Ventspils shoots their way to BBL ‘ship lead


Ventspils’ Folarin Campbell launches one of the five long-balls he shot and connected with during Game 1

Anyone that’s ever played competitive basketball can tell you that there are days that you feel like you couldn’t hit the backboard from five feet and then there are days that no matter what you throw up, it somehow finds the cords. If the latter happens to you the best thing to do is to just keep shooting, if it’s happening against you, you have to do everything you can to break the rhythm of the shooter. Unfortunately for Prienai, when they stepped onto their home court in Lithuania Tuesday for Game 1 of the Baltic Basketball League championship, they had to deal with not just one hot hand, but practically the entire squad from Ventspils as the Latvian club knocked down an amazing 14 of 19 shots from behind the arc, including a five of five performance by Folarin Campbell, en route to a game-high 21 points.

If your long division is a bit rusty, we’ll do it for you, that works out to 73.7%.

To put that into further perspective:

Prienai shot 20 of 29 (69.0%) from the free throw line.
Ventspils shot 11 of 16 (68.8%) from the free throw line.
Ventspils shot 19 of 32 (59.4%) inside the arc.
Prienai shot 14 of 27 (51.9%) from inside the arc.
Prienai shot 7 of 21 (33.3%) from behind the arc.

Said Ventspils coach, Roberts Stelmahers:

“We knew they played very well at home. We’re happy to one the first half of the series, but it’s only the first half and we’ll need to win at home as well. Not every day you can make 74 percent of three-pointers, sometimes you just have to be lucky. Maybe we won’t be as lucky in the second game. Who knows? The finals aren’t over yet.”

When all was said and done, Ventspils had taken a 22-point advantage on the night with a 69:91 victory and will have that margin to work with when Prienai heads to Latvia on Saturday, April 6th for the second and deciding game.

The hosts got the early lead, but the first six minutes of the contest were evenly played. With just under four minutes left in the initial frame Arnas Labuckas hit the nylon with a triple to put Prienai up by a point, 15:14. Over the next three minutes the home club wouldn’t find the net, while Ventspils would tally up seven unanswered to get up six, 15:21. They traded deuces in the last 18 seconds to head into Q2 with the guests still holding a six-spot, 17:23.

Martins Meiers split a pair of singles to open the scoring in the second, then Janis Timma knocked down a three-ball to push the margin to 10, 17:27. Labuckas connected on a pair of free throws, which was countered by another long-ball, this time by Akselis Vairogs. The hosts got a deuce and the crowd on their feet when Arturas Valeika tossed down a rim-rocker and the ‘and one’ when he was fouled in the process. Donald Sims sat them down though when he launched and connected on the third triple in a row for the guests.

Interestingly, shortly after the three consecutive three-balls, it was Campbell that came up empty on a lay-up attempt.

A 2:9 run, including seven from Campbell (a lay-up, a triple and two singles) midway through the second 10 put the guests up 15, 27:42. Prienai hit five straight of their own, but over the last three minutes the two clubs exchanged baskets, including Campbell dropping in three jumpers, one inside the arc and two outside, accounting for 15 of his 21 points in the second frame alone. Ventspils took a 37:52 advantage into the dressing rooms at the break.

The hosts were able to cut the gap to eight during the third frame, but by the time the 30th minutes had ticked off, the Latvian club had extended back to 13 54:67. Prienai did outscore Ventspils 17:15 in the third quarter.

Knowing that the series would come down to total points, the guests had no intentions of letting up and knocked down four triples in the final quarter, including three in a row early in the frame, on the way to adding nine points to their lead, ending the contest up 69:91.

Campbell led the way for Ventspils with 21 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and an efficiency rating of 31. Sims added 15, Vairogs contributed 12 points and 5 rebounds, Arturs Berzins also tallied 12 points, and Timma finished the night with 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals.

Gediminas Orelik paced Prienai with 15 points, and Arturas Milaknis added 13.

Kalev/Cramo’s Bamba Fall (24) goes up to attempt a block during Game 1 of the bronze medal series on Baron’s Jekabs Rozitis.

Bronze Medal Series: Barons kvartals – Kalev/Cramo, 79:71
Barons got the Bronze medal series off to a solid start with a 79:71 win over Kalev/Cramo at home on Tuesday. The final game will be played on Friday, April 5 in Tallinn, Estonia.

Kalev/Cramo opened the contest with a 13:22 advantage, but then Barons stormed back with a massive 37 points in the second quarter, including a 15:0 run early on and a 7:0 run deep in the frame, to head into the break up 50:37.

The clubs played to a 16:16 tie in the third to keep the margin at 13, 66:53. The guests went on a 2:11 run deep in the fourth to cut the margin to from 15 to six, but Barons Tyler Cain knocked down a jumper at the buzzer to give them an eight-point advantage heading into Game 2.

Martins Gulbis led Barons with 19, Deividas Dulkys added 17 and Cain contributed 14 points, and 9 rebounds on the night.

Bamba Fall was game high for Kalev/Cramo with a double-double performance of 21 points and 10 rebounds. Frank Elegar dropped in 13 and Ty Abbot contributed 11.

Barons’ friendlies express their approval of their clubs’ 79:71 win over Kalev/Cramo in Game 1 of the bronze medal series.

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