Olander and Siauliai win Baltic Basketball League Championship

bbl.net

bbl.net

The League

The Baltic Basketball League (BBL) is a regional competition comprised primarily of teams in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania but has included clubs from Finland, Kazakhstan, Sweden and Russia in previous years.

The Format

The BBL includes a regular season featuring two groups of six teams and one group of seven that leads to a Top 16 knockout stage in which qualifying clubs play a home/away against their competitor. The winner is decided by who has the greatest point differential. For example, if UConn lost to Duke on the road 68-66 (-2) but won at home 77-74 (+3), UConn would advance to the next round (+1 overall). Siauliai began the playoffs with the #1 seed, an honor bestowed to the previous years champion.

The Bracket

bbl.net

bbl.net

The Playoffs

#1 Siauliai cruised through the playoffs, easily defeating #13 Parnu (Estonia) and #10 Lietkabelis in the first and second rounds. The semifinals presented a Lithuanian Cup Bronze Medal rematch, with Siauliai squeaking by #4 Juventus by just 4 points. On March 12, Siauliai won by a 4 point margin, 73-69, and on March 22nd, the teams played to a 60-60 tie to allow Siauliai to advance. The beauty of this type of basketball is literally every point counts.

The Championship

This years championship matchup pit the 2013 Champion BC Ventspils (Latvia) versus 2014 Champion BC Siauliai (Lithuania). The first game, played on March 25th, saw Ventspils defeat Siauliai at home behind 14 points from Jerai Grant (Clemson) brother of Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant.

Here is the press release from the first game. 

In order to repeat as BBL Champions, Olander and Siauliai needed to win Wednesday’s matchup by at least 3 points. It was not looking good for Siauliai early in the second half, as the visitors from Latvia pulled ahead by double-digits. Just as the game was slipping out of reach, Siauliai used a 13-2 run to even the score. The clubs went back and forth for the remainder of the 4th quarter, leading to a thrilling overtime. Siauliai jumped out to an 8 point lead to begin the extra session and never looked back, taking both the game and BBL crown by an 88-80 margin. Rokas Giedraitis led the Lithuanians with 22 points while Ryan Olander added 8 points and 3 rebounds in the victory.

Here is the press release from the final game.

Gintaras Siuparys

Gintaras Siuparys

The Implications

Not only does a Baltic Basketball League Championship provide regional bragging rights and monetary incentives, the Champion is also assured a spot in the following year’s EuroChallenge- the third-tier level transnational men’s basketball competition. The EuroChallenge feeds to the second-tier EuroCup which leads to the first-tier FIBA Euroleague aka the European NBA. The best way for a mid-level club such as Siauliai to increase its reputation in the European basketball scene is by continuing to play in the most competitive leagues available. This can be achieved one way and one way only- by winning.

bbl.net

bbl.net

What’s Next?

With the BBL Championship under their belt Siauliai will now compete for the LKL (Lithuanian National League) Championship. Currently sitting at #7, with 8 games remaining, Siauliai has all but solidified a berth in the LKL playoffs. Best of luck to Siauliai in their quest for yet another Championship…

More pictures…

Gintaras Siuparys

Gintaras Siuparys

Gintaras Siuparys

Gintaras Siuparys

UConn Abroad Recap: Marcus Williams beats Niels Giffey; Dyson leads Sassari

EuroLeague

Marcus Williams had 7 points and a game-high 10 assists leading #7 Crvena Zvezda to a 86-69 Top 16 victory over Niels Giffey and #5 ALBA Berlin. Giffey, battling foul trouble, added 3 points and 3 rebounds for the German club. In typical fashion, many of Williams dimes were of the highlight variety, including a pair of nifty no-looks:

With the win, #7 Crvena moves out of last place and ALBA falls into a tie for #5. Both clubs qualified for the Top 16 with impressive EuroLeague regular seasons but have struggled thus far. The Top 16 divides qualifying clubs from the regular season into two Groups -E and F- for a 14 game round-robin season. In order to advance to the next round of play, ALBA and Crvena must finish among the top four seeds in Group E. The two will rematch at the end of March, in a game that could decide postseason fate.

