Eurobasket had the pleasure of sitting down with BALTIC LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE WEEK Jai Lucas (177-G, college: Texas). After a brilliant 27 point, 4 assist performance en route to a 36 point victory to put his BK Valmiera club in in sole possession of 3rd place in the Challenge Cup. EU: Jai,, how have you found playing in Latvia? Most importantly, in the Baltic League? JL: Playing in Latvia has been an amazing experience for me, being my first time in Europe it has been an easy adjustment. The baltic league has been very enjoyable, being able to see the different styles of basketball in the other baltic countries has been pretty cool. EU: How did you find out the Latvian LBL? What compelled you to Play in this market? Was BK Valmiera's inclusion in the Baltic League a decision maker for you? JL: After college I wanted to pursue a professional career in basketball and BK Valmiera was one of the teams that showed a lot of interest in me. I had only heard nothing but good things about Latvia and the LBL. With the team also competing in the BBL I felt this was an opportunity that couldn't be passed up. EU: Last season, you were in the NCAA, now you are in a premier FIBA Competition in Europe. Please tell us briefly any differences between the US style of play and that of Eastern Europe. JL: There are a lot of differences between the two, but the main ones that stick out to me are the physicality of the games and the travel call. The travel call has been the hardest for mr to adjust to so far. EU: Please outline for us briefly, what has been the path that brought you here to Latvia this season, and what do u think is on the horizon for you in the very near future.
JL: The path that brought me here to Latvia has been a long one with its highs and lows. My college didn't career didn't turn out as I had hoped for it to, so it put me in a position of needing somewhere to prove myself. For me it didn't matter where I went I know my skill and what I'm capable of just needed the opportunity. In the future I'm trying to keep the same mind set and do whatever is necessary to get to the highest level of basketball in the world wherever that may be. EU: We know that you get a lot of questions about your family and the NBA tag that is associated with all of you. Did growing up with an NBA player/coach father help prepare you for playing in Europe? JL: Yes it did, because he taught me everything I know about basketball and has prepared me for anything that this game can throw at me.so, it prepared me to be able to adjust to the european game and how my game can be effective here EU: It appears that your ability to run a team and apply pressure defense to opposing guards has wreaked havoc in both the Baltic League and the LBL. Is that going to be an asset as the club enters the 2nd season or second half of the season? JL: I believe it will be I'am confident with where we are right now and how we are coming together as a team. We just need to continue to get better in the second half of the season so we can be in a good position come playoff time. EU: We see that you and Ernests Kalve have been forming a very formative duo. He has had a tremendous amount of experience given his youth, Have you any thoughts on him? JL: I love Ernests' game he is one of the best scorers I have ever played with and I have yet to see anyone better than him in the LBL or BBL. I call him Easy E sometimes because he makes scoring the ball look so easy all the time. EU: Any outlook for the 2nd half, after January? Both in Latvia and also in the Baltic? JL: Just to keep up pace at the top of both leagues, so we can be in contention to compete for a championship at the end of the season. EU: Any thing to share or say to your family or fans back home in the US? JL: Just to say hello to everyone in Houston and that I'm doing good and I can't wait to see them for the holidays. Also to all of my friends that are also chasing their dream abroad to keep working and grinding it out one day at a time. WE, AT EUROBASKET WOULD LIKE TO WISH JAI A STRONG FINISH TO THE 1st HALF OF THE SEASON & WE LOOK TO HEAR MORE GREAT THINGS FROM HIM IN THE VERY NEAR FUTURE. HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND BEST SWISHES JAI!
Defending champion Valmiera/ORDO (LBL) added to their roster experienced 36-year old Latvian ex-international guard Kristaps Valters (190-78kg-81). He has played for the last two seasons at Turk Telekom in Turkish BSL league. In 6 games he recorded 4.2ppg, 1.0rpg and 2.2apg last season. Valters also played 2 games in FIBA Europe Cup where he averaged 3.0ppg, 1.5rpg and 1.0apg. The previous (14-15) season he played at Barons Riga. In 8 LBL games he had 12.0ppg, 2.5rpg and 4.5apg. Valters a... [read more]
Defending champion Valmiera/ORDO (LBL) added to their roster experienced 36-year old Latvian ex-international guard Kristaps Valters (190-78kg-81). He has played for the last two seasons at Turk Telekom in Turkish BSL league. In 6 games he recorded 4.2ppg, 1.0rpg and 2.2apg last season. Valters also played 2 games in FIBA Europe Cup where he averaged 3.0ppg, 1.5rpg and 1.0apg. The previous (14-15) season he played at Barons Riga. In 8 LBL games he had 12.0ppg, 2.5rpg and 4.5apg. Valters also played 4 games in Baltic League where he got impressive 16.5ppg, 1.8rpg and 5.5apg. He represented Latvia at the European Championships in Poland eight years ago. His stats at that event were 8 games: 9.5ppg, 4.9rpg, 4.0apg, FGP: 36.7%, 3PT: 34.3%, FT: 62.1%. Valters is quite experienced player. He has played also professionally in Germany (Artland Dragons), Greece (Panathinaikos), Italy (UBC and Scafati), Russia (Zenit), Spain (Joventut, Unicaja Malaga and Baloncesto Fuenlabrada) and Latvia (Skonto). It's very possible he may end his playing career at Valmiera. The scouts decsribe him following way:
Very good point guard. Quick and goos ballhandler. Likes fast breaks. Can pass the ball and good court penetration. Still improving.
