Tallinna Kalev survive in overtime


TALLINN – Despite wasting an 18-point lead, Tallinna Kalev survived the fourth quarter comeback by Tyco Rapla and outlasted the visitors 88-86 in overtime to start the new Baltic Basketball League (BBL) season with a win.

Behind a 9-2 run to start the game, Tallinna Kalev took control of the game, taking a double-digit lead at 17-7 midway through the quarter before extending the advantage to 29-15 by the end of the period.

The story didn’t change much in the second quarter as the home side maintained a solid 48-35 advantage at the end of the half.

Having trailed by as many as 18 points in the third quarter, Rapla came back storming with a 9-0 run to start the final period to cut it down to a 60-63 deficit.

Tallinna Kalev maintained a slight edge for the time being, but it wasn’t long before Oliver Metsalu gave Rapla the lead at 73-71 with a successful lay-up.

Four points in a row by Martin Dorbek had given the visitors a 77-74 lead, but Reimo Tamm’s game-tying three-pointer brought the teams level with 38 seconds left and forced an overtime.

Rapla started the extra period slightly better, establishing a four point lead. However, the hosts proved to be more clutch in the end.

With the score at 86-82 and 56 seconds left to play, Roland Prii hit a three-pointer and Renato Lindmets scored a lay-up, while Mario Paiste sealed the win with a free-throw.

Kaido Saks led the winners with a game-high 20 points and registering five blocked shots, while Reimo Tamm added 17 points for Tallinna Kalev.

Rapla’s forward Martin Dorbek was the leading scorer for the losing side with 17 points and 10 rebounds, as Andre Parn collected 15 points and 7 boards. 

Ventspils begin title defense successfully


VENTSPILS – There was not much intrigue in first Group B game of the season, as Ventspils inscribed its first win after taking a 71-47 win against the visiting Barsy Atyrau on Tuesday to start the defense of the Baltic Basketball League (BBL) trophy successfully.

The home side came out strong out of the gates, taking an early 9-3 lead, before extending the advantage to double digits after a lay-up by Ronalds Zakis to make it 17-6.

Although the Kazakh side had cut the deficit to 22-19 with a basket from Dmitry Gavrilov in the beginning of the second quarter, but Ventspils answered with a 10-1 run and broke away once again.

With a 45-28 lead at the half, Ventspils did not have any problems of cruising to an easy victory in the third and fourth quarters.

Ronalds Zakis was the top scorer for the Latvians with 11 points, while Akselis Vairogs and Sandis Valters chipped in with 10 points each.

No Barsy players scored in double digits, with Reinis Strupovics leading the team with 9 points, with Edgaras Zelionis collecting 8 points and 8 rebounds.

Tarvas survive thriller against Jekabpils


RAKVERE – In a thrilling game, Tarvas defeated the visiting Jekabpils team 74-73 to begin the new Baltic Basketball League (BBL) campaign on a positive note at home on Tuesday evening.

Almost nothing separated the sides in the first half, with the home side leading 47-46 after two quarters.

However, Jekabpils shot ahead in the third quarter, winning the period 18-11 to take a six-point lead before the deciding part of the game.  

Tarvas bounced back and squeezed out a season-opening victory in the last minutes of the game, edging the Latvian opponents by a single point, despite finishing the night with a 36.5% field goal percentage.

Giedrius Gustas, who had seven assists, and Rait Keerles, who collected six rebounds, scored 17 points each for the winners, while Laurynas Mikalauskas added 13.

Troy Barnies was the top scorer for Jekabpils with 16 points and also added 7 rebounds, while Rinalds Sirsnins chipped in with 14 points.

Siauliai defeat Parnu on the road


PARNU – Siauliai began the new Baltic Basketball League (BBL) season by thrashing Group B rivals Parnu 87-56 on the road in Estonia on Tuesday evening.

Parnu had a 12-10 advantage in the first quarter, but the visitors from Lithuania finished the period with an 11-3 run to take a 21-15 lead.

The second quarter proved to be decisive in the game, as Siauliai won the second ten minute stretch by 16 points and heading into halftime up 45-27.

Nothing changed in the second half, with Siauliai continuing to make long-range shots and Parnu struggling to score.

Siauliai finished the night, making 13-of-26 three-point attempts and shared the ball extremely well, making 22 assists.

Eigirdas Zukauskas had 16 points for Siauliai, Darius Pakamanis collected 14, while Arunas Sajavicius added 9 points and 7 rebounds.

