BBL.net sat down with Latvian prospect Janis Berzins (202-F-93, agency: Players Group), who snatched up the Player of the Month honors for the month of January to talk about his improving game and the upsurge of Valmiera in the Top 16 round.
Having become the youngest player to claim the award this season, the 19-year-old forward from Latvia was happy about the opportunity to be playing big minutes in Valmiera, but acknowledged that there is still a long road ahead to success.
First of all, congratulations on winning the award. What do you think has been the main key to the improvement for you personally and the team as the whole in the month of January?
Thanks for the congratulations. It's a real honour for me. I didn't earn this award alone and these congratulations must be directed to the entire team. It would be impossible without my teammates and the coach, who put effort in order to succeed. We look to every game as it will be our last one - we don't sort opponents and prepare ourselves to fight at the highest level all the time. January in BBL was successful. I would like to point out the victory against one of the top Lithuanian team Siauliai on the home court. This win was big and emotional.
You finished the regular season on a quite bad stretch, but managed to take the first two games in the Top 16. Is this going to be a boost of extra confidence for the team?
I must agree - the first round was really tough. Every team in BBL is competitive and must be respected. The weekend when we succeeded in both games over Sakalai and Siauliai was terrific. We are young team and such victories increase the level of confidence to keep winning streak alive.
What were the goals for the team coming into the season? Now, that you started the second round very well, how far do you think you can go in BBL?
The goals before the season were to be one of the top 8 teams in BBL, but primarily qualify for the next round and fight for the medals in the Latvian Basketball League. Currently, we are on the right track and both personally and team-wise, we will do all it takes to reach the goals.
How would you describe yourself as a player? What would you name as your strengths and weaknesses?
I have always thought that the most objective evaluation can be given from people aside - it's difficult to assess myself. From my point of view, I feel comfortable in offensive basketball and during the season I have worked hard to improve my defensive skills. I am looking forward to find the right balance in order to be equally productive on offense and on defense. I still have to work a lot to become a great basketball player.
You did not have a big role with VEF last season, during the summer you played behind Janis Timma and Ojars Silins in the U20 national team. Are you enjoying being one of the key players on the team?
First of all, regarding to my previous season on VEF Riga roster, I gained a lot of experience. Even though my playing time was limited, during my minutes on court and in the training process against such a great sparing partners as Kristaps Janicenoks, Sandis Valters and Gatis Jahovics, I learnt a lot. It is immeasurable. Furthermore, I truly appreciate the help and advice from coaches Ramunas Butautas and Nikolajs Mazurs.
Regarding to U20 performance, we ended up in a high 6thplace in the European Championship. In such championship, I was a year younger than the majority of players and my role was to be back up player for Janis Timma. I am thankful to coach Roberts Stelmahers for trusting me in clutch episodes. My personal opinion is I didn't show my best and it motivates to work even harder. Furthermore, I enjoyed coach Stelmahers' work and professionalism - I see him as one of the best new coaches in our region.
Would it be safe to say that the loan move to Valmiera was the right decision? How are you finding working with coach Krumins?
Personally, I think it was right move - VEF Riga is one of the leading teams in Eurocup and regarding to current roster my playing time could have been limited. Mutually with the boards of VEF Riga and BK Valmiera, we agreed that playing a significant role in BBL and LBL would be the best for my development. Furthermore, Varis Krumins is professional coach for young players - it was an important aspect of making my decision.
What are your plans for the nearest future - will you be looking to come back to VEF and crack the rotation or are there other thoughts on your mind?
Right now, I don't want to focus on such thoughts. The most important thing right now is to concentrate to every game and work hard at practices in order to reach goals. I will be happy to discuss right after the season.
What are those goals you set yourself for a long-term perspective?
As every player, I have set the highest goals for myself, but I will keep it as secret. In order to succeed, I must work really hard. I am ready to do all it takes and it is the most important thing. Only hard work and the right attitude can bring you success.
