Having enjoyed a spectacular month of October, Gintaras Leonavicius of Nevezis Kedainiai earned the first monthly Most Valuable Player honors in the new Baltic Basketball League (BBL) season.
The 30-year-old Lithuanian swingman helped his club win all three games during the month, while putting up great numbers on both ends of the court, averaging 17.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2.6 steals per game.
His most spectacular performance came on October 12th against Barsy Atyrau, when the player scored 18 points on 7-of-11 field goal attempts, grabbed seven boards, made five steals and dished out three assists for a total ranking of 27.
Leonavicius will be presented with the award on November 5th in Kedainiai before the game between Nevezis and the visiting Siauliai.
TAMPERE – Pyrinto registered their second victory in as many games after holding off a fourth-quarter comeback by Jekabpils to win 87-80 on Sunday evening.
The Finnish team improved to a 2-0 record in Group A, while Jekabpils joined three other teams with a 2-2 record in the group.
The game was point-for-point in the early going, but Pyrinto went on an 11-2 run to break away to 19-12 lead seven minutes into the game.
However, Jekabpils cut the deficit to three points by the end of the period before catching up and even taking a slight edge at 38-37, as teams went to the locker rooms for the halftime break.
Pyrinto did not allow the visitors from Latvia to enjoy the advantage for long and after a 12-0 run in the third quarter and jumped ahead to a 63-50 lead.
Having scored 31 points in the period, the hosts entered the final ten minutes of play with a 14-point advantage, after Yannick Anzuluni made a basket at the buzzer, marking the end of the third quarter.
With just over three minutes remaining, Jekabpils had cut the deficit to just three points after Troy Barnies’ jump shot to make it 73-76, but Pyrinto replied with an 8-0 spurt.
Although the visitors had closed the gap to 80-84, Pyrinto sealed the win with precision from the free-throw line, making 3-of-4 down the stretch.
Damon Williams ad a game-high 21 points for the Finnish side, while Antero Lehto, Kelvin Lewis and Yannick Anzuluni all chipped in with 14 points each.
Rinalds Sisnins was the top-scorer for Jekabpils with 20 points and six assists, as Pavels Veselovs added a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds.
VENTSPILS – After suffering the first loss of the season in the previous game, last season’s strongest Baltic Basketball League (BBL) team Ventspils released the anger on the previously undefeated Nevezis, taking a 68-60 victory on Saturday.
Both teams now share the second position in Group B with a 3-1 record, as Siauliai (3-0) remain as the only undefeated team in the group.
Ventspils started the game with purpose and intent, getting off to a storming 12-2 start before increasing the lead to 12 points after a basket by Maris Gulbis.
Having finished the first quarter with an eight-point deficit, Nevezis had got as close as four points in the second quarter, but Ventspils pulled ahead after finishing the period on a 5-0 run to increase the gap to 42-29.
After a three-pointer by Lorenzo Williams four minutes into the second half, the home side increased the lead to a game-high 16 points at 51-35.
However, Nevezis wasn’t ready to give up this easy and won a seven-minute stretch 19-3 to tie the game at 54-54 after Tyrone Brazelton’s long-range bomb.
Ventspils answered with a 10-0 run to restore a double-digit advantage and, this time, did not waste the lead, cruising home with the win.
Janis Timma had a great game for the hosts, making 5-of-6 three-pointers and finishing with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Ronalds Zakis and Lorenzo Williams chipped in with 16 and 15 respectively.
Vilmantas Dilys was Nevezis’ top scorer with 15 points and five rebounds, Simas Buterlevicius added 12 points and seven boards, while Tyrone Brazelton also had 12.
RAKVERE – Despite a poor first half, Tarvas came back from behind to snatch a 73-69 victory against Tyco Rapla in an all-Estonian match-up in Group A on Saturday.
It was the second win in four games for the Rakvere club, while Rapla are winless three games into the season.
In a close first quarter, neither team managed to get a significant lead, but Tyco Rapla scored the last four points of the period to finish the first ten minutes of play with a 20-16 lead.
The visitors pulled ahead to a double digit lead by the end of the first half, taking a 40-29 lead before the sound of the buzzer marking the end of the second quarter.
Although the gap had reached a game-high 13 points in the third period after a basket by Ziga Fifolt, Tarvas cut the deficit to four points before the start of the final period.
It did not take long before the home side finally got the lead, as Maris Laksa’s three-pointer at the start of the fourth quarter put them up 53-52.
With a minute left in the game, the score was tied at 67-67, when Rait Keerles went one-of-two from the stripe to give Tarvas a one-point advantage.
Neither Martin Dorbek, nor Martin Paasoja managed to convert for Tyco, while the hosts sealed the win from the free-throw line.
Maris Laksa had a game-high 17 points, as Silver Leppik and Giedrius Gustas scored 14 points each, with the latter also adding eight assists for Tarvas.
For the losing side, Sven Kaldre and Andre Parn had 15 points each, while Rait-Riivo Laane collected 13.
PASVALYS – In a battle of previously undefeated teams, Pieno Zvaigzdes took an easy 91-73 victory against TonyBet Prienai at home on Saturday evening.
The Pasvalys side improved to an impressive 5-0 record and is one of three undefeated teams in the Baltic Basketball League (BBL), while the visitors from Prienai dropped to 3-1.
Arturas Jomantas scored 20 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and made five assists for Pieno Zvaigzdes, while Egidijus Dimsa and Paulius Sorokas added 14 points each.
For TonyBet, Arturas Valeika had a team-high 16 points and seven boards, Laimonas Kisielius collected 15 points, as Zygimantas Janavicius added 11 points.
UTENA – Barons came back from behind to upset Juventus on the road in Lithuania, taking a 79-76 victory in Group C action on Saturday evening.