Tallinna Ulikool/Kalev (Alexela KML) inked 28-year old Montenegrin center Stefan Knezevic (204-89). He started the season at Jedinstvo in Montenegrin Erste Liga. Knezevic has played there for the last three years. In 14 Erste Liga games he recorded 12.6ppg and 7.2rpg this season. The last season he played also at Jedinstvo (also in Erste Liga) where in 22 games he averaged 3.9ppg and 3.2rpg. Knezevic has played previously professionally also in Bosnia (Leotar) and Montenegro (KK ABS Primo... [read more]
Tallinna Ulikool/Kalev (Alexela KML) inked 28-year old Montenegrin center Stefan Knezevic (204-89). He started the season at Jedinstvo in Montenegrin Erste Liga. Knezevic has played there for the last three years. In 14 Erste Liga games he recorded 12.6ppg and 7.2rpg this season. The last season he played also at Jedinstvo (also in Erste Liga) where in 22 games he averaged 3.9ppg and 3.2rpg. Knezevic has played previously professionally also in Bosnia (Leotar) and Montenegro (KK ABS Primorje 1945 Herceg Novi and KK Centar Bijelo Polje).
TLU/Kalev is currently on 6th position in Estonian KML but the recent form of the team is promising and the team will definitely keep fighting for medals.
Results and Stats from Round 1 of 1/8 Finals - 12 days ago
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TTU - Kalev/Cramo 63-101 Kalev/Cramo fired past TTU in the eighth-finals opener. The game without a history. Kalev/Cramo led from the first minutes and controlled entire game increasing their lead in each quarter. Kalev/Cramo outrebounded TTU 42-28 including a 34-15 advantage in defensive rebounds. They looked well-organized offensively handing out 22 assists comparing to just 9 passes made by TTU's players. Guard Rain Veideman (192-91) stepped up and scored 21 points and 4 assists for t... [read more]
Kalev/Cramo fired past TTU in the eighth-finals opener. The game without a history. Kalev/Cramo led from the first minutes and controlled entire game increasing their lead in each quarter. Kalev/Cramo outrebounded TTU 42-28 including a 34-15 advantage in defensive rebounds. They looked well-organized offensively handing out 22 assists comparing to just 9 passes made by TTU's players. Guard Rain Veideman (192-91) stepped up and scored 21 points and 4 assists for the winners and forward Erik Keedus (198-90) chipped in 13 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Four Kalev/Cramo players scored in double figures. At the losing side Serbian center Nikola Vujovic (210-93, college: Georgian Court) responded with a double-double by scoring 16 points and 13 rebounds and forward Joonas Jarvelainen (202-90, agency: Octagon Europe) scored 7 points and 6 rebounds. The winner was already known earlier in the game, so both coaches allowed to play the bench players saving starting five for next games. Top scorers: Kalev/Cramo: R.Veideman 21+2reb+4ast, S.Sokk 15+1reb+5ast, E.Keedus 13+8reb+4ast, M.Gladness 12+8reb, D.Harper 9+2reb+4ast, M.Dorbek 8+5reb+1ast TTU: N.Vujovic 16+13reb+2ast, S.Olmre 10+1reb+1ast, R.Koort 10+2reb, J.Jarvelainen 7+6reb+2ast, S.Viilup 6, R.Kuimet 5+1reb+3ast
BK Ogre overcame Pieno Zvaigzdes in the opener. The hosts trailed by 4 points at the halftime before their 46-34 charge in the second half, which allowed them to win the game. BK Ogre looked well-organized offensively handing out 21 assists. 24 personal fouls committed by P.Zvaigzdes helped opponents get some easy free throw opportunities. Italian-Latvian forward Gints Antrops (201-82, agency: Interperformances) stepped up and scored 15 points and 7 rebounds for the winners and point guard Marcis Vitols (183-92) chipped in 16 points. BK Ogre's coach used a ten-player rotation which allowed the starters a little rest for the next games. At the losing side swingman Steponas Babrauskas (197-84) responded with a double-double by scoring 16 points and 10 rebounds and American point guard Derrick Low (191-86, college: Washington St., agency: Octagon Europe) produced a double-double by scoring 10 points and 10 assists. Four BK Ogre and five P.Zvaigzdes players scored in double figures. Top scorers: BK Ogre: R.Zebergs 17+3reb, M.Vitols 16+3reb+3ast, G.Antrops 15+7reb+2ast, G.Sipolins 12+2reb+1ast, K.Apsitis 11+5reb+2ast, L.Mizis 7+4reb+2ast P.Zvaigzdes: S.Babrauskas 16+10reb, A.Agafonov 11+9reb+3ast, E.Dimsa 11+6reb+1ast, E.Zabas 10+4reb+4ast, D.Low 10+3reb+10ast, I.Fiodorovas 8+2reb+1ast
