Fourth-quarter revival spurs Valmiera past Jekabpils


VALMIERA – After being pulled back and forth for three quarters, Valmiera finally took matters into their own hands and used the final ten minutes of the ballgame to secure a blow-out 82-55 (16-11; 15-15; 18-18; 33-11) home victory against Jekabpils in Group B of the Baltic Basketball League.

The game started slowly for both team, as they struggled to find easy looks. However, Valmiera was slightly more successful on the offensive end and managed to jump ahead by five after the first quarter.

Baskets started finding the net more in the second quarter and Valmiera used an 8-0 run push the margin to eleven. By the end of the half, nevertheless, Jekabpils were back in it, as the gap shrank back to five.

The home side managed to kick the second half on a high note and was up by double-digits in a matter of minutes. But yet again, the visitors were quick to respond and the deficit swiftly melted. The sides were separated by the same five points entering the fourth quarter

Apparently, that was when everything clicked for Valmiera. They opened the final ten minutes with an 18-0 run to take control of a 67-44 lead and there was no turning back from that point on.

Viktors Iljins had game-highs with 21 points and 10 rebounds for the winners, while Karlis Apsitis ended the game with 18. Martins Vinauds contributed 10 points to the victory.

Two players hit double-digits in scoring for Jekabpils – Pavels Veselovs scored 16, while Devin Taylor chipped in with 12 points and seven rebounds.

Lietkabelis early to leave Prienai in dust


PANEVEZYS – A terrific first quarter set the groundwork for a big Lietkabelis’ victory against their Lithuanian foes Prienai. The Group B battle ended without many surprises, as the home side cruised to a 89-67 (20-7; 28-20; 21-15; 20-25) victory.

Lietkabelis shocked their opponents right from the get-go, as the kept their opponents scoreless for six minutes, while scoring 12 points of their own. The margin stayed in double digits for the remainder of the quarter.

The home side was stronger at the start of the second quarter as well and after a 10-0 run, Lietkabelis was already ahead 33-11. The home team managed to keep hold of the huge lead and entered halftime with a 21-point lead.

Not much changed after in the second half, as the Panevezys side’s lead kept expanding, before it reached game-high 27 points at the end of the third quarter. Prienai could not mount a miracle comeback and ended up falling 89-67.

Zygimantas Janavicius was the backbone of Lietkabelis’ offense, as the point guardscored 13 points and dished out 11 assists. Tautvydas Lydeka also scored 13, while Evaldas Zabas added 10.

Dominykas Milka led Prienai with 14 points, Ovidijus Varanauskas and Paulius Vaitiekunas had 11 each, while Vidmantas Sragauskis ended the game with 10.

Parnu's late rush not enough to down Pyrinto


PARNU ­– After a thrilling third quarter comeback, Parnu nearly came to upset Pyrinto in the first matchup of Group A on Wednesday evening. The Estonian club rallied from a 15-point halftime deficit just to fall short 74-70 (24-12; 18-15; 13-30; 19-13).

Pyrinto were on the upper end from the initial minutes, as the first six points of the game, which quickly turned into a double digit lead not even halfway through the first quarter.

We saw the margin reach 16 points in the second quarter, before the home side answered with a 7-0 run to cut into single-digits. However, Pyrinto managed to play out the final minutes of the half strong and improved their lead to fifteen – 42-27.

It took only six minutes for the tables to turn. What seemed to become a blow-out loss soon turned into a nail-biting thriller of a game, as Parnu had already converted on six three-pointers in the second half and were back in the game. The scoreboard already blasted a 57-55 lead for the home team.

The fourth quarter was nip and tuck, as neither team managed to run ahead more then by four points. With a minute remaining and the score tied, Antero Lehto nailed down a clutch three-pointer, which gave Pyrinto some breathing room. They made good of their free-throws and came out on top – 74-70.

Damon Williams was the leading scorer and rebounder for Pyrinto, as he had 15 and 10. Asenso Ampim and Kevin Parrom contributed 13 points, while Antero Lehto chipped in with 11.

Silver Leppik and Sandis Silavs were the main guns for Parnu, as they scored respectively 21 and 20 points. Renato Lindmets was also in double-digits with 11 points.

Nevezis blown out in season-opener


KEDAINIAI – The first Lithuanian derby in the 11th season of the Baltic Basketball League ended in a blowout, as Juventus bashed past Nevezis in tremendous fashion, taking a 88-64 (20-19; 27-17; 25-15; 16-13) victory in Group C matchup.

