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News / Baltic Handball League second round starts this week
Baltic Handball League
Baltic Handball League second round starts this week
The first leg of the second round of Baltic Handball League 2010 will get underway this week, when Lithuanians will travel to visit their northern neighbours Estonians and Finns. In addition to these matches both Latvian teams will meet each other in Dobele.
In the first weekend of second round both Lithuanian teams will tour in Estonia and Finland. Titleholder Põlva Serviti has met both Lithuanian teams abroad once, when they defeated VHC Sviesa 34:30 but lost to Klaipeda Zemaitijos Dragunas 24:26. HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper has scored only one point so far against both Lithuanian teams, as they scored a draw against VHC Sviesa 25:25, but lost against Dragunas 26:28. Finnish champions Riihimäen Cocks came back from their early september tour from Lithuania with 2 points, scoring a 31:21 win against VHC Sviesa and lost to Zemaitijos Dragunas 29:36.
Lithuanians facing a long trip to Estonia and Finland
Lithuania’s reigning champions Zemaitijos Dragunas has defeated all of this week’s opponents. „At the moment our position in standings is very good, but we are facing tough tour and we would like to score at least two points,“ told Zemaitijos Dragunas head coach Arturas Juškenas. „Team’s present condition is not the best, because we have had too many games recently. During last week we played EHF Cup Winners’ Cup matches against Norwegian club Elverum and lost on both occasions. Our instability is indicated by the fact that we performed poorly in our home game, but did a decent job in away match in Norway. "
According to Juškenas the main goal is to advance into Final4 tournament. „We will play the last preliminary round matches at home and that gives us a slight advantage over other teams,“ Juškenas added. „Baltic Handball League is very important for us, because we get good quality games. Before the start of the season I was not expecting that we would do so well in BHL, because Estonians have professional teams, however our team has only very young players. So now we are very committed to BHL and already made plans for the forthcoming season. Therefore we have backed up a little bit in Lithuanian league and that has led us into few suprising losses on domestic soil. But then again, play-off starts in spring and we haven’t lost anything yet.“
Third place holder VHC Sviesa coach Evaldas Lipinskas thinks that the forthcoming weekend will be crucial for them. „This weekend will be very tough for us, because we have to take a long journey to face Estonians and Finns. We took just one point against this weekend’s opponents and this time I would like to score at least one win. To achieve this, we have to play flawlessly, because mistakes at this level will be very costly.”
Lithuania’s league leaders VHC Sviesa is mostly committed to their domestic campaign this season. „We have a very young team, so our aim is to achieve Top 3 in domestic campaign and get experience from Baltic Handball League. I hope that we are top team in the forthcoming BHL season.“
Estonian clubs desperately need more points
Estonian teams Põlva Serviti and HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper are located on the playoff line in the standings, only both Latvian teams are behind them. Therefore this week’s matches will be very important and decisive.
„We have rcorded our first round matches against Lithuanian teams and we know a lot more about them now,“ said Põlva Serviti head coach Kalmer Musting. „Klaipeda is a very strong and powerful team, Sviesa’s weakness is their backcourt players. We are dealing with teams who are both playing fast and are defending agressively. Lithuanian style of handball has always been vigorous, therefore a lot depends on the referees.“
Musting added that he is not satisfied with fourth place in the standings. "We have not demonstrated our true level," he analyzed. “So far we have had only two home games against the Latvians, but those matches got into our recession period when had too many injuries. Recent meetings have shown, however, that we are on the rise and are now seriously after for more points.”
Kehra has had very tight schedule during recent week, since they played EHF Cup Winners’ Cup matches against FIF Copenhagen from Denmark, which they lost on both occasions. Thus Estonian league leaders have a great hunger for winning and their position in the standings does not allow any more blunders. “We desperately need more wins, because our initial goal is to reach into playoffs, “ said HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper head coach Jüri Lepp and anlyzed their forthcoming opponents: „ Lithuanian teams are hasarted, aggressive, they fight til the end and both lineups are composed with young players.“
According to Lepp, HC Kehra had the opportunity to score more than just one point during their trip to Lithuania. „ In Klaipeda the determing factor was home court advantage, in Vilniuas we had all the cards in our hands, but we played down our own opportunities to win the game,“ said Jüri Lepp. „In recent matches we have performed poorly during last minutes of the playing time and this is due to the fact that our team is lacking experience.