Interview original retrieved: bbl.net, Author: Simonas Baranauskas
Davis Bertans selected the top Latvian playing abroad in last week's games - May 23, 2013
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Traditionally, every week we bring you a list of the top performances of Latvians who are currently playing abroad. This week's number one is an international small forward Davis Bertans (210-92). He led Partizan to a victory over the sixth-ranked Metalac in the Serbian A League in Sunday night's game.
Traditionally, every week we bring you a list of the top performances of Latvians who are currently playing abroad.
#1. This week's number one is an international small forward Davis Bertans (210-92, currently plays in Serbia). He led Partizan to a victory over the sixth-ranked Metalac (3-10) crushing them 88-62 in the Serbian A League in Sunday night's game.
Bertans was MVP of the game. He scored 24 points and grabbed 6 rebounds in 24 minutes on the court.
BC Partizan MT:S Beograd (11-2) is placed first in Superliga group.
It was his team's fourth consecutive victory in a row.
They will play only one more game in the Second Stage. And that game will be critical.
It's Bertans' first season with the team.
Bertans has relatively good stats this year: 14.3ppg, 3.4rpg, 2.4apg, 1.3bpg, 1.3spg, 2FGP: 67.3%(35-52) and FT: 76.7% in the 12 games he played so far.
He is currently a member of the Latvian senior national team.
#2. Second place goes to an international guard Armands Skele (192-83, currently plays in Estonia). Skele contributed to Kalev/Cramo's victory against the closely-ranked TU/Rock (28-4) 81-69 in the Estonian KML last Friday.
He recorded 13 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
It was the game of the round between two top 4 ranked teams. BC Kalev/Cramo Tallinn (28-4) is placed first in the KML.
It was his team's 11th consecutive victory in a row.
This season Skele averages: 9.1ppg, 4.5rpg, 2.4apg, 1.2spg, 2FGP: 47.5%, 3FGP: 37.5%.
He is in the roster of the Latvian senior national team.
#3. The Latvian player who performed third best last week abroad was an international small forward Rihards Kuksiks (197-88, college: Arizona St., currently plays in Ukraine), who plays in the Ukrainian Superleague. Kuksiks could not help Budivelnyk (28-11) to beat Azovmash (25-14).
He scored 6 points in 23 minutes.
The league leader Budivelnyk lost 73-77 at home to the lower-ranked (#3) Azovmash.
This year Kuksiks' overall stats are: 6.9ppg, 3.3rpg, 1.6apg, 2FGP: 42.4% and FT: 78.6% in the 16 games.
He is also a member of the Latvian senior national team.
#4. Forward Ivars Timermanis (203-82, currently plays in Romania), who plays in the Romanian Liga Nationala was not able to help Ploiesti (23-7) in their last game on Saturday. Despite Timermanis' good performance Ploiesti was defeated 91-81 on the road by the much lower-ranked Targu Mures (#11).
He recorded 14 points and grabbed 4 rebounds.
Timermanis' total stats this season are: 9.1ppg and 2.9rpg.
He used to play for the Latvian national team
back in 2007.
#5. Former international forward Janis Porzingis (201-82, agency: Interperformances, currently plays in Spain), who plays in the Spanish LEB Gold (second division) was not able to secure a victory for one of league's weakest teams Palencia Baloncesto (15-11) in their last game. Despite Porzingis' good performance Palencia Baloncesto lost 76-81 in Alicante to the higher-ranked (#3) Meridiano.
He scored 14 points, had 8 boards, passed 3 assists and added 3 steals in 34 minutes.
This year Porzingis' total stats are: 9.8ppg, 2.7rpg and 1.3spg in the 20 games.
He used to play for the Latvian national team
five years ago.
#6. Forward Ernests Kalve (200-87, currently plays in Hungary) couldn't help Szolnok (8-2) in their game against Atomeromu (6-4) in the Hungarian A Division. Kalve did not beat the league record on Friday evening.
He recorded only 2 points.
The sixth-placed Szolnok was defeated 95-82 in Paks by the second-ranked Atomeromu in the Places 1-6 group.
They ended the series of seven consecutive victories.
Kalve has averaged so far 9.1ppg and 4.5rpg.
