VENTSPILS – Janis Timma has been one of the premiere Baltic prospects for the last couple of years and the 21-year-old BK Ventspils forward proved just that by snatching MVP honors for the month of November in the Baltic Basketball League.
The Latvian player, who was awarded the Finals MVP trophy award last year, averaged 17.5 points, 11 rebounds and 3.5 steals on 62% shooting from the field, including 6-of-12 three-pointers.
BBL.net sat down with Timma to talk about the ongoing season, his NBA experience and the dream of playing of the Latvian national team, which unfortunately remained unfulfilled.
First of all, congratulations on the award. You were named the Finals MVP last year, now ‒ MVP of the month. Where do you keep these awards and do you have any more space left for new ones?
First if all, thank you all for the greetings. All my greatest titles are kept in my mother’s home and I think there is still enough place for them. Speaking about the amount of titles, there can never be too many and it’s a great feeling to receive them.
The month of November was quite significantly better for you personally, comparing to October. What do you think was the reason behind the improvement?
It’s hard to say why this month was better. I am going to every game as usual, because we know that it will not be easy. Our team is young and we have a lot of up and downs in our performances.
The team has new foreigners, some new local players, but at the same time plenty of players and coach Stelmahers stayed in the club. In your opinion, how are the teams similar or different?
Compared with the last season and now, it is very difficult at the moment, because we have a lot of injured players, who can’t help the team right now. We still have not found an extra big guy under the basket. So I find it hard to compare the teams in this situation.
As the reigning BBL champions, would it be fair to say that anything less than repeating the success would be a disappointment? What do you think are the chances of defending the title?
An unequivocal yes – our main objective is to defend the championship title. It will not be easy until the team isn’t 100 percent ready, but we have already proved that we can play and we can do it well.
There must be some good and bad memories from the summer ‒ you got selected by the Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA Draft, but didn’t travel to EuroBasket 2013 with the Latvian national team.
This summer – it was something I have never had and would like to wish that feeling to every basketball player, because the feelings you get make you even more motivated and show that you can achieve much with hard work and faith.
Speaking of the national team, of course I’m sorry that I could not help the team with my illness, but I feel that my time has come and I have not lost anything and only got better at practice during the part of the summer I was with the team.
Can you tell us how happy you were to hear your name in the NBA Draft and what was the best NBA experience so far ‒ the draft itself, the Summer League, working out in Memphis?
Of course that was a huge experience, practicing at such a level as the Memphis Grizzlies. Big thanks to all of the coaches and their assistants for their work.
Do you follow the Memphis Grizzlies results in the NBA, do you maybe watch some of their games?
Yes, this season I am following the Memphis Grizzlies more than before and of course I am keeping track of a lot of the guys I know personally.
Is EuroBasket 2015 in Ukraine the big goal for you right now in terms of the Latvian national team?
As I mentioned earlier on, the illness was quite the predicament for me, but I just could not get healthy quickly enough to help the team. Speaking of Eurobasket 2015 in Ukraine, of course it is my goal, which I think I will achieve. There is still time to become a better player and prepare for this tournament as well as possible.
What are your goals in the near future, this season with Ventspils and what do you think about the next step in your career, your longer-term ambitions?
About the next steps in my career, just a few words – practice and practice to become a better and more stable player. Then, top basketball will not go anywhere from me.
NORRKOPING ‒ Pyrinto were handed the first defeat in the BBL, as the Finnish side suffered a 70-53 defeat on the road in Sweden against Norrkoping Dolphins.
After six wins in a row, it was the first loss for Pyrinto, while Dolphins improved to a 3-2.
The visitors from Tampere had an 11-10 lead four minutes into the game, but it was their last time ahead, as Dolphins went on a 9-0 run and finished the first quarter ahead by six points.
After a pair of three-pointers by William Walker and Joakim Kjellbom halfway through the second period, the home side’s lead grew to 35-20, with Pyrinto unusually struggling on offense.
Although the Finnish side had cut the deficit to 28-35 with an 8-0 stretch to end the second quarter, Dolphins kept their cool and managed to keep a safe distance in the third period, before pulling away for good in the fourth.
