Regular season concludes, playoff pairs clear


The Baltic Basketball League (BBL) regular season concluded on Sunday evening, as all 16 playoff teams became clear after the weekend’s action. In accordance with the BBL regulations, the first five teams from each of the three groups and the best sixth-placed team advanced to the postseason.

Tarvas became the last club to seal a playoff spot, finishing fifth in Group A, after Tyco Rapla lost out on a ticket to the next round after being defeated by Norrkoping Dolphins in the last game of the first stage.

Pyrinto, Dolphins, Jekabpils, Valmiera and Tarvas were the five teams to qualify to the playoffs from Group A. Ventspils, Siauliai, Nevezis, Barsy, Lietkabelis were the five top teams in Group B, while Pieno Zvaigzdes, Tonybet, TU/Rock, Barons kvartals and Juventus advanced from Group C.

Liepaja/Triobet became the best sixth-placed team, having finished with a 4-8 record in Group B, while Tyco Rapla and Caspiy, who were sixth in Group A and Group C respectively.

The playoff schedule will be finalized and announced on Monday, February 17th.

The full list of qualified teams: Pyrinto, Dolphins, Jekabpils, Valmiera, Tarvas, Ventspils, Siauliai, Nevezis, Barsy, Lietkabelis, Pieno Zvaigzdes, Tonybet, TU/Rock, Barons kvartals, Juventus, Liepaja/Triobet.

Following the BBL regulations, the BBL Eight-Final pairings were made based on the BBL team ranking after the regular season, with the highest ranked team paired with lowest ranked team from those to have qualified for the playoffs:

In accordance with the Baltic Basketball League Regulations, season 2013/2014 all 21 teams are ranked after the BBL Regular season as follows:

Tyco Rapla lose to Dolphins, miss playoffs


NORRKOPING ‒ The Baltic Basketball League (BBL) regular season came to a close in Sweden, as Norrkoping Dolphins denied Tyco Rapla a place in the postseason, defeating the Estonian visitors 84-52 on Sunday evening.

A victory would have allowed Rapla to catch the playoff train, squeeze past Rakvere Tarvas (4-8) into the fifth spot in Group A due to a better head-to-head score. 

However, the Estonians didn’t manage to pull off an upset and finished the regular season in sixth place with a 3-9 record, while the Dolphins, 9-3, were second.

Rapla had given their supporters hope after going on a 14-2 run in the first half to turn a 13-9 deficit into an eight-point advantage at the beginning of the second quarter.

However, the good news ended here for the guests, as the Dolphins responded with 17 unanswered points to take a 32-23 lead, with William Walker scoring 11 points in this stretch.

Having finished the first half with a double-digit, the hosts continued what they had started and ran away to a 57-38 advantage after three quarters, before finishing the game with a thunderous final period.

Walker paced the winners with 17 points and nine rebounds, Jan Tomanec collected 14 points and six boards, while Niklas Rydgren added 12 points.

Martin Paasoja was the only Tyco Rapla played in double figures with 12 points, Martin Dorbek scored eight points, while Ziga Fifolt chipped in with seven points and nine rebounds.


Ventspils smash Siauliai, win Group B


VENTSPILS ‒ Ventspils secured the first placed in Group B with a 98-56 victory against fellow group leaders Siauliai on Saturday.

The teams entered the last game of the regular season tied for the first spot with an identical 9-2 record, but the Latvians came out on top.

Ventspils broke away right from the get-go, starting the game with an 8-0 stretch and going on to establish a 26-15 lead after the first quarter.

The nightmarish start for Siauliai continued in the second period, as Lorenzo Williams and Janis Timma guided the defending BBL champions into a 50-25 halftime advantage.

The second half was merely formality, but Ventspils kept pulling away and led by as many as 46 points in an unexpected blowout.

Lorenzo Williams had a team-high 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists, Janis Timma scored 18 points and dished out six dimes, while Maris Gulbis added 17 points.

For Siauliai, Vytas Sulskis collected 21 points and eight rebounds, Darius Pakamanis scored 12 points, with no other players in double figures.


Lietkabelis punch playoff ticket in Liepaja


LIEPAJA ‒ Lietkabelis crowned a successful playoff push by taking a 68-58 win against Liepaja/Triobet to book a spot in the postseason.

The Lithuanian team won three of the last four regular season games, climbing to fifth place in Group B with a 4-8 mark.

However, Liepaja/Triobet is the main favorite to advance as the best sixth-placed team, barring any unforeseen events in Group A.

