LIEPAJA - A battle of two winless teams made sure somebody rose from the bottom of the table, and Betsafe/Liepaja made sure they used the chance. The Latvians took a 75-65 victory against visiting Tsmoki-Minsk.
While the start of the game wasn't high-scoring, the Latvians seemed eager to put an end to their losing streak from the early stages, as they ran ahead by nine points in the first quarter. Leading 16-7, it was apparent their defense was excelling.
However, it wasn't as one-sided of a game, as the hosts would have hoped. Tsmoki-Minsk were quick to cut the deficit in half and were breathing right down their opponents' backs just a couple minutes later. The two teams entered the halftime break with 5 points between them.
Liepaja shot ahead quickly, as an 8-2 start of the half put them up by double-digits. The lead just grew and before the final quarter, it was already a 15-point margin on the table.
Tsmoki had several attempts of a run, but were instantly blocked, as Betsafe/Liepaja ended up winning by a safe 10 points.
Toms Leimanis was the leading scorer for the winners, as he put up 20 points, 5 assists and 4 steals. Kyle Benjamin added 14 points to the tally, while Karlis Lasmanis ended up with 13.
Yauheni Beliankou was once again a leading player for Tsmoki, as he put up 18 points and 7 rebounds. Andrei Stabrouski was also scoring, as he posted 12 points, despite attempting a whopping 14 shots.
PARNU - It was Siauliai's second victory in two days, as they completed their Estonian roadtrip with an 87-61 win against Port of Parnu.
Siauliai had the upper hand from the early stages of the game, landing a ten-point margin just four minutes in. The margin dipped to 8 before the quarter ended, but the Lithuanians were still very much in control.
The margin hovered around 10 points for the lion's share of the second quarter, but it was clear that Siauliai were the better side.
The breaking point of the game was the latter part of the third quarter, when a 6-point margin for Siauliai turned into a 17-point spread. Parnu were unable to recover, and it ended up being a big, 87-61 win for the visitors.
Akeem Wright was the go-to guy for Siauliai, as he ended the night with 17 points. Laurynas Birutis added 15 points and 7 rebounds, while Evaldas Saulys ended up with 14 points. Arminas Urbutis and Donatas Sabeckis finished the game with a dozen points in their respective accounts.
Siim Markus Post was the top-scorer with 17 points, while Timo Eichfuss added 11 points to the tally. Sten Saaremael ended the game with 10 points.
VALMIERA - A record-breaking performance from his team allowed Gediminas Petrauskas' first game in charge of Pieno zvaigzdes to be a complete success, as the Lithuanians defeated Valmiera/ORDO 114-54. This was the biggest winning margin of the season.
It was quite obvious early on that the game would spiral out of control and turn into a blow-out, as the visitors set themselves up with a 15-point advantage just ten minutes into the game.
Starting the second quarter with an 11-0 run allowed Pieno zvaigzdes to establish an insurmountable lead not even near the halfway mark. They ended up leading by a 27-point advantage, more than doubling their opponents' scoring numbers.
The second half was nothing more than a formality, but the visiting side never seemed to take their foot off the pedal and dominated all the way through until the very end, snatching a record 60-point win.
Tomas Lekunas and Ignas Fiodorovas led Pieno zvaigzdes with 21 points each, while Lekunas also added 10 rebounds to the total. Sarunas Valunta added 12 points in just 13 minutes, knocking down 4-of-5 three-pointers. Veteran Steponas Babrauskas and Vyacheslav Bobrov added 10 points apiece, while the trio of Martynas Varnas, Arturs Ausejs and Julius Kazakauskas all finished with 9 points.
For Valmiera/ORDO, it was Eduards Hazners with a team-high 15-point performace, while Ojars Berzins added 11 points.
JURMALA - The hosting city of Jurmala had another reason to celebrate, as their basketball club reached their fifth consecutive victory, defeating Tsmoki-Minsk 70-56 after a terrific fourth quarter.
The visitors had the upper hand in the first quarter, actually leading for the greater part of the opening segment. They opened up the quarter with a 10-2 run and were up by six after ten minutes of play.
Tsmoki retained composure and kept their noses ahead for the remainder of the half and held a 34-26 lead at the break.
Another ten minutes in, the Belorussians seemed to have paved the way to their first victory and a nine point advantage with just a quarter to go did reassure them. However, things began to quickly turn around, as Jurmala started the quarter off with a 12-0 run, that finally put them in the driver's seat. They closed the quarter strong, and with a 32-9 period, won by a safe margin.
