BBL Weekly Review: Week I


The Baltic Basketball League (BBL) presents its weekly review that will provide fans with the opportunity to quickly overlook all the main events and spectacular performances that took place in the league.

The first edition of the review will get you up to speed with the events, preceding the official start of the 2013-14 BBL campaign as well.

TROPHY. Nevezis found their way to their first trophy of the season, coming up victorious in the Vikonda BBL Cup 2013.

EXPANDING. The geography of the BBL expanded to Sweden and Finland, as Norrkoping Dolphins returned to the league after a two-year absence, while Pyrinto Tampere became the first Finnish team to participate in the Baltic Basketball League. Their opening game was marked with a 75:54 victory over Tallinn Kalev.

DEFENSE. Valga Maks&Moorits achieved a new BBL record already in their first game of the season. However, it’s not a record they’d wish to be a part of. In their game against Pieno Zvaigzdes, the Estonian team only managed to grind out 36 points. This was also the lowest-scoring game of the season so far.

PLUS/MINUS. Although Antero Lehto showed nothing out of the ordinary individually, rounding 12 points in the 26 minutes he played, he had the biggest +/- rating this week, as his team outscored Tallinn Kalev by 30 points with him on the court.  Ultimately, Pyrinto ended up winning by 21.

DOWNTOWN CAMPER. Pyrinto’s Kelvin Lewis launched 13 long range bombs and converted on 7, scoring all his 21 points from long range.

CENTURY. Tonybet Prienai became the first team to reach triple digits in scoring after trampling over Caspiy 100:43.

Martin Dorbek of Tyco Rapla became this week’s MVP with an impressive performance against Tallinn Kalev. Not only did he lead the team in scoring with 17 points, but he was also the best in several other statistical categories.  The forward also contributed 10 rebounds and 6 steals, totaling an impressive 30 ranking points. However, despite the input by Dorbek, his team failed to overcome their Estonian foes.

The runner-up in this week’s Top 5 is Nevezis’ swingman Gintaras Leonavicius. The Lithuanian scored 18 points, tore down 7 rebounds and stole the ball 5 times in their easy victory against Barsy Atyrau. The forward tallied a total of 27 ranking points.

Janis Vahter snagged the third spot this week, having been the only bright spot in a otherwise black week for Parnu. The Estonian team took a beating against Siauliai, losing by 31 points, but Vahter stood out with a solid performance both offensively and defensively. The forward contributed 16 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals, which led him to 23 ranking points.

Rait Keerles, this week’s top scorer, ended up in the fourth position when it comes down to overall efficiency. He averaged 23 points, 5 rebounds and 22.5 ranking points, while Tarvas squeezed out a single victory out of their two games.

Vilmantas Dilys finishes up the list with 19 points and 9 rebounds. He amassed 22 ranking points in Nevezis’ win against their Kazakh opponents.

Pyrinto debut with a win


TAMPERE – In the first ever Baltic Basketball League (BBL) game in Finland, Pyrinto sliced through the visiting Tallinn Kalev and marked its debut in the league with a 75-54 victory on Sunday.

The team from Tampere was the last to begin the regular season, but the season-opener proved successful for the hosts, while the Estonians dropped to a 1-1 record following the defeat.

After an early tussle for the lead, Pyrinto jumped ahead by double digits already in the middle of the first period. The lead soon reached 15 points, when Topias Palmi nailed a jumper to make it 24-9 in the beginning of the second quarter.

Although Tallinn Kalev had managed cut the deficit to single digits before the half, the Finnish team restored it just in time for the break, leading 32-22 after 20 minutes of play.

Illimar Pilk was doing his best to keep the visitors in the game, but a couple of three-pointers by Kelvin Lewis gave Pyrinto a comfortable 14-point lead, which Tallinn Kalev could not overcome.

Lewis led the  winners with a game-high 21 points, after collecting all of his points from beyond the arc, as he made 7-of-13 three-pointers.

Topias Palmi had 16 points, while Antero Lehto finished with 12 points. Pyrinto’s big man Annti Nikkila scored only two points, but finished with 16 rebounds.

For the Estonians, Illimar Pilk had 14 points, while Kaido Saks and Reimo Tamm chipped in with 13 points each, adding eight and seven rebounds respectively.

Siauliai cruise past Liepaja/Triobet


LIEPAJA – Siauliai bagged their second Baltic Basketball League (BBL) victory and remain unbeaten after having defeated Liepaja/Triobet 87-67 in the Group B battle on Sunday evening. 

Although the Latvian team jumped ahead by seven points early on, Siauliai managed to close in on them and only held a single-point deficit at the end of the first quarter.

In the second, however, the view on the court changed drastically. Led by Derek Needham, who dropped in 10 points just in the second quarter, the Lithuanian side went on a scoring rampage.