The Latvian team registered the first win of the season after losing the first three, while Juventus dropped to a 2-2 record.
Halfway through the first period, the teams were tied at 14-14, but Barons went on a 14-0 run to jump ahead 28-14, eventually winning the opening quarter by 12 points.
However, the second quarter was very much a different story – Juventus came all the way back and even finished the half with a 39-38 advantage.
After three quarters, Juventus already had a 66-61 advantage, but Barons did not back off and eventually got back in front 75-73 with 44 seconds remaining after an and-one play by Karlis Apsitis.
Juventus had a couple opportunities to tie the game, but Ernestas Ezerskis and Nikita Barinov couldn’t get the shots to fall.
Having decided to foul intentionally, Juventus got back within a single point (76-77) after Aidas Viskontas made a three-pointer, but Karlis Apsitis sealed the win for Barons from the free-throw stripe.
Apisitis had a game-high 22 points, Salvis Metra scored 20 points and added five rebounds, while Ilmars Bermanis chipped in with 16 points and five boards for Barons.
For Juventus, Nikita Barinov was the top scorer with 13 points and eight rebounds, while Saulius Kulvietis, Averon Mathews and Gintaras Matulis chipped in with 11 each.
TARTU – In an Estonian derby of Group C, Tartu Rock celebrated a 93-50 victory against Valga Maks&Moorits on Saturday evening.
The win allowed Rock to improve to a 2-3 record, while Maks&Moorits lost for the second time in as many games.
After going point-for-point in the first quarter, Rock shot ahead in the second period after winning the quarter 25-10 to take a 43-29 lead at the half.
Maks&Moorits’ problems did not end with the halftime buzzer, quite the opposite – Rock kept pulling away in the second half.
The Tartu club allowed the visitors to score only 21 points throughout the third and fourth quarters, scoring 50 themselves to cruise to an easy victory in front of a home crowd.
Uros Lukovic had a game-high 26 points and 11 rebounds for Rock, Vincent Simpson had 19 points, five rebounds and six assists, while Kristen Meister chipped in with 12 points.
For Maks&Moorits, Sasha Avalic scored 14 points, while Kristjan Evart and Jonathan Dupree were the only other players in double digits with 12 points each.
PANEVEZYS – Anthony Bennet nailed a game-winning three-pointer with three seconds left to give Lietkabelis an 81-80 victory against Liepaja/Triobet in Group B action on Friday.
The debut of the club’s new head coach Algirdas Brazys could hardly have been any more dramatic, but it did end a horrible four-game losing streak for Lietkabelis, who registered the first win of the season.
Although the team from Liepaja led by as many as 16 points in the game, Lietkabelis went on a run in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 73-75 after a jump shot by Ryan Olander.
With just over a minute left, the visitors from Latvia were still ahead 80-76, but Anthony Bennet set up Olander for an assist to make it a one possession game.
In the next possession, Tomas Cerneckis forced Artis Ate to commit an offensive foul, with 19 seconds remaining to give the home side a chance to either win or tie the game.
Having called a timeout, Lietkabelis trusted the ball in Anthony Bennet’s hands and the American point guard did not disappoint, hitting the three-pointer for the win.
Darius Griskenas had 20 points and seven rebounds for Lietkabelis, Anthony Bennet scored 14, while Ryan Olander added 13 points and eight boards.
For Liepaja/Triobet, Artis Ate had a team-high 17 points, while Roberts Krumins chipped in with 13 points and six rebounds.
TALLINN – After an outstanding second half, Tallinna Kalev registered their second win of the season, defeating Valmiera 78-56 in the Estonian capital on Friday evening.
In a tightly contested Group A, both teams have identical records after winning two and losing two games each.
Valmiera started the game slightly better and had a slight advantage after the first quarter, as they led 14-10. However, the Tallinn club did not allow the visitors to run away with the advantage.
The teams were tied at 28-28 at the half, but Tallinn Kalev started the third period with a 12-2 run and broke away into a double-digit lead.
Illimar Pilk started the fourth quarter with a three-pointer to increase the home side’s advantage to 57-40 and Valmiera never managed to bounce back.
Having gone 5-of-7 from three-point range, Pilk ended the night as the leading scorer with 22 points, while Reimo Tamm added 18 points and six rebounds.
For the losing side, Raimonds Gabrans collected 12 points, while Janis Kaufmanis was the only other player in double digits with 10.
KEDAINIAI – In the last game of the month, Nevezis registered a confident 92-75 victory against the visiting Liepaja/Triobet at home on Thursday evening in Group B action.
The win allowed the Lithuanian side to improve to a 3-0 record in the BBL, while the team from Liepaja lost for the third time in as many games.
Nevezis’ offense was working in full swing from the early going, as the hosts established an early double-digit lead after a three-pointer by Tyrone Brazelton to make it 21-11 six minutes into the game.
The gap only grew in the second quarter and Liepaja/Triobet found themselves with a 21-point deficit at the half, with the scoreboard showing 55-34 in favor of Nevezis.
Having maintained a solid lead throughout the third period, the home side relaxed in the fourth, allowing the visitors to go on a 12-0 run to cut it to 72-81 with three minutes remaining.
However, Nevezis managed to halt the brewing comeback, with solid play down the stretch and stayed among the five unbeaten teams in the competition.
Tyrone Brazelton had a game-high 22 points and five assists for the winners, Gintaras Leonavicius added 20 points, while Valdas Dabkus, added a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds.
For Liepaja/Triobet, Artis Ate had 18 points, Lauris Blaus scored 15 and added nine rebounds, while Roberts Krumins and Ingus Jakovics chipped in with 11 each.