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.

Pieno Zvaigzdes lock down Valga


VALGA – Points were hard to come by in Valga on Friday evening, as the hosts Maks&Moorits slumped to a 68-36 defeat to the visiting Pieno Zvaigzdes in a Group C encounter.

It was the first game of the new Baltic Basketball League (BBL) season for the Estonians, while Pieno Zvaigzdes improved to a 2-0 record.

The beginning of the game did not seem to promise anything bad for the Valga side, as they trailed 6-4 after the first five minutes of play.

However, unlike the home side, the visitors from Lithuania did manage to pick up the pace and got some point the board, breaking away to a 28-14 lead at the half.

The story in the second part of the game remained the same – after scoring 7 points each in the first two quarters, Maks&Moorits combined for 22 in the third and fourth periods.

On the other side, Pieno Zvaigzdes kept swiftly increasing their lead, before a 27-point outburst in the final quarter, finishing the game with a 32-point victory margin.

Ingus Bankevics and Darrick Leonard finished the game with 11 points each, while Paulius Sorokas added 10 points for the Lithuanian team.

No players reached double digits for Valga, with Sasha Avalic leading the way with nine points, as Latvian big man Raitis Grafs added six.

Dolphins return to BBL in style


VALMIERA – Norrkoping Dolphins marked their return to the Baltic Basketball League (BBL) with an 82-58 victory against Group A rivals Valmiera on the road in Latvia.

The Swedish team started the game strong, breaking away to an early 14-3 lead, behind an early scoring outburst by William Walker, who scored nine points in the first three minutes of the opening period.

Although Valmiera had got as close as 19-20, Dolphins went on another run and finished the quarter ahead 27-19, maintaining a double-digit lead in the second period.

The second half followed a similar pattern as the Norrkoping team’s advantage grew to 66-48 with a strong third quarter, which the visitors won 24-15.

William Walker finished the game with 18 points for Dolphins, while Jan Tomanec and Joakim Kjellbom chipped in with 13 points each, with the latter also adding seven rebounds.

Janis Kaufmanis and Raimonds Gabrans had 10 points apiece for Valmiera, while the only other in double digits was Maris Ziedins with 10 points.

Barsy start slow, finish strong


LIEPAJA – Barsy opened their victory tally in the 2013-14 Baltic Basketball League (BBL) campaign after winning the Group B duel against Liepaja/Triobet 87-71 on the road in Latvia on Thursday.

Although the beginning of the game wasn’t very promising for the visitors from Kazakhstan, with the Liepaja team up 16-9 midway through the first period, Barsy used a strong second quarter to finish the half with a 45-40 lead.

Donte Hill and Reinis Strupovics made a three-pointer each in the beginning of the third period, as Barsy went on to win a 12-0 stretch and jump ahead 57-40 in the middle of the quarter, cruising to take an easy victory in the fourth.

Strupovics had a game-high 20 points, Edgaras Zelionis added 17 points, while Dmitry Gavrilov collected 14 points and five rebounds for Barsy.

For the losing side, Ingus Jakovics finished the game with 16 points, Artis Ate had 11, as Lauris Blaus scored 10.