Lietkabelis had built a small lead in the first half of the game, but it was a close affair until the very final minutes, as Liepaja came back to take a 47-46 lead before the fourth quarter.

With the score 48-47 in favor of Lietkabelis, Kristaps Miglinieks drained a three-pointer and Paul Hill added a pair of free throws to give Liepaja/Triobet a 52-48 advantage.

However, Lietkabelis weren’t ready to give up a playoff spot this easily – the Lithuanian team retook the lead at 66-54 after Goran Vrbanc completed an 18-2 run with a three-pointer.

Vrbanc led Lietkabelis in scoring with 18 points, Ivan Nelyubov scored 16 points, while Darrick Leonard added 12 points and five rebounds.

For Liepaja/Triobet, Paul Hill collected team-high 18 points and grabbed six rebounds, while Kristaps Miglinieks chipped in with 12 points.


Valmiera keep Tarvas waiting


VALMIERA ‒ Tarvas didn’t seize the opportunity to clinch a playoff spot on the road in Latvia, as they were handed a 75-66 loss by Valmiera on Saturday.

The fate of the Rakvere side will be decided in the last regular season game between Norrkoping Dolphins and Tyco Rapla.

In order to progress to the BBL Eight-Finals, Tarvas will need their Estonian compatriots to lose in Sweden. Otherwise, it will be Rapla going through.

Tarvas failed to contain the league’s leading scorer Janis Kaufmanis, who scored 21 points in the first half alone, guiding Valmiera to a 40-32 lead at the intermission.

Although Rakvere had got as close as six points in the third period, the hosts put some separation between the sides, entering the final period with a 57-47 advantage.

After five points in a row by Rait Keerles, Tarvas had cut the gap to 63-60, but Valmiera replied with a 7-0 run of their own to put the game out of reach.

Janis Kaufmanis finished the game with 34 points, Kaspars Cipruss added a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds, with Kristaps Dargais chipping in with 11 points and eight boards.

For Tarvas, Rait Keerles scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, while Gregory Jenkins collected 14 points in a loss.

Tonybet stroll past Barons kvartals


PRIENAI – An outstanding second half performance allowed Prienai Tonybet achieve an easy 103-68 victory against Barons kvartals in BBL Group C action on Saturday evening. 

The home side improved to a 10-2 record and secured the second seed, while the visitors kept control of the fourth seed with a 5-7 record despite the loss.

Although Prienai had jumped ahead by 12 with two minutes left to play in the first quarter, the Latvians were back in it after a 10-2 run to close the high-scoring quarter.

After going neck to neck for the whole second quarter, the home side burst ahead after the break. Tonybet started the second half with an 18-4 run and never looked back. The final quarter was even more one-sided, as Vaidas Cepukaitis scored 12 of his 14 points and left the visiting side far away in the rear-view mirror.

Mindaugas Lukauskis and Arturas Valeika were the top scorers for Prienai, as they had 19 and 17 respectively. Vaidas Cepukaitis and Arvydas Siksnius ended the game with 14 apiece, while Zygimantas Janavicius had an 11 point a 10 assist performance. Martynas Linkevicius also had a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Davis Zonne led Barons kvartals in scoring with 13 points to his name, while Andris Epners finished with 12. Karlis Apsitis and Roberts Mednis chipped in with 9 each.

TU/Rock hold back Juventus


TARTU – TU/Rock closed their BBL regular season with a 77-62 victory after holding back Juventus’ fourth-quarter surge on Saturday evening.

The victory allowed TU/Rock to improve their record to 8-4 and finish as the third seed in Group C. Meanwhile, the Lithuanians’ record dropped to 5-7, as they finished fifth in the group.

The Estonians took matters into their own hands right from the start, as they mounted an 11-3 lead halfway through the first quarter. Although Juventus made strides to trim the margin, it was to no avail and Tartu took control of their first double-digit lead late in the second.

TU/Rock came out even more aggressive after halftime, while the visitors struggled to find ways to the basket. Although Vincent Simpson’s two-pointer pushed the margin to 19, Juventus came back firing with a 6-0 run to close the third quarter and a 7-0 run to start the fourth.

When the game was looking to become a nerve-wrecker, Janar Talts stepped up with 10 consecutive points for the Estonian side, and allowed them to regain a tangible lead.

Talts led the way for his team with 17 points to his name. Vilmantas Dilys was no less impressive, as he scored 15 points and corralled 10 rebounds. Timo Eichfuss had 13 points, while Augustas Peciukevicius chipped in with 12.