An 18-4 run to close half allowed Siauliai to heap a 44-28 lead before the break. 

The Lithuanians came out focused in the third and continued building up the lead. The margin between the two teams reached 23 points after Judson Dillard’s layup.

Despite allowing their opponents to finish the quarter off on a high note, Siauliai held an insurmountable 67-49 lead before the final quarter.

Any attempt for a comeback by the home team was set down immediately. The visitors from Lithuania finished the game in cold blood and took the deserving 87-67 victory.

Derek Needham was the top scorer for Siauliai with 28 points, converting on all five shots from downtown.

Vytas Sulskis and Julius Jucikas ended the game with 10 points apiece, while Ovidijus Galdikas and Jessy Perry contributed 9 each.

The Latvian side had four players in double digits - Arnolds Helmanis and Artis Ate finished off with 14 points. Ingus Jakovics and Kristaps Miglinieks both added 11.

Kaufmanis saves Valmiera in Rakvere


RAKVERE – A magnificent clutch performance by Janis Kaufmanis brought Valmiera the first victory of the new Baltic Basketball League (BBL) season, as the Latvian side squeezed out a 94-90 victory against Tarvas on Saturday night.

The 24-year-old Latvian guard Kaufmanis finished the game with 34 points, while Valmiera caught up with the Rakvere side in Group A standings, as both teams have a 1-1 record.

Leading 22-17 after the first quarter, Tarvas had a slight advantage for the majority of the first half, but Valmiera went on a late run in the second period to take a 41-40 edge at the half.

After a scoring outburst in the third quarter, Valmiera increased the advantage to 75-61, but the game was far from over, as it took Tarvas only four minutes to get back in front.

Spurred on by the home crowd, the home side went on a 22-3 run in the fourth quarter and gained a 83-78 lead halfway through the final period.

The drama did not end here – late-game heroics from Janis Kaufmanis, who scored 11 points for his team in the decisive rally to bring Valmiera in front 91-90 with a minute left in the game.

With 23 seconds left Giedrius Gustas missed a two-pointer, but Raimonds Gabrans made only one of two free-throws, giving Tarvas another chance.

However, Kriisto Saage and Juris Umbrasko couldn’t find the target and Gabrans, who finished the game with 13 points and five assists, sealed the win, making both foul shots this time.

Kristaps Dargais and Ivars Zvigurs added 12 points each for the winners.

Rait Keerles collected 29 points for Tarvas, Giedrius Gustas scored 15, while Kristo Saage added eight points and 12 boards.

TonyBet edge Juventus at home


PRIENAI – TonyBet Prienai remained undefeated in the 2013-14 Baltic Basketball League (BBL) season as they triumphed 73-68 against Juventus in the Lithuanian derby of Group C on Saturday.

It was the second win for the Prienai side, while the visitors from Utena dropped to a 1-1 record.

Although it was a pretty close game, TonyBet had the lead for the entirety of the game. After a 9-0 run in the second quarter, the hosts broke away to a 30-20 lead, but Juventus struck back and cut the deficit to 34-32 at the half.

The story in the second half was very similar – the home side would pull away by a couple of points, but Juventus would immediately claw back, but didn’t have the extra gear to change the outcome of the game.

Dainius Salenga scored 19 points for TonyBet, Gintaras Kadziulis added 18 points and six assists, while Laimonas Kisielius dropped 13 points on his previous team.

Juventus forward Edgaras Stanionis had 19 points and eight rebounds, while the only other player in double digits was the team’s captain Gintautas Matulis with 12 points.

Easy cruising for Ventspils


VENTSPILS – Ventspils, the reigning champions of the Baltic Basketball League (BBL), eased past Lietkabelis 81-61 in a Group B game in Latvia on Saturday evening.

It was the first game of the season for Lietkabelis in the BBL, while Ventspils kept a clean record, improving to 2-0.

Last year’s Finals MVP, Janis Timma, was feeling it early on, as he scored nine points in the beginning of the first quarter to lead Ventspils to a 15-5 advantage midway through the first period.

However, it wasn’t the end of trouble for Lietkabelis, who allowed the Latvians to go on a 9-0 run soon after and conceded a 17-2 run, which increased the gap to 32-11.

Having gained a 20-point lead, Ventspils didn’t ever look back and sailed home safely with a confident victory in their account.

Ventspils veteran Sandis Valters was the top scorer of the game with 19 points, while Janis Timma added 18 points and six rebounds, with Davis Lejasmeiers chipping in with 16 points.

Chukwudinma Odiakosa had a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds, as Anthony Bennet added 16 points, but their efforts weren’t enough to save Lietkabelis from the defeat in the opening game of the season.

Fourth game proves lucky for Caspiy


RIGA – After losing the first three games of the season, Caspiy finally struck gold, taking an 89-81 victory against Barons on the road in Latvia on Saturday.