While the first quarter seemed as close as it gets, as both teams exchanged successful outings and neither team could gather a tangible lead – the score was 20-19 and Juventus were ahead by one.

Things changed drastically in the second, as the side from Utena quickly pushed the margin to double-digits, mostly with the help of their multiple three-pointers.

The visitors kept the intensity high in the second half as well and a 9-0 run early gave them an insurmountable 20-point lead. Any Nevezis’ attempt to reduce the gap would soon be rebuffed and Juventus forcefully finished the game with an 88-64 lead.

Six players ended the game in double-digits for Juventus, as Saulius Kulvietis and Nikita Barinov led the way with 16 points each. Arvydas Siksnius scored 14, while Valdas Dabkus finished the game with 13 points and eight rebounds.

For the losing side, Rytis Biliartas, who also grabbed 11 rebounds, and Sarunas Kulevicius were the leading scorers with 12 points apiece, while Andrius Aleksandrovas ended the game with 10.

Maks&Moorits secure first victory


VALGA ­– After a disappointing season in the Baltic Basketball League (BBL) last year, Valga Maks&Moorits started the 11th BBL season on a high note, taking care of TLU Kalev at home with a 86-75 (26-15; 24-27; 20-17; 16-16) victory on Tuesday evening.

The home side took control of the game from the get-go, jumping ahead by seven with only a minute and a half played. While their opponents soon answered with a small run of their own, Maks&Moorits kept a safe lead throughout the game. After eight consecutive points from the home team, the lead reached 13 points only to be cut to 11 with a buzzer-beating shot by Ivar Tulit.

TLU Kalev were not ready to give up just yet and managed to close in into single-digits – the teams were separated by eight points at halftime – 50-42.

After the break, the margin shrank even more, as the visitors got two baskets and reduced the gap to only four. However, that is as close as they came – Maks&Moorits steadily improved their lead back to double-digits and at the end of the quarter were once again up by 11.

The home didn’t let up in the final quarter and safely coasted to the finish line to end up atop with a 86-75 lead.

Reinis Strupovics was the leading scorer for Valga with 27 points, while Jurijs Aleksejevs added 19 points and 14 rebounds. Kristo Saage chipped in with 17 points.

Thomas Droney had an impressive outing for TLU Kalev, which, however, wasn’t sufficient for the victory. The American amassed 30 points and 10 rebounds and led the game in scoring. Reimo Tamm had troubles at the free-throw line but still managed to collect 14 points. Robertas Grabauskas finished the game with 12 points to his name.

Tyco Rapla kick off with overtime drama


RAPLA – The Baltic Basketball League season kicked off with an intense battle between Tyco Rapla and Tarvas, where the home side was able to come out on top with a 95-90 (20-13; 24-27; 15-21; 22-20) overtime victory on Tuesday evening.

While the game started with the two teams exchanging leads in the initial minutes, great defense by the home side allowed them to jump ahead by seven, while keeping the visitors scoreless for four minutes.

However, Tarvas started the second quarter strong and within a minute were back in the game, as the scoreboard glared only a 20-18 deficit. While the teams traded punch after punch, Rapla managed to stay ahead with a slight lead and were in front by four at halftime.

Two early buckets pushed the margin to eight, but Tarvas came storming back and with seven minutes played in the third quarter, finally evened the score – 54-54. An array of free-throws allowed the visitors to grasp their first lead of the game, as they were finally in front by two entering the final quarter.

A 10-0 run in the midst of the fourth quarter allowed Tarvas to take control of what seemed a tangible – seven point lead, which, however, was cut short by an 8-0 run from their opponents. For the final two minutes, both teams scored only from the free-throw line.

After forty minutes of game-time the score was all tied and the two teams headed for the first overtime of the season, where Janar Soo took matters into his own hands. Two consecutive three-pointers put Tyco Rapla ahead by six and decided the outcome of the game.

Kristers Zeidaks was unstoppable for Rapla, as he collected a solid double-double with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Martin Paasoja added 18 points, while Rait-Riivo Laane and Rait Keerles finished with 11 points each. Ernestas Ezerskis and Janar Soo ended the game with 10 apiece.

The losing side had two impressive double-doubles, as Kaspars Cipruss amassed 22 points and 17 rebounds, while Roberts Stumbris collected 21 points and 13 boards. Sten-Timmu Sokk scored 18, while Mario Paiste chipped in with 13 points.

