to progress to the Semi-Final round, where they will face the winner of the Siauliai and Ventspils pair.
The Finns had won the first game 91-61 and their 30-point advantage was never in doubt, although the Kedainiai team did put up a much better effort this time round.
Following a powerful 23-8 start, the hosts seemed to be en route to another crushing victory, but Nevezis battled back and even snuck ahead 36-32 at the start of the second period.
However, Pyrinto regained a double figure advantage by the halftime break at 53-42, outscoring Nevezis 17-6 in the last five minutes of the second quarter.
The home side maintained a safe gap throughout the second half and sailed to an easy win, with Antero Lehto pacing Pyrinto with 24 points and six assists. Damon Williams added 19 points, while Kelvin Lewis chipped in with 14.
For Nevezis, Gintaras Leonavicius was the top scorer once again, finishing with 29 points in his account. Valdas Dabkus had 18 points, while Tauras Jogela added a double-double of 13 points and 11 boards.
TAMPERE – Pyrinto didn’t break their confident stride, continuing a successful march through BBL Playoffs with an easy 91-61 victory against Nevezis in the first leg of the Quarter-Final tie in Tampere.
Although Nevezis has already proved to be a resilient bunch, but overcoming a 30-point deficit might be too big of a task even for them, as the second game will also be played in Finland.
The hosts asserted their dominance from the early going, finishing the first quarter with a 21-13 advantage, with a pair of free-throws by Benjamin Raymond pushing the gap to double digits early in the second period.
Pyrinto’s lead increased to 18 points following a 12-0 run to make it 33-15 with five minutes remaining in the first half. Trailing by 21 points at the interval, Nevezis did manage to limit the damage in the third quarter, getting within 58-43 before the start of the final frame.
However, the Finns decided to answer all the remaining questions already in the fourth quarter and not wait for the second game of the tie the following day, winning the period 33-18 and taking a 30-point win in the end.
Antero Lehto and Yannick Anzuluni led the winners in scoring with 19 points apiece, while Benjamin Raymond scored 18 points and grabbed five boards.
Meanwhile, Gintaras Leonavicius was by far the best player on Nevezis, scoring 23 points, while February MVP award winner Tauras Jogela added 13 points and seven rebounds.
KEDAINIAI – It didn’t take long for Tauras Jogela to find his groove in Nevezis, as the 20-year-old forward from Kaunas snatched the February MVP award after arriving to Kedainiai only a month ago.
The talented player, who has been regarded as one of the top Lithuanian prospects over the years, started the season with Zalgiris Kaunas, but was loaned to Nevezis at the start of February.
Over the three-game stretch during the month, Jogela averaged 19.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists and led the Kedainiai team past Valmiera in BBL Eight-Finals.
BBL.net caught up with the player to talk about how he’s progressing as a player, his move to Nevezis and how the monthly MVP caught him by surprise.
Tauras, congratulations on becoming the BBL MVP for the month of February. You moved to Kedainiai from Zalgiris Kaunas merely a month ago, would it be fair to say this comes as a bit of a surprise to you?
Thank you. It was definitely unexpected for me, personally. I didn’t expect to be acknowledged and appreciated in this way. That month flew past really fast.
You had a 19-point deficit after the first game against Valmiera in the Eight-Final round, but managed to overcome this hurdle already in the first quarter of the second game. What helped you through this situation?
The first game against Valmiera on the road was really difficult and the six-hour journey to Latvia had a very negative effect. I think our self-confidence and energy from the very start of the game was the key to closing the gap in the second game.
Pyrinto Tampere awaits you in the Quarter-Final stage. How would you rate your chances of advancing though to the Semi-Finals, knowing you’ll play both games on the road?
It will really be very tough and difficult, but we’re not planning to give up just yet.
After arriving to Nevezis, you said that the most important thing for you is a chance to play. Are you happy with your role in the team?
I’m very happy and excited to be here. The coach has shown confidence in me and I’m getting a lot of playing time, as well.
Having been in both situations, what do you think is more valuable – practicing with experienced Euroleague players or getting minutes on a weaker team?
Practicing with Euroleague level players in Zalgiris has helped me a lot and I’m happy to have the chance to show what I’ve learned on the court. It was definitely a useful experience for me.
Do you feel you have grown as a player from the start of the season? Which part of your game did you work on the most?
I feel I have improved and got stronger – both mentally and physically. I couldn’t point out specific elements of my game, as I’ve tried to polish and improve my all-around game and a bit everywhere.
You were considered one of the most talented prospects in your age group in the whole of Europe, but you’ve had some problems with injuries. Do you feel you’ve still got something to show the world? What’s your focus during the practices?
The injury definitely was a setback. After those seven months without basketball, I lost some of my confidence, but that’s all long gone and way back in the past now. Every single day, I work on my game and try show what I can do. I’d say the main focus during practices is on improving my shooting.
SIAULIAI – Siauliai started the BBL Quarter-Finals on the right note, taking a 66-60 victory against the defending champions Ventspils in the first leg of the tie in Lithuania.
The Latvian side will now need to win by at least seven points at home on Saturday, March 15.
The hosts broke away in the second quarter, taking a 35-28 lead at the halftime break, which they increased to a game-high 19-point advantage at 55-36, heading into the final break.
However, the Harvey Grant-led Ventspils battled back in the final frame, cutting the gap to six points, as the final buzzer sounded.
Travis Leslie led the winners in scoring with 11 points and also added eight rebounds, Chris Cooper and Julius Jucikas chipped in 10 points apiece for Siauliai.
For Ventspils, Harvey Grant had a game-high 15 points and 10 rebounds, with no other player reaching double digits. Lorenzo Williams chipped in with 9 points and six assists.
NORRKOPING ‒ Tonybet Prienai finished the job they started on Sunday and registered their second victory against the Norrkoping Dolphins in as many days to advance to the BBL Semi-Finals.