Harlds Karlis was the top scorer for Jurmala with 13 points, while Ivars Zvigurs and Edgars Jeromanovs added another 11 points each.
Yauheni Beliankou was the only stand-out player for Tsmoki, as he added 22 points to his team's tally.
RAPLA - A packed arena of Rapla fans had the chance to witness a great match-up between their home town AVIS Utilitas Rapla and visiting Siauliai, as the guest managed to come out on top 73-83.
The Sadolin Sports Hall was packed more than usual, as the home side Rapla handed out free tickets to first to third grade students, so they could surprise their parents for Father's day. An act of kindness that is sure to win over some young hearts of basketball fans and motivate the players all at once.
However, despite the support of nearly 700 fans, Rapla didn't manage to earn a lead in this game, as the visiting Siauliai led end to end after starting the game with an 8-0 run.
However, the game never lost it's excitement, as AVIS Utilitas Rapla kept on breathing down the Lithuanians' backs. They were down by four after the first quarter, and while the margin doubled before the end of the first half, the deficit never got out of hand.
At the start of the final quarter, the Estonians had managed to cut the deficit back to just 4 points, but a final spurt put Siauliai in a safe spot.
Laurynas Birutis was by far the top player in the game, as the 20-year-old dominated inside the paint and tallied 22 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks for a total of 32 ranking points. Omar Prewitt and Evaldas Saulys chipped in with 15 apiece, while Donatas Sabeckis finished the game with 11 points and 8 assists. Vytautas Sarakauskas filled up the stat-sheet with 10 points and 8 rebounds in under 20 minutes.
Sven Kaldre had a team-high 16 points, as Jaren Sina added 15. Indrek Kajupank was also in double-digits, as he ended the game with 11 points, while Nolan Cressler had a solid all-around performance, accounting for 10 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists.
TALLINN - It was a great victory for visiting Ogre, as they defeated home team Tallinna Kalev/TLU 99-76, marking their third win in five games.
While the start of the match allowed us to dream about more excitement in the game, Ogre ran off right before the first quarter ended. They put up a big run in the final two minutes of the game and enjoyed a double-digit lead already in the first quarter.
The margin grew rapidly, reaching 21 points at the break. After it, Ogre seemed to have taken off their foot from the gas pedal. They coasted to the finish line, fully in control and with over 20 points separating them from their opponents.
Guntis Sipolins had a game-high 28 points for Ogre, as the duo of Gints Antrops and Rinalds Sirsnins added 19 points apiece, while Rihads Zebergs chipped in with a dozen. Lauris Mizis ended the game with 11 points.
For the losing side, Bamba Fall had another incredible game, marking it with an efficiency rating of 30 points. He had 18 points and 11 rebounds on perfect shooting. Kiur Akenparg added 16 points, while Bambale Osby ended up with 13.
We have just finished the first full month of the 2017-2018 season, so let’s take a moment to recap everything that’s taken place so far in and around the Baltic Basketball League with the BBL Monthly Review: November edition.
MVP. Steven Cook claimed the first individual award, as he led Tartu to a record of 4-1 with outstanding all-around play. Not only is he the league’s top scorer, but he’s also among the top rebounding players and in the top three when it comes to three-point shooting. The swingman averaged 20.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals, while his team sits amongst the leaders of Group B.
INTERNATIONAL BREAK. The national teams of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia all took part in the European qualifiers, with the latter two splitting the bill with 1 win and 1 loss, while the Lithuanians had a great break, bringing in two big wins.
Estonia had the largest delegation of BBL players, with Kristjan Kitsing and Janar Talts of Tartu, TTU’s Sten Olmre and AVIS Utilitas’ Indrek Kajupank all making performances. Of these four, Kristjan Kitsing was the most impactful, making his way to a 13.5 point average.
For the Latvian selection, Pieno Zvaigzdes’ Arturs Ausejs was the only BBL player to step foot on the court, but did not leave a greater mark.
RECORD. Viktors Iljins would have been a shoe-in candidate for the monthly MVP trophy if it wasn’t his team’s struggles as a group. However, he did put up an impressive individual performance in Valmiera/ORDO’s only win, setting the season record for most rebounds, while also scoring in bunches. The big man finished the game with an astonishing double-double of 19 points and 20 rebounds, as the Latvian side defeated Tallinna Kalev/TLU.
