After two weeks of absence, the Baltic Basketball League (BBL) is back. So is the BBL weekly review, which will provide fans with the opportunity to quickly overlook all the main events and spectacular performances that took place in the league over the past week.
MVP. Joakim Kjellbom became the last monthly MVP of 2013, as the 34-year-old Swedish big man was chosen as the Most Valuable Player for the month of December. The center averaged 16.7 points, 10 rebounds and 3.3 blocks throughout the month and helped his team to three convincing victories.
UNBEATABLE. Pieno Zvaigzdes continue their successful run in the BBL, as they knocked down Tartu Rock to make it their eighth straight victory.
WINLESS. While Pasvalys keeps on racking up victories, Valga Maks&Moorits’ struggles continue. The Estonians lost seven games by an average margin of 24 points.
RECORD. Just days into 2014, a new season record for most turnovers was reached. In Tyco Rapla’s shameful loss against Jekabpils, the Estonians turned the ball over 29 times.
SCORER. Janis Kaufmanis dropped 30 points for the second time this season and is comfortably sitting atop the scoring charts with an average of 18 points per game. Despite his tremendous scoring outbursts, Kaufmanis stands only 32nd when it comes to efficiency.
OVERTIME. The first overtime of the year was registered in Estonia, where Tarvas upset Norrkoping Dolphins, pleasing the home crowd with a 84-80 victory.
COSTLY MISTAKE. With 29 seconds to play, Juventus still had a one-point lead and the possession of the ball. However, Aidas Viskontas turned the ball over and Prienai made sure to cash in.
On top of the weekly Top Five stands Juventus forward Saulius Kulvietis. In the loss against Tonybet Prienai the Lithuanian scored 22 points and tore down 8 rebounds, amassing 26 ranking points.
Troy Barnies of Jekabpils finishes the week in second place with two spectacular performances. The forward averaged a double-double in 21 points and 10.5 rebounds.
Laimonas Kisielius converted on five three-pointers to help Prienai to a fourth quarter comeback. Kisielius totaled 23 points and 25 ranking points.
Lietkabelis’ center Ryan Olander ends up fourth in the top five after a 25-point outburst against Barsy Atyrau. Despite his input, Lietkabelis suffered a heartbreaking loss, after Edgaras Zelionis’ game-winner.
The only guard in this list - Edgars Jeromanovs – closes up the five with a 19 point and 9 rebound performance against Tarvas.
TALLINN ‒ A day after defeating one of Group A front-runners Dolphins, Tarvas slumped to a 73-75 defeat in the hands of Tallinna Kalev, who improved to a 3-5 mark following the win.
The club from the Estonian capital came out of the gates red-hot, as they ran away to an early 11-2 advantage in the first five minutes of the game.
Although Tarvas responded with an 9-0 run to tie it all at 11-11, Tallinna Kalev shot ahead once again, finishing the period with a double-digit lead at 25-15.
However, things turned around dramatically in the second quarter, with the Rakvere club turning things around and ending the first half with a 43-37 edge after winning the period by 16 points.
In a game full of ups-and-downs, the third quarter saw Tallinn Kalev take the initiative once again, overtaking Tarvas for a 60-59 lead before the final period.
With 3:51 played in the final period, Kristo Saage nailed a three-pointer to send the side from Rakvere in front again, but it was the last time the visitors had the lead.
Reimo Tamm scored five points in a row against his former team and Ilimar Pilk added a basket as well to make it 73-67 with 2:21 left in the game.
Although Mihkel Kurg had cut Tarvas’ deficit to two points with 36 seconds remaining and Mario Paiste missed both free-throws, Kristo Saage’s long-range shot missed, giving Tallinna Kalev an important win.
Asenso Ampim had a team-high 20 points and 11 rebounds for the winners, Reimo Tamm collected 18 points and drew eight fouls, while Raido Ross added 13 points.
For Tarvas, Kristo Saage finished the evening with 21 points, Giedrius Gustas scored 14 points, with no other players reaching double digits on the visitors’ roster.
JEKABPILS ‒ Valmiera improved to a 4-3 record in Group A after a 79-73 road victory against Jekabpils, who dropped to 4-4, on Sunday.
Valmiera got off to a storming start, taking a double-digit lead already halfway through the first quarter (14-4) and finishing it with a 22-10 advantage.
Having kept the 12-point margin in the second quarter, the visitors began to struggle after the halftime break, with Jekabpils eating into the double with a 10-0 run late in the third period to get within 49-50.
Despite losing the double-digit advantage, Valmiera managed to stay in front, but the Troy Barnies-led Jekabpils stayed close, trailing only 60-61 with five minutes left in the game.
With just over a minute on the clock, the hosts were down only by two points, but a three-pointer by Janis Kaufmanis increased the gap to 73-68, giving the visitors the final push towards the victory.
Janis Kaufmanis paced Valmiera with 30 points, Viktors Iljins scored 11 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, while Raimonds Gabrans scored 10 points.
