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Baltic Handball League
BHL Newsletter: BHL players in form for national teams
During the international week all six countries involved in Baltic Handball League had their respective national teams in action. Finland started their 2021 World Championship qualifying campaign with a defeat and a win, Estonia was eliminated in Turkey, Belarus took two friendly wins over Lithuania, Latvia won and lost against Luxembourg, while Ukraine capitulated twice in Tunisia.
In the meantime, there was just one of the twelve BHL clubs in action, as VHC Šviesa Vilnius played the opening leg in the Lithuanian Cup's last 16. Despite missing the national team players, Šviesa beat HC Moletai 39:32 (Tadas Rasakevičius and Taurintas Markiavičius 6 goals).
Finland started the 2021 World Championship qualifying campaign in Group 2 losing away to Israel 33:32, but bounced back quickly and four days later defeated Cyprus at home 30:20. Cocks Riihimäki's star player Nico Rönnberg was Finland's best and scored seven goals in both matches.
Estonia started and finished the matches in 2021 World Championship Group 4. In a three-team tournament in Eskisehir, Estonia lost 33:29 to Turkey and 25:20 to Belgium. Thomas Sivertsson's team included seven players from HC Tallinn and Serviti Põlva, but it was the 2008 BHL champion Mait Patrail – now playing for Bundesliga leaders TSV Hannover-Burgdorf – who scored 17 goals for Estonians over two games.
The national team of Belarus included seven players from SKA Minsk, plus Yury Lukyanchuk from Cocks. In the opening match they destroyed Lithuania by 45:25 with SKA's Siarhei Shylovich scoring six goals. The day later, Belarus won 30:27 and this time Šviesa's Valdas Drabavičius was the best scorer, recording eight goals for Lithuania.
Preparing for the EURO 2020 finals, Latvia travelled to Luxembourg for a training camp with the squad including no fewer than ten players from five different BHL clubs. Cocks' Nils Kreicbergs was in form, as he scored 16 goals over two matches. Latvia beat Luxembourg 33:27 (Kreicbergs and HC Kehra's Uvis Strazdinš 6) and then lost the second match by 28:26 (Kreicbergs 10).
Ukraine was also travelling and had four ZTR Zaporozhye players in their team, when the reigning African champion Tunisia hosted friendly matches and won twice – 25:20 and 29:27. ZTR's Oleksandr Tilte scored four goals in the second match.
On photo: Having won the BHL back in 2008 and playing now for Bundesliga leaders TSV Hannover-Burgdorf, Mait Patrail scored 17 goals for Estonia in World Championship qualifiers. (Photo: Helin Potter).