Liepaja/Triobet take the Olybet BBL Cup crown!


LIEPAJA – Liepaja/Triobet managed to defend their home grounds in the Olybet BBL Cup Final as they beat TU/Rock 74-61 to claim their first BBL Cup title in club history.

The crowd was buzzing as the two teams tipped the game off and Liepaja/Triobet gave their fans something to cheer about from the initial moments, as they surged ahead with an 8-2 lead. Mareks Jurevicus and Janis Antrops soon hit a three-pointer each and created some breathing space for Liepaja. The score after the first quarter announced a 20-14 lead for the home side.

The two rivals traded blow for blow for the majority of the quarter until Liepaja finally managed to cut loose and amassed a nine point lead. However, two successful trips for TU/Rock shrank the lead to just four – 36-40 after the first half.

The home side started the second half with nearly unbreakable defense, limiting their opponents to just three points in the first five minutes and that allowed the Latvians to jump ahead by 9.  TU/Rock had already caught up with their opponents, but a couple of open looks to finish the quarter helped Liepaja/Triobet regain momentum and an eight point lead.

The visitors couldn’t do much to trim the lead as Liepaja retained the excellent defensive performance. The margin had reached 17 before the Estonian side staged their final rally. All they managed to do was reduce the margin to 13.

Mareks Jurevicus, who was named MVP of the tournament, was the top scorer for the winners, as he collected 13 points, Edgaras Zelionis, Janis Antrops and Dwayne Johnson all contributed 10 points each.

Joosep Toome and Augustas Peciukevicius led TU/Rock with 13 points each.

Andrius Mazutis, captain of the team was happy the team played well and hopes they can keep it up throughout the season:

“We need to take it step by step. We won the cup, now we need to step up in the regular season of the BBL and the Latvian league. Last season wasn’t too good, but hopefully we’ll have reached some admirable goals by the end of the season. Of course, there is still a lot of work to do.”

Ventspils victorious in Bronze Final


LIEPAJA – Ventspils came out on top in the battle for third place in the Olybet BBL Cup, as they beat Siauliai 86-76 in the Bronze Final on Sunday afternoon.

Ventspils took initiative early on and after a couple of open three-pointers, were up by double digits – 13-3 However, Siauliai answered with five consecutive baskets to even the score.  The Latvians converted on a free-throw to give them a one point lead before the end of the first quarter.

There weren’t many changes in the second, as Ventspils quickly pushed the lead to seven, soon to suffer a rebuff from the Lithuanian side – Siauliai responded with a 10-0 run to pull ahead. The teams exchanged baskets and entered halftime with a 32-35 score headlining the scoreboard.

Yet another run took place at the start of the second half, as Ventspils finally managed to regain the double-digit lead. This time, however, the Latvian side was able to keep hold of it. The teams were separated by 13 points before the final quarter.

The margin had reached a game-high 17 points before Rokas Giedraitis took matters into his own hands. He scored 9 points in just a minute to keep the game measurably close. A 11-1 run late in the final quarter allowed Siauliai to close in a cut the deficit to just four with a minute remaining. However, poor decisions offensively stopped them from getting any closer. Ventspils converted on their free-throws and celebrated an 87-76 victory.

Troy Barnies was the top scorer for the winning side with 15 points. Zanis Peiners added 13, while Maris Gulbis and Andrejs Grazulis chipped in with 11 each. Artjoms Butjankovs and Martins Meiers ended the game with 10 apiece.

Rokas Giedraitis was the target man for Siauliai, as he scored 17. Tyler Olander and Julius Jucikas both finished the game with 10.

Ventspils Head Coach Roberts Stelmahers was pleased with how the preseason is going and reminded that the team is still a work in progress:

“I am happy with how our team played today and while it’s still just the preparation for the season, it was really a pretty solid performance for us. However, we need to keep our consistency – we can’t have one solid game and then two poor ones.”

Liepaja/Triobet squeeze past Ventspils


LIEPAJA – Liepaja/Triobet came out victorious 71-70 after a nail-biting semifinal against Ventspils. The home side will now face TU/Rock in the Olybet BBL Cup final.

Liepaja/Triobet came into the game firing with all cylinders and were early to grab a double digit lead. The home side jumped ahead 15-3 to start the game, just to see the lead melt until the end of the quarter. Ventspils scored 12 unanswered points to silence the nearly packed Liepaja Olympic Centre.