Troy Barnies had a team-high 23 points and added nine rebounds for Jekabpils, Cameron Runders had 12 points, while Pavels Veselovs chipped in with 11 points.
LIEPAJA ‒ Liepaja/Triobet got the second win of the season, as they defeated Parnu 70-64 in a Group B outsider clash in Latvia on Sunday evening.
The home side got a much needed boost in the standings, rising to fifth place with a 2-5 record, while Parnu dropped to 1-6.
Liepaja led from start to finish, taking a 19-12 lead in the first quarter and never letting go, although Parnu stayed relatively close.
The gap reached double digits in the second quarter after Roberts Freimanis converted on a lay-up to make it 32-22 and the hosts went on to carry over the 10-point lead into the second half.
Liepaja’s lead had grown to 15 points (55-40) in the third period, but Parnu cut it to single single digits in the fourth quarter, but Mareks Jurevicus and Renars Magone stopped their run at 67-62, as the hosts came out victorious.
Jurevicus had a game-high 17 points for the winners, also adding eight rebounds and five assists, Kristaps Miglinieks collected 15 points, while Roberts Freimanis finished the game with 11 points and nine boards.
Nemanja Miljkovic led Parnu in scoring with 13 points, with Heiko Rannula and Rannar Raap adding 11 points apiece.
PANEVEZYS ‒ Gytis Sirutavicius and Edgaras Zelionis scored two clutch baskets for Barsy, as the Kazakh side snatched an 82-81 victory in Panevezys against the struggling Lietkabelis.
The visitors from Atyrau are now 4-6 in Group B, while the Lithuanians have won only once in eight games, but still have hopes of reaching the quarterfinals.
Lietkabelis started the game strong, going on a 6-0 run right from the tip-off and keeping the lead for the majority of the first quarter, but Barsy weren’t too far behind.
Having scored six points in a row in the beginning of the second quarter, the Kazakhs took a 37-32 advantage, increasing it to 46-36 after a pair of buckets by Dmitriy Gavrilov.
However, Lietkabelis snuck ahead by a single point just before halftime with an 11-0 run, heading into the locker rooms with a 47-46 advantage.
Behind great play from big man Ryan Olander, the hosts led by as many as seven points in the third quarter, but Barsy raced back from behind to tie it at 66-66 after 30 minutes of play.
The visitors had the upper hand for most of the third quarter, but Lietkabelis’ newcomer Goran Vrbanc drained a three-pointer and Mantas Virbalas added two more points for an 81-77 advantage with 1:26 left to play.
However, it was Barsy, who had the last word in the game ‒ Gytis Sirutavicius made it a one-point game with a triple in the next possession, while Edgaras Zelionis made the game-winning basket with 16 seconds left.
Sirutavicius had a game-high 25 points for the winners, Zelionis scored 16 points and grabbed eight boards, while Donte Hill added 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
For Lietkabelis, Ryan Olander had 25 points, but grabbed only two rebounds in 33 minutes, while talented guard Jokubas Gintvainis flirted with a double-double finishing the game with 13 points and seven assists.
KEDAINIAI ‒ In a battle of Group B leaders, Nevezis registered an impressive 75-57 victory against the visiting Ventspils to improve to an 8-1 record.
The Latvian side, now 6-2, had won the first meeting between the teams 68-60 and will have a negative point differential in case of a head-to-head situation.
Nevezis got off to a better start, taking a 12-4 lead following a bucket by Aurimas Adomaitis four minutes into the first quarter, but a 7-0 run by Ventspils quickly closed the gap.
Although the visitors from Latvia had shortly taken the upper hand in the second period, the hosts responded with a 15-3 stretch to jump into a double-digit advantage at 34-23.
Nevezis continued the strong play in the second half, extending the lead to a 21-point margin after a 9-0 spurt, with six points coming from Aurimas Adomaitis.
Having built a convincing 61-40 lead before the final period, the home side finished the game off with a solid fourth quarter, earning an important win against one of the main rivals in the group.
BBL leading scorer Arvydas Siksnius paced Nevezis with 16 points, also adding five assists, Aurimas Adomaitis added 14 points, while Valdas Dabkus finished the game with 11.
For Ventspils, point guard Lorenzo Williams was the only player in double digits with 12 points, Davis Lejasmeiers scored nine, as Toms Leimanis added seven.
UTENA ‒ TonyBet Prienai raced back from a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter to register an 83-82 victory against Juventus after Arturas Valeika made a game-winning basket with five seconds on the clock.
Following the victory, last year’s runners-up improved to 7-2 in Group C standings, while Juventus’ struggles continued, as their losing streak reached five games.
Juventus had the lead for the majority of the first half, but Prienai jumped in front 39-37 with a three-pointer by Mindaugas Lukauskis to close the second quarter.
However, the hosts took back the initiative into their hands in the second half, gaining a 59-50 edge after a 10-2 run in the third quarter.