Nevezis upset Jekabpils in Latvia to move closer to the quarterfinal stage. Jekabpils trailed by 13 points after 3 quarters before a 28-19 run in the last quarter cut the deficit to 74-78 at the end of the game. Nevezis dominated down low during the game scoring 38 of its points in the paint compared to Jekabpils' 18 and made 22-of-29 free shots (75.9 percent) during the game. They outrebounded Jekabpils 36-22 including 25 on the defensive glass. Jekabpils were plagued by 24 personal fouls down the stretch. American guard Jermaine Love-Roberts (188-89, college: Ill.-Springfield) stepped up and scored 17 points and 5 rebounds for the winners and forward Vaidotas Volkus (203-85, college: Redlands CC) chipped in 16 points and 7 rebounds. At the losing side center Jurijs Aleksejevs (202-85) responded with 20 points and 6 rebounds and point guard Rinalds Sirsnins (186-85) scored 20 points and 4 assists. Jekabpils' coach tried various players' combinations and tested in total eleven players in this game, but that didn't help. Top scorers: Nevezis: J.Love-Roberts 17+5reb+1ast, V.Volkus 16+7reb, I.Smiljanic 11+2reb, I.Vaitkus 9+6reb+2ast, K.Petrukonis 8+7reb+1ast, P.Petrilevicius 7+3reb+2ast Jekabpils: R.Sirsnins 20+1reb+4ast, J.Aleksejevs 20+6reb+1ast, R.Stumbris 17+2reb, J.Antrops 9+3reb+4ast, A.Selakovs 4+5reb, E.Stelmahers 3+1reb+2ast
Barons Riga left no chance for Jurmala in the playoffs opener. The game without a history. Barons Riga led from the first minutes and controlled entire game increasing their lead in each quarter. They made 17-of-18 charity shots (94.4 percent) during the game. Barons Riga had a 31-19 advantage in offensive rebounds. It was a great shooting night for Barons Riga especially from behind the arc, where they had solid 53.3 percentage. They brought some defensive toughness making 7 blocks. Worth to mention a great performance of center Davis Rozitis (215-90, college: Hawaii) who helped to win the game recording a double-double by scoring 13 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 blocks. American guard Tyler Larson (190-91, college: S.Dakota) contributed with 18 points and 7 rebounds (made all of his eight free throws) for the winners. Rozitis is a former Eurobasket Summer League player, which is considered top international summer league in the market. Five Barons Riga players scored in double figures. Latvian center Jekabs Rozitis (205-86) answered with 9 points and 8 rebounds and center Viktors Iljins (212-91) added 8 points and 8 rebounds in the effort for Jurmala. Jurmala's coach gave up on the game allowing to play eleven players seeing no chance for a win. Top scorers: Barons Riga: T.Larson 18+7reb+3ast, D.Rozitis 13+11reb+4ast, D.Geks 13+4reb+2ast, R.Freimanis 13+4reb+3ast, K.Mediss 12+1reb+1ast, D.Krestinin 7+4reb+3ast Jurmala: J.Rozitis 9+8reb, A.Duselis 9+5reb, V.Iljins 8+8reb, D.Gutmanis 8+2reb+2ast, U.Feldmanis 5+1reb+1ast, U.Pinete 5+2reb+1ast
Valmiera upset Rapla to grab the lead in the series. The game was mostly controlled by Valmiera. Rapla was better in second period 19-18. But it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. They dominated down low during the game scoring 58 of its points in the paint compared to Rapla's 34. American point guard Damier Pitts (177-89, college: Marshall) nailed 21 points, 5 assists and 4 steals for the winning side and his fellow American import guard Ashton Mitchell (183-88, college: Sam Houston St., agency: Mansfield and Associates) accounted for 17 points. Pitts is a former Eurobasket Summer League player, which is considered top international summer league in the market. Four Valmiera players scored in double figures. Martin Paasoja (191-93) came up with 22 points and 6 rebounds and Slovenian point guard Domen Bratoz (189-93) added 9 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists respectively for Rapla in the defeat. Top scorers: Valmiera: D.Pitts 21+3reb+5ast, A.Mitchell 17+4reb+1ast, A.Berzins 14+6reb+1ast, L.Blaus 10+4reb, M.Laksa 7+4reb+1ast, J.Kaufmanis 7+3reb+1ast Rapla: M.Paasoja 22+6reb+1ast, T.van der Mars 10+5reb, D.Bratoz 9+6reb+4ast, I.Kajupank 8+3reb+5ast, R.Suarez 7+4reb, K.Voolaid 4+3reb