Janis Vahter was the top scorer for the losing side with 16 points and 8 rebounds, as Rannar Raap added 13 points. 

Pieno Zvaigzdes win big against Caspiy


PASVALYS – Pieno Zvaigzdes started their 2013-14 Baltic Basketball League (BBL) campaign with an easy 77-53 victory against Caspiy Aktau, who now dropped to 0-2 in Group C.

The visitors from Kazakhstan had lost to Juventus two days ago and will continue their Lithuanian trip in Prienai on Thursday, where they will be hoping to get the first win.

Pieno Zvaigzdes answered most questions with a strong start, which allowed them to get a double-digit lead already before the end of the first quarter, as the scoreboard showed 16-6.

However, it wasn’t the end of troubles for Caspiy, as the Kazakh side conceded another 10-0 run on top of that to fall behind 26-6, before Kris Richard ended the scoring drought with a jumper.

The home side was up 39-20 at the half, with every single player scoring at least once, while the biggest problem for the Aktau team was taking care of the ball, as they committed 14 turnovers.

The story of the game didn’t change in the second half, as Pieno Zvaigzdes continued to dominate and confirmed their serious contentions for the season with a big opening win.

Egidijus Dimsa led the Lithuanians with a spectacular double-double, scoring 16 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, Rolandas Alijevas collected 15 points, while Zygimantas Jonusas chipped in with 10.

For Caspiy, Kris Richard had a team-high 12 points and 6 rebounds, while Vadym Matukevych was the only other player in double digits, having scored 10.

Juventus defeat Caspiy in season-opener


UTENA – After a spectacular offensive showcase in the first quarter, Juventus opened up their season with a 87-72 victory against the Baltic Basketball League (BBL) debutants Caspiy Aktau. The home team secured a double digit lead early on and managed to keep hold of it until the final buzzer.

Karolis Petrukonis scored 10 of his 16 points in the first five minutes and helped ignite a 15-4 run for Juventus. The Kazakh team faced a 12 point deficit at the end of the first quarter.

Strong play inside allowed the Lithuanians to stay in front and enter the halftime with a 45-32 lead. They scored 36 points inside the paint in the first half, while shooting at a 68% clip.

Caspiy made strides to get back in the game, but they were rebuffed outright. Although the gap was cut down to only seven before the fourth quarter, the home team rose to a 16-3 run and gathered an insurmountable lead.

Keyron Sheard was the top scorer for the Lithuanian team, tallying 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He also dished out 4 assists and collected 4 rebounds.

Karolis Petrukonis added 16 points and 7 rebounds in 19 minutes of playing time, while Edgaras Stanionis ended the game with 15 points and 6 rebounds.

Four players were in double digits for Caspiy, with Vadym Matyukevych leading his team with 16 points and 6 rebounds.

Richard Jameill contributed 15 points, while Zhanysh Erns Uulu added 11. Pavel Mikheev ended up scoring 10.

Hosts triumph in Vikonda BBL Cup


KEDAINIAI – Nevezis marked the start of the season by winning the Vikonda BBL Cup at home in Kedainiai after easing past Tartu Rock in the final. The home side triumphed 82-64 after breaking away in the second quarter.

Despite still playing without the big man duo of Povilas Butkevicius and Darius Silinskis, the Lithuanian team had no troubles against last year’s Estonian league runners-up, making 50% of three-point attempts.

Neither team gained a significant advantage in a low-scoring first quarter, as Rock had a 13-12 edge after the first ten minutes. However, after a 12-0 run in the second period, Nevezis shot ahead into a 32-21 lead.

Vilmantas Dilys, who was chosen as the MVP of the tournament, was the instigator of what proved to be the decisive run, scoring 10 of his 18 points in the five minute stretch.

The home side carried the momentum over to the second half and won the third period 33-19, bombarding the visitors from Estonia with successful long-range shots, before eventually calmly closing out the game in the fourth.

In addition to the 18 points by Vilmantas Dilys for Nevezis, American point guard Tyrone Brazelton collected 15 points and dished out 6 assists, Valdas Dabkus added 13 points, while Gintaras Leonavicius finished the game with 11 points and 9 rebounds.

Rock’s playmaker Augustas Peciukevicius was the top scorer for the visitors with 12 points, Vincent Simpson scored 11, while Kent-Kaarel Vene and Uros Lukovic added 9 points apiece.