Joakim Kjellbom had a game-high 18 points and 15 rebounds for the Swedes, William Walker added a double-double of 16 points and 11 boards, with Edgars Jeromanovs chipping in with 15 points.
Benjamin Raymond was the top-scorer for Pyrinto with 16 points and eight boards, Kelvin Lewis scored 12 points, while Damon Williams had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
KEDAINIAI ‒ Nevezis improved to a 5-1 record in Group B, as one of the group front-runners came back from behind to take a 62-56 win against Lietkabelis.
The club is now in a three-way tie at the top of the group, while the visitors have won only one time in seven games.
The hosts started the game with an 8-0 run, but Lietkabelis responded with 16-0 spurt of their own to jump in front 16-8 after a three-pointer by Jokubas Gintvainis.
Nevezis continued having problems on the offensive end in the second period, as the visitors from Panevezys finished the first half with a 32-24 advantage.
Led by Arvydas Siksnius and Gintaras Leonavicius, who scored eight points apiece in the third quarter, the Kedainiai club got back in front and entered the final period already leading 44-39.
Nevezis had increased the advantage to double-digits, but Lietkabelis came back and tied the game at 54-54 with three minutes remaining.
However, Arvydas Siksnius came up big once again, hitting a three-point shot, Rolandas Jakstas made two free-throws on the next possession to make it a five-point game, as Nevezis held on to take the win.
Siksnius paced the winners with 19 points, Jakstas scored 12 points, while Vidas Ginevicius finished the game with 10.
For Lietkabelis, Dinma Odiakosa had a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds, while the only other player in double-digits was Vaidas Kariniauskas, who added 10 points but turned the ball over six times.
Janis Timma added another individual award to his name, as the Ventspils forward snatched the Most Valuable Player honors for the month of November.
The 21-year-old player led the defending BBL champions to two victories last month, but sat out the last game against Parnu.
Over the two games, Timma averaged 17.5 points, 11 rebounds and 3.5 steals and was shooting 62% from the field, including 6-of-12 three-pointers.
His best performance came on November 2nd against the previously undefeated Nevezis Kedainiai, when last year’s BBL Finals MVP made five triples to finish with 17 points and added 13 rebounds.
The award will be presented to Timma on December 13th in Ventspils before the game between against Barsy.
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.
RIGA – Barons improved to a 3-3 record, after taking an easy 86-71 victory against Juventus in Group C action on Saturday.
The Latvian is tied for third place in the group standings with TU/Rock, who also have three wins, while Juventus dropped to 2-4.
A minute of silence was observed before the tip-off to honor the victims of the tragic events in Riga.
After a close first quarter, Barons had a 15-13 lead after the first quarter, but the breakthrough came in the second period, when the hosts pulled away to a 38-21 halftime advantage.
Juventus weren’t able to cut into the deficit in the third quarter, with Barons maintaining the 17-point advantage after 30 minutes of play.
After a pair of free-throws by Edgaras Stanionis, the visitors got within 56-64, but it was as closed as Juventus would make the game, with the hosts sealing the win with solid play.
Ilmars Bermanis had a team-high 19 points and dished out six assists for Barons, Agnis Cavars scored 16 points, while Roberts Mednis collected 15.
For Juventus, Averon Matthews was the top-scorer with 20 points and 13 rebounds, Edgaras Stanionis collected 17 points, with Keyron Sheard chipping in with 16.
VALGA – TonyBet bounced back after an overtime loss in Tartu, with an 80-53 victory against Valga Maks&Moorits on Saturday.
Following the win, Prienai are in a clear second place in Group C with a 5-2 record, with the team from Valga dropping to 0-5.
Maks&Moorits had a solid start of the game and took a 16-9 lead after a pair of three-pointers Jonathan Dupre and Sasha Avalic.
Although the home team finished the first quarter with an 18-17 lead, it did not last long. Gintaras Kadziulis instigated a 15-0 run, after which the visitors took a 32-18 advantage.