He is a former international player as he played for the Latvian senior team three years ago.
One more player who has never been selected to any of national teams, but has Latvian passport:
#1. Experienced Gary Gandel (203-G/F-80, agency: Ronsport, currently plays in Israel), who plays in the Israeli National League (second division) could not help Hod Hasharon (18-8) in their last game. Despite Gandel's good performance Hod Hasharon lost 119-125 on the road to the leading Ironi Nes-Ziona.
He had a double-double by scoring 10 points and getting the same number of rebounds in 36 minutes.
This year Gandel has relatively solid stats: 11.0ppg, 5.2rpg, 2.3apg and 1.2spg in the 21 games he played so far.
He has a dual citizenship: Latvian and Israeli.
VEF Riga - Ventspils 74-72 (2-1)
VEF Riga takes LBL Finals lead at 2-1. Ventspils were trailing by 7 points at halftime but managed to get 5-point lead after three quarters before a 25-18 charge of VEF Riga, which allowed them to win the game. They made 16-of-20 free shots (80.0 percent) during the game. It was a good game for the former international forward Kristaps Janicenoks (196-83) who led his team to a victory with 18 points [read more]
VEF Riga takes LBL Finals lead at 2-1. Ventspils were trailing by 7 points at halftime but managed to get 5-point lead after three quarters before a 25-18 charge of VEF Riga, which allowed them to win the game. They made 16-of-20 free shots (80.0 percent) during the game. It was a good game for the former international forward Kristaps Janicenoks (196-83) who led his team to a victory with 18 points. Lithuanian center Antanas Kavaliauskas (207-84, college: Texas A&M, agency: Interperformances) contributed with 7 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists for the winners. Four VEF Riga players scored in double figures. American guard Folarin Campbell (192-86, college: George Mason) answered with a double-double by scoring 27 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists and international forward Janis Timma (201-92, agency: FCM) added 12 points and 6 rebounds in the effort for Ventspils. Ventspils' coach Roberts Stelmahers rotated ten players in this game, but that didn't help. Top scorers: VEF Riga: K.Janicenoks 18+1reb+2ast, E.Rowland 14+1reb+3ast, D.Zavackas 12+6reb+1ast, W.Daniels 11+1reb+1ast, G.Jahovics 8+2reb+2ast, A.Kavaliauskas 7+9reb+4ast Ventspils: F.Campbell 27+10reb+4ast, J.Timma 12+6reb+1ast, M.Laksa 10+3reb+2ast, A.Vairogs 7, S.Valters 4+4reb+4ast, M.Meiers 4+3reb
VTB League: Khimky secure the Semifinal berth - May 19, 2013
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VEF Riga - Khimky 60:82
Khimky secure the Semifinal berth in VTB League as they swept the series against VEF Riga. The Russian side posted an 82:60 win in Game 3 and sent Latvian side out of the Play-offs.
The game was mostly controlled by Khimky. VEF Riga was better in fourth quarter 21-19. But it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. Khimky had a 29-18 advantage in offensive rebounds [read more]
VEF Riga - Khimky 60:82
Khimky secure the Semifinal berth in VTB League as they swept the series against VEF Riga. The Russian side posted an 82:60 win in Game 3 and sent Latvian side out of the Play-offs. The game was mostly controlled by Khimky. VEF Riga was better in fourth quarter 21-19. But it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. Khimky had a 29-18 advantage in offensive rebounds. Their players were unselfish on offense dishing 28 assists comparing to just 12 passes made by VEF Riga's players. It was an exceptional evening for James Augustine (208-F-84, agency: Priority Sports, college: Illinois) who led the winners and scored 16 points and 7 rebounds. Kresimir Loncar (210-F-83, agency: Alti Sport) accounted for 14 points and 7 rebounds for the winning side. Lauris Blaus (204-C-90, agency: FCM) came up with 6 points and 11 rebounds. Will Daniels (203-F-86, college: Rhode Island) added 12 points and 6 rebounds respectively for VEF Riga in the defeat.
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