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News / Baltic Handball League final four starting to appear
Baltic Handball League
Baltic Handball League final four starting to appear
Baltic Handball League 2nd round continues. Finnish Riihimäki Cocks may ensure their place in play-off after this weekend. One of the most interesting match will be in Põlva where two Estonian giants Põlva Serviti and HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper meet face-to-face.
Cocks who have been beated only once turning this season needs two points out of four remaining matches to ensure their place in final four. Turning this weekend Finnish will travel to Estonia to compete there with estonian clubs, at the last weekend of january they will host Latvians. „ I believe, that from this situation we will make it to the play-offs“ says Raivo Laast head coach of Cocks. „But we have to stay focused because the teams are even and every moment of weakness will be used by opponents.“
After a few weeks christmas holiday Cocks won a game against Vantaa Atlas by one point, but in different reasons some key players of Cocks were missing Kristo Järve, Teemu Tamminen and Theodotos Christou. „For Baltic League games we will have our best team together again“ says Laast. „Anyway, the last match showed that the short break have left its mark to players. At the moment we are trying to find our game, which we will find if not sooner then by the end of january.
Even the fact that Latvians are holding lower positions than Estonian clubs in table, Laast does not underestimate them at all. „Latvians did not play their best game in autumn and that is mostly because of injuries. Now they are getting better and better, proof for that is a LSPA draw against Dragunas,“ analises Laast and considered about Estonian clubs „Serviti is playing good and Kehra have found a good function between young and experienced players.“
Lithuanian clubs are having hard times
Klaipeda Zemaitijos Dragunas, team who had a great start of this season have got only one point out of last four matches, but still holding a second place in league table. Dragunas have two matches left, first on Saturday when they host Dobele Tenax who is currently holding last place in league table. „Win against Dobele doesn´t give us any advantage“ says Arturas Juškenas coach of Zemaitijos Dragunas. „In Latvia it´s going to be hard because many of our key players are injured.“
Troubles wiht injured players affected game against Riga LSPA on january the 9th already in Klaipeda. Although Dragunas had seven-goal lead turning the game the final result was draw 30-30. „I don´t even know if we won a point or lose one,“ says Juškenas. „Before the game I would been happy with a draw but in real we lost after having seven-goal lead. At the same time we still save a point for us.
Juškenas says that because of many players from starting seven are injured, young players will have a chance to prove theirselfs. „Game against LSPA shows that young players are not yet able to play the game stable from beginning to end, that’s why we had many up and downs in game.“ Remembers Juškenas.
Another Lithuanian club Vilnius Sviesa haven´t got any points from last five matches and because of that they are standing on a second last place in league table. Their next match is on 23rd of january against Tenax. Coach Evaldas Lipinskas belives that they still have a chance to win a place in final four. „We have to win all three remaining matches to gain a place in final four.“ Calculates Lipinskas. „If Cocks will win both Estonian clubs this weekend would be good for us.“
Game of the week Põlva vs Kehra
Most exciting match of the weekend will be between Põlva Serviti and HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper. In league table these teams are holding 3rd and 4th place before the match and the winner will get a good chance to gain a place in play-offs. Schedule of this season is composed in a way that in Estonian Championship game between these two was in wednesday in Kehra when hosters won a game 30:29. „Poor effort from us,“ summarise Kalmer Musting, head coach of Serviti, with one sentence. „We made a lot of mistakes and didn´t use our opportunities. Opponent offered us a win, but we didn´t even scored from a 7-meter line.“
Musting says that matches in Baltic League are more important than matches in Estonian Championship because both teams will end up in semi-finales anyway. „Game on friday is very important for getting closer to a place in final four but nothing just chances overnight. Anyway the good going which we had in december is not that good anymore, only few players at the head with Raido Peedoma haven´t give up.“
Serviti doesn´t get a long break because already on saturday they have a match against Cocks, to who they lost in the first round 29:35. „We could not manage with Kristo Järve and Valdar Noodla, in addition Janis Selge got injured,“ remembers Musting. „At the last time Teemu Tamminen was not playing, but it wasn´t very important because he is a player who doesn´t pass the ball very much. Advantage for Cocks are players who have played there for long time, slight minus – goalkeepers.“
Jüri Lepp coach of Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper doesen´t overvalue the win against Serviti on wednesday. „We have many young players in team, this means that team is still unstable,“ says Lepp. „At the moment they are in a good shape because five of our young players took part of juniors world championship qualifications. Next to young players we have older players with experience in good fit, so we hope to give a great battle to Serviti again.“
On sunday Kehra will host Cocks, which will be a another hard duel. „We have a lot of games in a short period so tiredness may start causing problems,“ predicted Lepp. „At the same time we don´t know the situation of Cocks, because they had a long break in Finland too. Clear is that for winning a place in final four we have to win at least one match in this weekend.“
Latvians fighting for a place in final four
Both Latvian teams are staying under final four line at the moment. If Dobele Tenax, who have lost all the games, is lost the hope to reach to play-offs then Riga LSPA is two points away from Kehra who is standing on the fourth place. LSPA-s next game is on the january 30th against Cocks. Because of this Latvians are hoping that Cocks will win both games in Estonia this weekend. „It´s good for us if Cocks will take points from Estonians,“ Didn´t hide hes hopes Andris Molotanovs head coach of LSPA. „But all is in our hands, because at the end of main tournament we are hosting Põlva and Kehra.“
LSPA kept hes final four hopes alive on the 9th of january, when they got a draw against Zemaitijos Dragunas 30:30. „We won a point because we were able to balance of seven points loss,“ was Molotanovs glad.
Leader of Latvian Championships Tenax is thinking more about domestic competition, but it doesn´t mean that they are not giving everything they can in Baltic League. „Our main goal is to win all the games left, as it has been always,“ says Ivars Zarins manager of Tenax. „In Baltic League everything went wrong from the beginning because constantly we have had three-four players injured and this have affected our team peformance.“
14.01. (at 18.00) Põlva Serviti – HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper
15.01. (at 14.00) Klaipeda Zemaitijos Dragunas – Dobele Tenax
15.01. (at 17.00) Põlva Serviti – Riihimäki Cocks
16.01. (at 14.00) HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper – Riihimäki Cocks
23.01. (at 15.00) Vilniuse VHC Sviesa – Dobele Tenax
29.01. (at 16.00) Riihimäki Cocks – Dobele Tenax
30.01. (at 14.00) Riihimäki Cocks – Riia LSPA
Standings: Riihimäki Cocks 14 (8-st mängust), Klaipeda Zemaitijos Dragunas 11 (10), Põlva Serviti 10 (8), HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper 9 (8), Riia LSPA 7 (8), Vilniuse VHC Sviesa 7 (9), Dobele Tenax 0 (7) punkti.
Top scorers: Andrei Ternovõi (Põlva Serviti) 65, Vaidas Trainavicius (Vilniuse VHC Sviesa) 62, Kristo Järve (Riihimäki Cocks) 56, Oskars Arajs (Riia LSPA) 54, Janis Selge (Põlva Serviti) 54, Martynas Zala (Vilniuse VHC Sviesa) 46, Artis Kurmens (Riia LSPA) 43, Karolis Stropus (Klaipeda Zemaitijos Dragunas) 41 väravat.