UNDEFEATED. A month in, there’s only one team in each group that hasn’t suffered a loss. In Group A, surprisingly, it is Jurmala, who have been shockingly good on both the national and international levels, sitting amongst the leaders in the Latvian league and enjoying a 4-0 record in BBL. In Group B, it’s Pieno zvaigzdes with the highest winning record, also at 4-0.
HOTSEAT. Apparently, a 4-0 record in BBL and a decent performance in the Lithuanian league didn't guarantee a coaching position for Pieno zvaigzdes’ Rimantas Grigas. He was recently sacked, as former Juventus’ coach Gediminas Petrauskas recently took the reigns.
TECHNICALS AND EJECTIONS. Probably the most hot-headed person in current-day Baltic basketball, Virginijus Seskus made his presence known in his team’s technical loss against AVIS Utilitas Rapla. Seskus received his second technical foul with the scored tied and just a couple minutes left in the game and withdrew his team with him.
WINLESS. Speaking of the teams that have yet to climb out of their losing slumps, Tsmoki-Minsk and Betsafe Liepaja come to mind. These two clubs have suffered 4 losses each with no wins and share the last spot in Group A.
It’s already December, so it’s right about time to announce the best player in the month of November. The first trophy goes out to University of Tartu guard Steven Cook, who led his team to one of the top positions in Group B with a record of 4-1.
As the season started late in October, we did take those games into consideration as well.
The American has been in scintillating form and leads the league in scoring, is among the top five in rebounds and has also shown tremendous efficiency, ranking second in the league. Throughout the initial four games of the season, he averaged 20.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals. If these numbers were not impressive enough on it's own, Cook has been lighting it up from beyond the arc, making three-pointers at an impressive 53.3 percent clip.
The first game of the season against Ogre was his best so far, as the swingman went on to put up an outstanding double-double with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 4 dimes under his belt. He followed that performance up with 16-point and 17-point performances, while his last game was against Kalev/TLU, where he picked up another double-double: 22 points and 10 rebounds.
The Player of the Month trophy will be awarded in Tartu’s next home game, on the 18th of December.
TALLINN - Visiting Tartu University dominated after halftime and dealt with TTU with no major trouble, claiming a 70-88 victory on the road.
For two quarters it was a nip-and-tuck affair, as the two sides raced back and forth, with TTU leading after the first 10 minutes by five points. Tartu managed to regain momentum quickly and were already up by three before the intermission.
It was flat-out dominance in the second half, as Tartu University raced to a 15-point advantage to enter the final period, where they did their due diligence and closed the game strong.
Vytenis Cizauskas had the highest-scoring in the game, putting up 19 points, as Kristjan Kitsing helped out with another 10 points to the tally. Tanel Sokk chipped in with 12, while Janar Talts had a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds. Hendrik Eelmae finished the game with 11 points.
Toomas Raadik was TTU's leading scorer, as he ended the game with 15 points. Oliver Metsalu added 11 to the tally, while Martin Giese was also in double-digits with 10 points to his name.
VALMIERA - It took quite some time, but Valmiera/ORDO finally managed to land themselves their first victory. In what turned out to be a high-scoring affair, the Latvians secured a 94-82 win against Kalev/TLU.
The game started off well for the hosts, as they jump ahead to an early 13-6 advantage. While the margin was quickly cut to just one, the Latvians managed to regain the 7-point advantage in no time.
Valmiera/ORDO continued expanding their advantage and before halftime already had a double-digit advantage.
TLU had no major coup attempts, as they trailed by a margin of around 10 points throughout the next quarter. The closest they got to their opponents was 6 points at the end of the game, but any attempt of a comeback was quietly rebuffed.
It was certainly a memorable night for Viktors Iljins, who dominated the boards and tallied a monstrous double-double - 19 points and 20 rebounds. Janis Kaufmanis was the only player to exceed his scoring, as the guard dropped 21. Eduards Hazners was also great with 19 points, while Edmunds Elksnis ended up with 17 points and 9 rebounds.
Reimo Tamm finished the game with 20 points for the Estonians, while Dorde Dzeletovic added 17. Bamba Fall once again put up impressive numbers, securing a double-double of 13 points and 16 rebounds. Kristo Saage ended up scoring 11 points and dishing out 8 assists.