Only two players were in double-digits for Utena, as Karolis Petrukonis collected an impressive double-double of 18 points and 14 reobunds, while Keyron Sheard ended the game with 11. Averon Matthews had scored 9 points in only ten minutes before fouling out.

Jekabpils end Tallinna Kalev's hopes


JEKABPILS ‒ Jekabpils finished the BBL regular season with a win, defeating Tallinna Kalev 88-67 to improve to a 7-5 record and seal the third spot in Group A.

The Latvian team had already qualified to the playoffs previously, while the visitors from the Estonian capital had their last hopes taken away, dropping to 3-9.

The hosts ran away to a double-digit lead already in the early going, taking a 14-2 lead after Michal Hlebowicki’s lay-up.

Although Tallinna Kalev hadn’t allowed Jekabpils to get out of sight, a three-pointer each from Troy Barnies and Rinalds Sirsnins restored a double-digit gap at 42-32  at the halftime break.

After a 9-0 run midway through the third quarter, Jekabpils increased the gap to 63-38 and answered all the essential questions even before the start of the final period.

Troy Barnies put together another impressive display, finishing the game with 21 points, five rebounds and six assists, Pavels Veselovs had 18 points, while Martins Kravcenko added 12.

Kaido Saks and Reimo Tamm collected 17 points apiece for Tallinna Kalev, while Renato Lidmets was the only other player in double digits for the visitors.


Juventus win low-scoring game in Valga


VALGA ‒ Maks&Moorits finished the BBL regular season without a single win, after losing 58-45 to the visiting Juventus on Friday evening.

The win allowed the Lithuanian side to improve to a 5-6 record, tying Barons kvartals for fourth place, while Valga went 0-12.

Juventus solved most of their problems very early in the game, going on a 10-0 run right from the get-go, with Keyron Sheard scoring three baskets.

The guests led by as many as 15 points in the second quarter on several occasions and finished with a 32-19 advantage at the half.

Having maintained a solid double-digit lead throughout the third period, Juventus allowed their lead to dwindle down to seven points, as Ferg Myrick made it 48-41 with eight minutes on the clock.

However, Saulius Kulvietis responded with four points in a row and Averon Matthews added two more to restore the gap, as the visitors from Utena got the win.

Kulvietis finished the game with 21 points and eight rebounds for Juventus, while Keyron Sheard was the only other scorer in double figures with 10 points, five rebounds and four assists.

Kristjan Evart had a team-high 15 points for Maks&Moorits, while Ferg Myrick and Viljar Veski added eight points each in a losing effort.


Barnies leads Jekabpils past Pyrinto


JEKABPILS – Pyrinto were handed only their second defeat of the season in Latvia, as Jekabpils outlasted the Finnish visitors 77-76 in overtime on Wednesday evening.

The Latvian team jumped into the third spot in Group A with a 6-5 mark, while Pyrinto finished the regular season with a solid 10-2 record.

After a pretty even first quarter, Pyrinto broke away to a double-digit lead at 32-22 following a good start of the second period. However, Jekabpils responded with a 12-5 run in the next few minutes to cut the gap to 39-34 at the halftime break.

Troy Barnies, who was presented with the January MVP award before the game, took over the game in the beginning of the third period, scoring seven points early in the second half, as the hosts jumped out in front.

Jekabpils stayed ahead as the teams kept exchanged baskets, but Pyrinto regained the lead at 63-62. The hosts, didn’t trail for long, with Barnies making it 67-64 from the stripe.

Trailing by three points with three seconds to go, Pyrinto managed to force an extra period after Lewis converted all three free-throws after being fouled on a three-point attempt just before the final buzzer.

Having led Jekabpils throughout the game, Barnies scored eight points in overtime, giving the hosts a 76-73 lead with 22 seconds left to play, but Lewis tied it all up again with an and-one play on the other end.

However, Pavels Veselovs had the last say in the game, drawing a foul and going to the stripe for two foul shots with only a couple of seconds to spare. The big man made the first shot and missed the second on purpose, as Jekabpils came out on top in the thriller.

Troy Barnies paced his team with a game-high 31 points and nine rebounds, as Cam Rundles was the only other Jekabpils players in double digits with 15 points.

Pyrinto’s guard Kelvin Lewis collected 21 points and eight boards, Damon Williams added a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Benjamin Raymond chipped in with 14 points and nine boards.