Edi Sinanovic had trimmed the gap to six points after a quick 8-0 spurt by Valga, but Prienai had a response and restored a double-digit advantage before the final period, in which they sealed the deal.
Prienai’s captain Gintaras Kadziulis had a game-high 22 points, while Mindaugas Lukauskis collected 21 points. Laimonas Kisielius added 12 points and seven rebounds.
For the hosts, Jurijs Aleksejevs was the top-scorer with 14 points, with Edi Sinanovic scoring 13 points.
RAPLA – Pyrinto’s dream start of the season continued, as the Finnish side extended their winning streak to six games, defeating Tyco Rapla 81-65.
The team from Tampere still hasn’t lost a single game, while Rapla, now 1-4, are quickly falling behind in Group A.
Like usually, Pyrinto started the game strong and went on a 10-0 run after allowing the host’s leader Martin Dorbek to open the scoring with a couple of free-throws.
The visitors had a 19-10 lead after the first quarter and extended the gap to double-digits by the halftime break, with a triple by Antero Lehto and a free-throw by Osku Heinonen to make it 37-26.
However, Rapla won a 9-0 stretch in the third quarter to cut the deficit to a single point, with the scoreboard showing 47-48 after H Ruut’s lay-up.
Pyrinto started the final period with a 57-55 lead, but Andre Parn quickly tied things up at 57-57. At this point, the guests went on a 20-0 run to decide the outcome of the game.
Kelvin Lewis and Benjamin Raymond had 16 points each for the winners, with Damon Williams and Petri Heinonen collecting 13 points apiece.
For Rapla, Martin Paasoja had a team-high 16 points, Ziga Fifolt scored 11 points and Andre Parn added 10 points and six rebounds.
RAKVERE – Pyrinto put on an impressive offensive display, tearing apart Tarvas 117-81 to in a Group A game in Estonia on Friday night.
The Finnish club improved to a 5-0 record, with Tarvas losing for the third time in five games.
Tarvas opened the scoring with a three-pointer by Mihkel Kurg, but it was the one and only time the hosts were ahead the entire game. Pyrinto quickly gained the lead and never gave it away.
Four minutes into the first quarter, the visitors from Tampere were up only 11-8, but Benjamin Raymond instigated a 21-0 run to increase the gap to 32-10 by the end of the period.
Pyrinto continued to fire on all cylinders offensively, while Tarvas could not find a solution to its defensive woes, with the distance between the sides growing to 65-33 at the halftime break.
Although the hosts scored nine more points than they averaged in four previous games, Pyrinto’s offensive dominance did not give the hosts even the slightest glimmer of hope.
The Finnish team remains the highest-scoring team in the BBL after putting up a season-high 117 points to improve to 92.6 points per game this season.
Pyrinto’s Kelvin Lewis led the game in scoring with 22 points, Benjamin Raymond collected 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Yannick Anzuluni finished the game with 16 points and eight boards.
For Tarvas, Kristo Saage collected a team-high 18 points, with Juris Umbrasko chipping in with 16 points and five rebounds.
PARNU – Ventspils registered its fifth BBL victory of the season on Friday evening, taking an 81-51 victory against Parnu on the road in Estonia.
The Latvians now tied with Siauliai at 5-1 for the first spot in Group B, while Parnu lost for the third time in four games.
Ventspils started the game strong and jumped ahead by double digits already after four minutes of play, taking an 18-8 lead.
Led by a well-rounded team effort, the guests had a 14-point advantage at the end of the first quarter, which they managed to increase to 49-27 at the halftime break.
Having established a 20-point lead, the visitors from Ventspils did not allow Parnu to get closer in the second half, with their lead reaching a game-high 30 points with a bucket by Davis Lejasmeiers.
Maris Gulbis led the guets in scoring with 14 points and also grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists. The only other Ventspils player in double digits was Ronalds Zakis with 10 points.
Parnu’s top scorers were Nemanja Miljkovic and Taavi Hamarsalu with 14 points each, while three players finished with seven points each.