With around five minutes left in the game, Juventus still had a 78-67 advantage, but Laimonas Kisielius dropped in a couple of three-pointers to spark an 8-0 run to bring Prienai back in the game.
With 1:16 left to play, Gintaras Kadziulis cut the gap to three points and then made it a one-point game in the next possession.
Juventus still had an 82-81 advantage and the possession of the ball with 29 seconds to play, but Aidas Viskontas turned the ball over. Prienai made sure to cash in, with Arturas Valeika making the game-winning basket with almost no time to spare.
Laimonas Kisielius had a game-high 23 points on 5-of-8 shooting from downtown, Gintaras Kadziulis scored 18 points, while Arturas Valeika chipped in with 14 points and eight rebounds for the winners.
For Juventus, Saulius Kulvietis had an excellent game, finishing the evening with 22 points and eight boards, Nikita Barinov collected 14 points, as Aidas Viskontas had 13 points.
PASVALYS ‒ Pieno Zvaigzdes remained the only unbeaten team in the BBL after halting TU/Rock’s 15-game winning streak with a 83-64 victory at home in Lithuania on Sunday evening.
The Pasvalys side is on top of Group C with a clean 8-0 record, while the Estonians are fourth, with four wins and four losses.
Playing without key big men Janar Talts and Joosep Toome, the visitors from Tartu managed to stay close for the first five minutes of the game, before Pieno Zvaigzdes broke away.
Egidijus Dimsa and Dovydas Redikas combined for nine points in a 12-0 run, which put the hosts ahead 24-9 already in the first quarter.
The margin had reached 23 points in the second period after a three-pointer by Ingus Bankevics, but Rock finished the half with seven points in a row to cut it to 33-49.
The guests carried over the momentum to the third quarter as well, scoring the first five points of the second half, shrinking the deficit to 11 points, but the charge was soon stopped.
Having started the final period with a 14-point advantage, Pieno Zvaigzdes kept up the confident play until the end of the game, as they cruised to a convincing win.
Egidijus Dimsa was the key player for the winners, collecting 19 points and eight rebounds against his former team, while Arturas Jomantas and Dovydas Redikas added 15 and 14 points respectively.
For Rock, Vincent Simpson had a team-high 17 points, while the Lithuanian duo of Augustas Peciukevicius and Vilmantas Dilys scored 11 points apiece.
JEKABPILS ‒ Jekabpils claimed an easy victory against the visiting Tyco Rapla, defeating the guests from Estonia 89-47 in Group A action on Friday night.
The Latvians improved to a 4-3 record, while Rapla’s losing streak was extended to four games, as they dropped to 1-7.
Jekabpils got ahead early, taking an eight-point lead after the first 10 minutes of play, before extending the advantage to 47-20 by the halftime break, with Rapla’s turnover tally at 20 after two quarters.
Although the Estonian side managed to solve the ball-handling issues in the second half, the gap was too big to even think about going back home with a win, as Jekabpils cruised to victory.
Troy Barnies paced the winners with 19 points and 12 rebounds, with Martins Kravcenko and Cameron Runders adding 16 points each for the Latvian team.
No players reached double figures for Rapla, with Slovenian big man Ziga Fifolt collected a team-high 9 points.
RAKVERE ‒ Dolphins came across an unexpected challenge in Rakvere, as Tarvas registered an 84-80 upset at home in Rakvere on Friday evening.
The Estonian club improved to 3-4 in Group A, while Dolphins suffered their third defeat to go along with six wins.
Dolphins began the fourth period with a 59-48 lead, but Tarvas made it a one-possession game within a couple of minutes, with a pair of three-pointers sparking a 9-0 run.
The visitors were up 65-63 after a lay-up by Edgars Jeromanovs with four minutes left in the game, but Tarvas responded with four points in a row to take a 67-65 edge.
After both sides exchanged unsuccessful attempts, Dolphins had 14 seconds for the last possession, with the last shot trusted to Kendrick Brown.
Although it fell short, veteran big man Joakim Kjellbom was there to collect the offensive rebound and made the second-chance opportunity count, forcing the game into overtime.
Tarvas got off to the worst possible start of the extra period, with Edgars Jeromanovs executing a four-point play after being fouled on the three-point shot.
However, it didn’t rattle the Estonians, who gained a 78-75 edge after a pair of three-pointers by Kristo Saage and Juris Umbrasko.
Saage went on to increase the lead to 83-76 from the free-throw stripe after Adnan Chuck’s foul was deemed unsportsmanlike, while Edgars Jermonovs earned a technical foul on top of that to decide the outcome of the game.
Giedrius Gustas and Juris Umbrasko led the winners with 19 points each, as Rait Keerles added a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds.
For the losing side, Edgars Jeromanovs had 19 points and nine boards, with Adnan Chuck and Joakim Kjellbom collecting 15 points apiece.