The team from Kazakhstan improved to a 1-3 record, while Barons, who had lost their opening game a couple of days ago, dropped to 0-2 in Group C.

Caspiy started the game better, taking a 28-22 lead after the first quarter. The advantage reached double digits in the second period, but the hosts bounced back and finished the half with a 40-38 edge.

However, just like in the opening quarter, the visitors started the second half better and it didn’t take long before the gap was increased to double digits once again, as Caspiy saw the game out comfortably in the fourth quarter.

Maxim Voyeikov had a game-high 24-points for the winners, Vadym Matyukevych scored 17 points and added 11 rebounds, while David Nesbitt collected 14 points and nine boards.

For Barons, Karlis Apsitis had 20 points, Roberts Mednis scored 19, while Andris Epners was the only other player in double digits with 10 points for his side. 

Pieno Zvaigzdes keep spotless record


TARTU – Pieno Zvaigzdes made it three in a row, after edging TU/Rock 68-66 on the road in Estonia in a clash between one of the Group C favorites on Saturday.

While the Lithuanians kept their spotless record and improved to 3-0, it was the first loss of the season for the Tartu club, who had won their season-opener previously.

The home team enjoyed a good first quarter, taking a 19-14 lead. Rock seemed to be cruising after Vincent Simpson hit a three-pointer to increase the gap to 30-22 in the second period.

However, Pieno Zvaigzdes, led by Egidijus Dimsa and Arturas Jomantas, finished the half on a 21-0 run, going to the locker rooms with a 43-30 advantage.

Having cut the deficit to 49-55 before the start of the final period, Rock got within a single points after Janar Talts hit a jumper with a couple of minutes on the clock.

With the score 66-68 and 19 seconds left in the game, the home side had a chance to win or tie the game, but Vincent Simpson’s long-range shot wasn’t accurate, while Timo Eichfuss couldn’t take advantage of an offensive rebound.

Lithuanian big man Egidijus Dimsa had 13 points and seven rebounds against his previous team, Evaldas Kairys collected 11 points, while Rolandas Alijevas added 10 points and 6 rebounds for Pieno Zvaigzdes.

For Rock, Augustas Peciukevicius scored 13 points against his countrymen, Timo Eichfuss had 12 points, while Vincent Simpson collected 10.

Nevezis too strong for Barsy


KEDAINIAI – After winning the Vikonda BBL Cup, Nevezis continued the impressive start of the season with an 87-62 victory against Barsy in Group B action on Saturday.

It was the opening game of Baltic Basketball League (BBL) season for the Lithuanians, while Barsy dropped to a 1-2 record following the loss.

The visitors from Kazakhstan started the game strong and ran away to a 21-11 lead in the beginning of the game, but Nevezis finished the first period with an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to two points.

A similar run at the end of the second quarter gave the hosts a 38-32 lead at the half, after Arvydas Siksnius nailed a jumper with the clock ticking down the last seconds.

Having started the second half with a 9-0 spurt, Nevezis took over the initiative of the game and controlled it until the very end of the game, taking an easy victory.

Vilmantas Dilys had 19 points and nine rebounds for the winners, Gintaras Leonavicius added 18 points and seven boards, while Arvydas Siksnius finished the game with 13 points.

For Barsy, Mikhail Yevstigneev collected a team-high 16 points, while Reinis Strupovics was the only other player in double digits with 11 points.

Jekabpils hold on against Dolphins


JEKABPILS – After a one-point loss in the first game, Jekabpils made sure not to let another victory slip out of their hands, as they held on 78-73 against Norrkoping Dolphins in a Group A game on Friday evening.

The visitors from Sweden got off to a storming start, going on an 11-0 run right out of the gates, with Dolphins forward William Walker responsible for seven of those points.

However, Jekabpils weren’t behind by much for long, as they answered with an 8-0 spurt of their own, before tying it all at 13-13 by the end of the first period.

Having built a 35-30 lead at the half, the home side kept playing with confidence in the third quarter and increased the gap to a game-high 16 points.

Although Jekabpils was up 57-43 before the start of the final period, Dolphins were not ready to give up just yet and raced back to make it a one-possession game with three minutes left on the clock.

With the visitors from Norrkoping down 73-75 and 45 seconds remaining, Jekabpils committed a turnover, but Kendrick Brown’s three-pointer was blocked, while Pierre Hampton could not convert on a second chance opportunity.

Rinalds Sirsnins went on to make three-of-four shots from the free-throw line to seal the victory, preventing Jekabpils from another slip-up.

Michal Hlebowicki had a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds for the winners, while Sirsnins finished the game with 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

Dolphins guard Kendrick Brown had a game-high 19 points, while Joakim Kjellbom, who also had 11 boards, and Edgars Jeromanovs scored 14 points each.