Cocks will meet Klaipeda in the leaders duel, while both Latvian teams will meet in Dobele
BHL shared leaders Riihimäen Cocks has been defeated only once, against Zemaitijos Dragunas, whom they meet for the second time this Sunday, a day earlier they will host VHC Sviesa. According to the team's coach Raivo Laast their table position is unduly exaggerated. “Baltic Handball League teams are on equal level,” assessed Laast. “Games have been very equal and injuries have been in important role, especially in Serviti and Latvian teams.”
Laast does not expect easy walk against Sviesa and Dragunas. “Dragunas has very sharp backcourt players, Sviesa not. “ Thus Sviesa fits us better,” compared Laast their opponents and described the situation in their team: “As one of our leaders Teemu Tamminen has been injured for a very long period, we have been playing more as a team. Honestly, Kristo Järve has been scoring more goals recently, but in the past, he was a man with good passes to his teammates. Kristo is a very versatile player.”
In the first game of the second round both Latvian teams Dobele Tenax and HK LSPA will meet in Dobele. The reigning Latvian champions have scored 4 points, while Dobele Tenax has still not scored a single point yet.
During their first round face-off HK LSPA won 30:20, but in their domestic league match between those two teams Tenax Dobele scored a win. However, according to HK LSPA head coach Andris Molotanovs this result had own reasons: „A few days earlier we defeated Dobele by 15 goals and this made my players drowsy,“ Molotanovs criticised his players. „This time we are ready, as our physical condition is good and, moreover, our target is to play in playoffs. Last season we were third in BHL and we would not like to be worse this year.“
Dobele Tenax has scored 0 points so far and according to club president Ivars Zarins the train has long gone for them. „We have struggled with injuries throughout the season. All of this began in the early meetings in Estonia,” recalled Zarins earlier events. “We are still missing five of our first team players through injuries, but we are not gonna give up without a fight. Since we do not have any chance of succeeding in BHL, we are more concentrated on our domestic campaign, where we have only one loss against ASK Riga, which was also mainly caused by injuries.”
01.12. (19.00) Dobele: Dobele Tenax – Riia LSPA
03.12. (19.00) Põlva: Põlva Serviti – Klaipeda Zemaitijos Dragunas
03.12. (19.00) Kehra: HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper – Vilniuse VHC Sviesa
04.12. (16.00) Kehra: HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper – Klaipeda Zemaitijos Dragunas
04.12. (16.00) Riihimäki: Riihimäki Cocks – Vilniuse VHC Sviesa
05.12. (14.00) Riihimäki: Riihimäki Cocks – Klaipeda Zemaitijos Dragunas
05.12. (17.00) Põlva: Põlva Serviti – Vilniuse VHC Sviesa
Standings after 6 matches: Klaipeda Zemaitijos Dragunas 10, Riihimäki Cocks 10, Vilniuse VHC Sviesa 7, Põlva Serviti 6, HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper 5, Riia LSPA 4, Dobele Tenax 0 points.
Top scorers: Kristo Järve (Riihimäki Cocks) 43, Andrei Ternovõi (Põlva Serviti) 42, Vaidas Trainavicius (Vilniuse VHC Sviesa) 41, Janis Selge (Põlva Serviti) 39, Oskars Arajs (Riia LSPA) 33, Olev Eensalu (HC Kehra/Horizon&Pulp Paper) 33, Artis Kurmens (Riia LSPA) 32, Remigijus Vaicikauskas (Klaipeda Zemaitijos Dragunas) 32, Kaupo Liiva (HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper) 27, Martynas Zala (Vilniuse VHC Sviesa) 26, Roman Glinkin (HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper) 26, Karolis Stropus (Klaipeda Zemaitijos Dragunas) 26 goals.
BHL press office