It was a big week for Williams across the board as his 19 point/6 assist effort led #1 Crvena to a thrilling 1 point victory over #2 Buducnost (Montenegro) in the Adriatic League. The game featured two former elite Big East point guards as Williams faced off against Omar Cook of St. John’s. See highlights below:

EuroCup

One tier down, in EuroCup play, it was Jerome Dyson’s turn to beat up on Cook, as his 11 points/7 assists helped Sassari move into #2 in Group H with a win over Buducnost. Remember, clubs play in multiple leagues so there is much crossover, especially during the postseason.

In Italian Series A play, Dyson’s 17 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists kept Sassari at #4 with just over 10 games remaining.

In Group M play, Hilton Armstrong and Besiktas (Turkey) moved to #2 with a victory over Neptunas (Lithuania). Through three quarters, Armstrong had 8 points/5 rebounds/3 blocks before leaving the game with an ankle injury. He is expected to miss only a week. Besiktas also announced the signing of former Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds.

Both clubs return to action next week needing a win to advance to the next stage, the EuroCup Final Eight.

 

BC Siauliai eliminated on half court buzzer beater (video)

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BC Siauliai was eliminated from Last 16 consideration in heartbreaking fashion yesterday, losing to Usak (Turkey) 78-75 on a half court buzzer beater at the end of regulation. Siauliai and Usak were competing for the last spot in the Final 16 out of Group H, with the ultimate goal a trip to the championship. The first three quarters were typical for a game with such high stakes, featuring 18 lead changes and 12 ties leading up to the dramatic finish. Siauliai held the lead 75-73 before a VERY questionable foul (see second video) called on Ryan Olander allowed Usak to tie the game on free throws. Following a Siauliai miss in the waning seconds, Courtney Fells (NC State) collected the rebound, took two dribbles and launched the game winner from behind the half court line. See shot below:

Here is the full game, see 1:43:00 for the INCREDIBLY QUESTIONABLE foul call to keep Usak in the game:

It’s hard to tell what’s more heartbreaking, the half court heave or the foul called on a clean block…at home!

Though the EuroChallenge season is over for Siauliai they will still compete in the LKL (Lithuanian National League) through April. The club currently sits at 8-6 (#5) with 25 games remaining.

BC Siauliai falls to Usak Sportif in Turkey

Siauliai Usak

bcsiauliai.lt

Usak Sportif overcame an early deficit to defeat visiting BC Siauliai 79-69 in Group H play yesterday in Turkey. Americans Justin Carter (Creighton) and Courtney Fells (NC State) led the way for Sportif with 19 points each. Siauliai’s 12 point first half lead was erased  quickly on a strong shooting night from Sportif, finishing 31-62 (50%) from the field. The two clubs were back and forth throughout the third quarter before an 11-2 run by Sportif sealed the deal. Rokas Giedraitis led the way for Siauliai with 25 points/4 rebounds and Ryan/Tyler Olander combined for 10 points/14 rebounds in a losing effort. With the loss, Siauliai drops to 2-1 in Group H play. They return to EuroChallenge action December 3rd when they host Enisey in Lithuania. The club returns to LKL action tomorrow at home against #4 Juventus.

BC Siauliai off to best start in EuroChallenge history

bcsiauliai.lt

BC Siauliai finds themselves an even 6-6 entering Round 13 of the LKL season. After jumping out to a 4-2 start, Siauliai lost four in a row to close October. One particularly notable game came on October 9th against Alex Oriakhi’s club, Zvaigzdes, in a game that pit two former UConn champions against one another. Tyler Olander not only got the better of the matchup -14 points to Oriakhi’s 6- but Siauliai came away with the 13 point victory. You can view the battle here. November has proven promising thus far for the club with two double digit wins over #10 Nevezis and #8 Tonybet. Here are the twin towers official stat line through 12 LKL games:

Player G MIN FG-FGA FG% REB BL PTS EFF
R. Olander 12 17.6 36-73 49% 4.0 0.5 8.1 7.6
T. Olander 12 12.7 18-30 60% 2.3 0.1 5.0 5.1

EuroChallenge

November also marks the start of the EuroChallenge season. As I mentioned in previous blog posts, EuroChallenge is the third tier men’s professional club competition in Europe. 32 teams from 20 countries are divided into 8 regular season round robin groups based on geography. Siauliai competes in Group H of the EuroChallenge along with Enisey (Russia), Tsmoki-Minsk (Belarus) and Usak (Turkey). The two finalists at the end of each season get promoted to the EuroCup, where clubs can then compete for a EuroLeague promotion (European NBA). Strong performance in the EuroChallenge attracts sponsors, providing clubs with financial means to attract the top international players.