Neither team could get the best of their opponents in the second quarter, as both teams struggled to find the net throughout the remainder of the half. The scoreboard showed 29-27 – a two-point lead for Liepaja entering the break.

While both teams got scratch on the offensive end, Ventspils suffered a big blow not even halfway through the third quarter, as Harvey Grant quickly picked up his fourth and fifth fouls in less than a minute, forcing him to sit out the rest of the game. The Latvian teams traded free-throw after free-throw and before the fourth quarter, the score was all tied – 47 apiece.

Ventspils had the upper hand at first, but the home side managed to turn it around with an 8-0 run to get back in front. A couple of great defensive plays and a circus finish from Dwayne Johnson pushed Liepaja/Triobet’s lead to seven. Ventspils quickly responded with two three-pointers, Liepaja missed two of their six free-throws and were still in front by four with 5 seconds remaining. Mire Chatman closed the game with a buzzer-beating three-pointer to trim the lead to a single point.

Liepaja’s hero of the day, Dwayne Johnson, was adamant that despite the fact that a couple weeks ago, TU/Rock were demolished by 28 points, tomorrow their opponents will be in much better shape than when they last met them.

“They’re a great team, they play really really hard. I am sure the game will be much more difficult than the last time we faced them. You can clearly see that they’re in much better shape now. As for me, I’m going to give it a 110% every night. And I know everyone puts in the extra amount of effort. It’s definitely going to be a team thing!”

Johnson had game-highs with 22 points and 6 assists for Liepaja/Triobet, while Gints Atrops added 12.

For Ventspils, Andrejs Grazulis was the top scorer with 18 points. Mire Chatman added 13, while Troy Barnies contributed 11.

Rock survive thriller in Olybet BBL Cup Semifinal


LIEPAJA – TU/Rock used a massive third quarter run to ignite a victory in Liepaja, as they beat Siauliai ­62-59 (20-25; 8-14; 23-5; 11-15) and made their way to the Olybet BBL Cup Final, where they face the winners of the Liepaja/Triobet – Ventspils Semifinal.

The teams started the game off trading blows one after another, but Siauliai managed to put up a 9-2 run which allowed them to amass their first tangible lead – 17-10. Mostly because of the input from Janar Talts, who scored half of his team’s points in the first quarter, the Estonian side managed to cut the deficit to five, as the scoreboard displayed a 25-20 Siauliai lead.

The second quarter started sluggishly, as neither team managed to get a field goal to drop for the first three minutes. However, despite that, Siauliai slowly yet steadily gathered a double-digit lead. The sides were separated by eleven entering halftime.

Tables turned in the third quarter, as Tartu went racing back and after an 18-2 run to start the quarter, the 11-point deficit was quickly wiped away. The Estonians won the third quarter 23-5 and were already in front by seven points entering the final 10 minutes.

Siauliai started the final quarter on a higher note, but every time they would finally catch up with their opponents, TU/Rock would answer with a three-pointer to make it a two possession lead.

However, with three minutes remaining on the clock, TU/Rock were forced into two 24-second shot-clock violations and that helped the Lithuanians tie up the game. Karolis Petrukonis scored the go-ahead basket with 33 seconds on the clock and Augustas Peciukevicius later converted a free-throw to push the lead to three, while Siauliai couldn’t get any of their possibly game-tying contested three-pointers to fall.

TU/Rock point guard Augustas Peciukevicius, who finished the game with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists, had his share on the breakthrough third quarter:

“Coach just told us to get it together. If I’m not mistaken, we only made 30 percent of our 2-point field goals and most of them were good, easy looks. We continued working hard on defense, started converting on our chances and with a few strokes of luck, we had the breakthrough.”

When asked, who he would like to meet in the final, Peciukevicius “A couple of weeks ago we lost to Liepaja by 20, so we obviously want to get our revenge. However, it’s been quite a while that we’ve played Ventspils, so it’d be quite interesting to try them out. All in all, we’re up for either match-up.”

Apart from Peciukevicius, the Estonian side received a solid impact from Janar Talts, who had 13 points and 9 rebounds, while Tanel Kurbas had 12 points.

On the losing side, Ryan Olander and Jonathan Lee had 12 points each, while Gintaras Leonavicius was also in double-digits with 10.