Ventspils finish third in Vikonda BBL Cup


KEDAINIAI – Ventspils bounced back from a semifinal upset by Tartu Rock by finishing the Vikonda BBL Cup on a high note, as the Latvian team took a 63-59 victory against Prienai to secure third place.

Having led from start to finish, last season’s BBL champions had the control of the game in their hands from the early going, breaking away to an 18-6 lead six minutes into the game.

Although the Lithuanians had erased the deficit to a single point after Vaidas Cepukaitis knocked down two free-throws to make it 19-20, Ventspils struck back and pulled ahead once again.

The gap between the teams was only a few points, but Prienai couldn’t make the final push to turn the tables around, with Ventspils leading 37-33 at the half.

After two three-pointers in a row by Maris Gulbis in the third quarter, the Latvian side increased the advantage to 12 points, and Janis Timma soon made it 50-36 with a mid-range jumper.

Prienai did win the fourth quarter 21-12, but the last run came too late to put any pressure on Ventspils, as a very long three-point heave by Zygimantas Janavicius made the final score seem closer than the game actually was in the end.

Maris Gulbis was the top scorer of the game with 15 points on 3-of-4 three-point attempts, Sandis Valters scored 13, while no other Ventspils player reached double digits.

Dainius Salenga and Zygimantas Janavicius collected 11 points each for Prienai, while Martynas Linkevicius chipped in with a double-double of 10 points and 10 boards.

Eichfuss shocks Ventspils, as Rock advance


KEDAINIAI – Timo Eichfuss hit a three-pointer with the sound of the final buzzer, as Tartu Rock surprised the defending Baltic Basketball League champions Ventspils by winning the second Vikonda BBL Cup semifinal 71-68 to join the hosts Nevezis in the final.

On the previous possession, Akselis Vairogs had hit a game-tying shot from beyond the arc for the Latvian side, but the joy of Ventspils players didn’t last long, as the pre-game favorites will now have to fight for third place against Prienai in a rematch of last season’s BBL Finals after Eichfuss denied an overtime with a triple of his own.

During the first quarter, neither team managed to go up by more than three points, as the lead changed hands nine times, before settling down with Ventspils at 17-16 after the first ten minutes.

The story was very much the same in the second quarter, but it was the Latvian team once again with the edge at the half, leading 32-29.

However, Rock caught fire in the middle of the third period, as Timo Eichfuss, Gert Dorbek and Vincent Simpson nailed a three-pointer each to give the Estonians a 48-42 edge.

The Estonians maintained a slight lead for the majority of the final quarter, but Ventspils fought until the end and were one successful defensive possession from forcing an overtime.

Lithuanian guard Augustas Peciukevicius had a game-high 15 points and 8 rebounds for Rock, Uros Lukovic collected 12 points, but the hero of the day was still Timo Eichfuss, whose last triple put his point tally at 11.

Ronalds Zakis was the key man for Ventspils with 13 points and 7 rebounds, while Lorenzo Williams and Janis Timma collected 10 points each, with the latter also adding 7 boards.

Nevezis book spot in Vikonda BBL Cup final


KEDAINIAI – The final of the Vikonda BBL Cup 2013 is set to be played in great atmosphere after the hosts Nevezis eased past last year’s BBL finalists Prienai and took an easy 85-72 victory in the all-Lithuanian semifinal.

The second finalist will be decided in the other semifinal between the defending BBL champions Ventspils and Tartu Rock, with the winner of the pair facing Nevezis in the trophy game on Sunday.

With four minutes played in the first quarter, Prienai had a 5-4 advantage, but Nevezis went on an 11-2 run to go up by eight points. Although the visitors managed to get back in front at 21-17, but it was their last lead of the game.

The game was still close at the half, with Nevezis having a slight 44-42 lead. However, after a strong third quarter, the hosts broke away by double digits and never looked back.

Arvydas Siksnius led his side to the victory and was the top scorer of the game with 17 points, also adding 6 rebounds and 4 assists.

Simas Buterlevicius finished the game with 15 points after going 3-of-10 from three-point range, while Vilmantas Dilys and Gintaras Leonavicius chipped in with 14 points each for Nevezis.

An impressive all-around performance by Zygimatnas Janavacius, who had 14 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, wasn't enough for Prienai to get a spot in the final.

Dainius Salenga and Vaidas Cepukaitis had 13 points apiece for the visitors, as well.