Vytautas stormed past Parnu in the opening leg of eighth-final series. The game without a history. Vytautas led from the first minutes and controlled entire game increasing their lead in each quarter. They dominated down low during the game scoring 52 of its points in the paint compared to Parnu's 32. Vytautas forced 23 Parnu turnovers and outrebounded them 37-26 including 27 on the defensive glass. They looked well-organized offensively handing out 31 assists comparing to just 12 passes made by Parnu's players. Point guard Domantas Seskus (180-92) stepped up and scored 22 points and 4 assists for the winners and forward Vytenis Lipkevicius (196-89) chipped in 13 points, 6 assists and 5 steals. Four Vytautas players scored in double figures. At the losing side Lithuanian swingman Edvinas Seskus (196-95, agency: Players Group) responded with 17 points and 5 rebounds and swingman Saimon Sutt (200-95) scored 14 points and 6 rebounds. Top scorers: Vytautas: D.Seskus 22+1reb+4ast, S.Kulvietis 18+3reb+1ast, V.Lipkevicius 13+4reb+6ast, T.Klimavicius 11+7reb+1ast, T.Delininkaitis 11+4reb+8ast, A.Valeika 10+2reb+4ast Parnu: E.Seskus 17+5reb+3ast, S.Sutt 14+6reb+1ast, M.Kirves 11+6reb+1ast, D.Bubalo 7+5reb+3ast, R.Hallik 3+1reb+2ast, N.Kabin 2+1reb+1ast
Liepaja/Triobet rolled past TLU/Kalev in Game 1. The guests trailed by 2 points after first quarter, but they stormed back to get the 3-point lead at the halftime and eventually won the game 92-75. Liepaja/Triobet looked well-organized offensively handing out 23 assists. Guard Roberts Krastins (195-94) fired 24 points and 6 rebounds for the winners. Guard Arturs Ausejs (192-90) chipped in 20 points and 6 assists. Point guard Kristo Saage (186-85) produced 23 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists and 4 steals and Serbian center Djordje Dzeletovic (205-93, agency: AproK Sports Group) added 17 points and 11 rebounds respectively for lost side. Top scorers: Liepaja/Triobet: R.Krastins 24+6reb+1ast, A.Ausejs 20+4reb+6ast, R.Berzins 17+1reb+1ast, I.Aizpurs 10+1reb, C.Montgomery 6+5reb+5ast, K.Pauls Lasmanis 6+12reb+3ast TLU/Kalev: K.Saage 23+8reb+9ast, D.Dzeletovic 17+11reb+2ast, R.Tamm 11+3reb+3ast, K.Saks 8+3reb, M.Jurtom 6+2reb+1ast, I.Stankevits 4+5reb
TU/Rock dropped Barsy Atyrau for the opening win in the series. TU/Rock led from the first minutes and controlled entire game increasing their lead in each quarter. They dominated down low during the game scoring 42 of its points in the paint compared to Barsy Atyrau's 18 and made 17-of-22 free shots (77.3 percent) during the game. They outrebounded Barsy Atyrau 43-25 including 16 on the offensive glass. Janari Joesaar (198-93, college: UTRGV, agency: Three Eye Sports) stepped up with a double-double by scoring 19 points and 10 rebounds for the winners and Lithuanian center Dominykas Milka (203-92, college: St.Rose, NY) chipped in 16 points and 7 rebounds. At the losing side American point guard Trevin Parks (180-91, college: Johnson C. Smith) responded with 17 points and the other American import guard Ryan Cook (191-90, college: UMBC, agency: HMS) scored 11 points. The winner was already known earlier in the game, so both coaches allowed to play the bench players saving starting five for next games. Top scorers: TU/Rock: J.Joesaar 19+10reb+1ast, D.Milka 16+7reb+1ast, M.Thomas 16+1reb+3ast, V.Jois 8+9reb, T.Sokk 7+2reb+4ast, J.Talts 7+5reb+5ast Barsy Atyrau: T.Parks 17+1reb+1ast, R.Cook 11+4reb+2ast, P.Ilin 4+3reb+1ast, M.Yevstigneyev 4+2reb+2ast, N.Bazhkin 4+2reb+1ast, I.Zhunussov 3+1reb
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