Siauliai has started EuroChallenge round robin play a perfect 2-0, largely in part to the play of the twin towers. Ryan Olander leads the team in scoring at 19.5 while Tyler leads in rebounding at 5 per game. Worth mentioning- Ryan’s 76% from the field is good for third in the entire EuroChallenge. Here is a full stat line from the first two games:

Player G MIN FG-FGA FG% REB BL PTS EFF
R. Olander 2 25.5 19-24 79% 3.5 0.5 19.5 16
T. Olander 2 12.5 3-3 100% 5.0 0.0 5.5 7.5

Siauliai barely survived a November 4th contest against Enisey to open round robin play in Lithuania. Up eight with 4 minutes left, Enisey stormed back to tie the game with 30 seconds on the clock. Luckily, American Jonathan Lee (Northeastern) saved the day for the home team knocking down the go-ahead foul shot with 17 seconds remaining. Tyler Olander scored 5 of his 6 points in the fourth quarter and Ryan Olander poured in 16 points on 8-10 shooting in the 93-92 victory.

Watch the full game here.

Next, Siauliai traveled to Belarus for a matchup with fellow Group H member Tsmoki-Minsk. Ryan Olander contributed a game high 23 points on 11-14 shooting and Tyler Olander added 5 rebounds en route to a 94-91 win. As in any league at any level, road wins are especially impressive and can make all the difference come tournament time.

Watch the full game here.

The twin towers return to action tomorrow when they take on Usak-Sportif in Turkey. Usak is 1-1 in Group H play with a home win over Minsk followed by an 18 point blowout loss at the hands of Enisey. They are led by Americans Chris Warren (Mississippi), Courtney Fells (NC State) and Justin Carter (Creighton).  Siauliai is shooting a ridiculous 50% from behind the arc in EuroChallenge play and will look to add to their best start in history.

You can watch the game live on the FIBA Youtube channel at 6:30PM: https://www.youtube.com/FIBA

Check back for weekly updates…

Olander brothers reunited in Lithuania

Bc_šiauliai_logo_2

Ryan Olander has joined brother Tyler in Lithuania, agreeing to terms with BC Siauliai on a one year deal. Olander spent last season with Lietkabelis ( of the LKL/Baltic League), averaging 11 points/6 rebounds en route to his first LKL All Star game selection. In 13 Baltic League games, Olander averaged 8 points/6 rebounds and was named Eurobasket.com All-Baltic League Honorable Mention. Olander gives the club a versatile big man who can shoot from the outside yet still provide strength underneath, allowing Tyler to be used on the perimeter as a stretch power forward.

Siauliai won the Baltic League (BBL)  in 2014 and will compete this season in the LKL, BBL as well as Group H of the EuroChallenge. For those unfamiliar, EuroChallenge is the third tier men’s professional club competition in Europe, only behind EuroCup and Euroleague (Europe’s NBA)- all under the umbrella of FIBA Europe. 32 teams from 20 countries are divided into 8 regular season round robin groups based on geography. Other Group H members include Enisey (Russia), Tsmoki-Minsk (Belarus) and Usak (Turkey).  The two finalists at the end of each season get promoted to the EuroCup, where clubs can then vie for a Euroleague promotion.

Best of luck to Ryan and Tyler and stay tuned for the latest from Lithuania…

 

Tyler Olander signs in Lithuania

UCONN hotel post Championship

UCONN hotel post Championship in Dallas

Tyler Olander has joined his older brother in Lithuania, signing with BC Siauliai of the Lithuanian National League (LKL). Siauliai won the 2014 Baltic Basketball League (BBL) title this past season led by former Georgia Bulldog/Los Angeles Clipper Travis Leslie and former Fairfield guard Derek Needham. This season, Siauliai will compete in the EuroChallenge featuring teams from across Europe including Enel Brindisi, Jerome Dyson’s former club. Although Olander’s UCONN statistics do not stand out (2.8ppg/2.6rpg in 135 games), his willingness to play out of position resulted in two National Championships during his tenure. In doing so, he became only the third player in the storied history of UCONN men’s basketball to win multiple National Championships. In Europe, Olander will be used on the perimeter as a stretch 4- much more conducive to his style of play. Congratulations to Tyler and best of luck in Lithuania next season.