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Baltic Handball League
BHL Newsletter: Serviti returned Estonian Cup to Põlva
Last week was very much cup-related for the clubs of Baltic Handball League, but one postponed BHL match was also played, as Cocks Riihimäki and Dragunas Klaipeda met in Finland. It was a clean sweep by BHL clubs in the Estonian Cup Final Four with three top spots taken and Serviti Põlva emerging as the cup-winners.
Serviti had won the record 11 cup trophies in the past, but last year suffered a surprising defeat in the final to HC Tallinn. In this year's Final Four the semi-finals were quite one-sided, as Serviti defeated second division side Põlva/Arcwood 34:20 (Mathias Rebane 6 goals) and HC Tallinn took a 31:21 win over HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper (Markus Viitkar 7 – Vladyslav Naumenko 5).
Kalmer Musting: players had excellent attitude
In the final on Sunday, Serviti put up a great performance, determined not to lose for the second consecutive year. The defence was rock solid and the speed of attacks overwhelming. Serviti run away against Tallinn as 27:17 winners (Rebane 6 – Marko Slastinovski 6), claiming the cup for 12th time. Kehra won the bronze by beating Arcwood 26:24 (Naumenko, Indrek Normak and Sergio-Silver Kreegimaa 6).
"I have to congratulate and thank my players – they approached this weekend with excellent attitude and did everything absolutely perfectly. The speed we had turning defence into attack was fantastic. We also had leaders on the field in Eston Varusk and Alfred Timmo," commented Serviti's head coach Kalmer Musting.
It was a busy week in Estonia, as a league round was also held. Just two days before the cup Final Four, Serviti and Kehra met in a very tight league match, which ended in a 28:28 draw in Kehra (Naumenko 9 – Rebane 10).
Tallinn had an easier day on Wednesday, beating Aruküla/Audentes 39:21 (Dadi Laxdal Gautason 6). The fourth Estonian club in BHL, Viljandi HC also recorded a win, by 29:20 at home over SK Tapa (Aleksander Pertelson and Kristo Järve 7).
Cocks beats Dragunas in the postponed BHL match
Cocks Riihimäki returned to BHL competition after the adventures of EHF Champions League finished for the Finnish champions. On Saturday, Cocks was determined to get back to winning, as they had surprisingly lost on Wednesday in the Finnish Cup semi-final. BK-46 Karjaa managed to take a win in the second extra-time by 32:31 (Vitalie Nenita 6).
Saturday saw Cocks running off from the first minute. The BHL champion took a 4:0 lead and the closest Dragunas Klaipeda got to the title-holders was 12:10. Cocks was 17:13 ahead by half-time and added a third win of the season with 34:25 (Nico Rönnberg 7 – Deividas Virbauskas 8).
Dragunas also had Lithuanian Cup to play in midweek and it was a local derby against the second division side CSC Telecom-Memelis. First leg of the quarter-final ended in a clear 44:28 win for Dragunas (Lukas Vanagas 7), while giving a debut for just 15-year-old Tomas Drakšas in the process.
Two BHL teams met in another quarter-final clash. VHC Šviesa Vilnius won the opening leg against Granitas-Karys Kaunas by 30:26 (Karolis Antanavičius 13 – Modestas Štrolis 9) and even losing the second leg by 26:24, secured a place in the semi-finals.
Domestic winning run continued for SKA, Tenax and Celtnieks
It was as usual a very busy week in Latvian championship. ZRHK Tenax Dobele took two victories, beating Jurmalas Sports 41:16 (Nikita Pančenko 11) and HK Ogre 36:28 (Aivis Jurdžs 7), while Celtnieks Riga added two points by beating SK Latgols Ludza 39:31 (Aliaksandr Patcykailik 10).
SKA Minsk continued their great run in the domestic league, taking an away win over bottom-of-the-table HC Gomel by 37:28 (Uladzislau Kryvenka 12). SKA is leading with 24 points with HC Meshkov Brest having two points less and the two teams meeting this weekend.
The Ukrainian El Clasico took place on Sunday in Zaporozhye, as EHF Champions League side HC Motor and ZTR met. It was close, but ZTR could not overcome the defending champions. Eventually Motor won 35:32 (Oleksandr Tilte 9) and are the leaders of the Ukrainian league.
On photo: Serviti Põlva – winners of the 2019 Estonian Cup. (Photo: Helin Potter).