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News / Granitas-Karys the only team to take four points during BHL weekend
Baltic Handball League
Granitas-Karys the only team to take four points during BHL weekend
Despite last season's two top teams were not in action this weekend in Baltic Handball League, the two days offered top class handball and very tight matches. In five out of seven games played the result could have gone either way. The biggest winners of the weekend were maybe even surprisingly Granitas-Karys Kaunas, taking maximum four points.
Last season the former EHF/IHF Cup winners Granitas-Karys finished second from bottom of the Group B and in two seasons before that were eliminated in the quarter-finals. New season started with a one-goal defeat against VHC Šviesa Vilnius, followed by a narrow win over Viljandi HC and a clear defeat in the hands of Celtnieks Riga.
Goalkeeper and strong second halves the keys for Granitas-Karys
On Saturday, Granitas-Karys spent much of the game trailing at home against HC Tallinn, but with the help of their incredible goalkeeper Lukas Gurskis and aggressive defending in the second half managed to take a 29:27 (15:16) win. Karolis Dambrauskas scored eight goals for the winners and Kaspar Lees six for Estonian side.
The day later, Group B leaders HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper came to town and it was almost the same story. The Estonian club was on a 12-game winning streak in all competitions and led 14:11 at half-time. Gurskis was again one of the heroes, while Tadas Bučinskas and Modestas Štarolis scored seven goals, as did David Mamporia for Kehra with Granitas-Karys eventually winning 31:26.
Two Estonian sides had much better success in Vilnius. Kehra showed some excellent defending in the first half on Saturday and although Šviesa came back strong, it was Kehra who took their fourth BHL win of the season by 26:23 (12:5). Ukrainian playmaker Vladyslav Naumenko scored seven for Kehra and last season's BHL top scorer Karolis Antanavičius nine for the hosts.
Risto Lepp: definitely a point we won
It was opposite the day later, as Šviesa run away to a 13:7 lead against HC Tallinn, but the visitors put up a great fight and eventually the points were shared with a 23:23 (14:11) draw. Lees was again Tallinn's best with seven goals with Laurynas Palevičius scored one less for Šviesa.
"It was definitely a point we won, playing away against very strong Lithuanian league leader. I was very happy how the boys fought today until the end and how the players never let the team spirit drop. These BHL matches against strong opponents are hugely important for us," said Tallinn's head coach Risto Lepp.
Šviesa's captain Valdas Drabavičius was devastated commenting on club's website: "Poor, it was poor the whole weekend. Saturday was a tragedy and Sunday was not much better. The problem is in our attacking play, we move the ball around, but cannot score and instead make stupid mistakes losing the ball."
Elsewhere in Group B, there was the only one-sided match of the weekend in Riga, where local Celtnieks added two points to the table with a 38:22 (19:7) win over Viljandi HC. Belarussian playmaker Aliaksei Haisa scored nine goals for the winners and moved on top of the BHL scoring charts with 40 goals.
Tenax wins a 67-goal thriller
In the stronger group only two matches were played, but the Group A game on Saturday turned out to be a thriller of highest quality with Latvian and Lithuanian champions meeting in Dobele. It is better not to count how many times lead changed hands in this match between ZRHK Tenax and Dragunas Klaipeda, as it happened all the time.
The hosts had strong endings to both halves. In the first half Tenax turned 18:18 draw into 21:18 and at the end of the match Dragunas was leading 33:31 with four minutes to go, but Latvians still took a 34:33 victory. Aivis Jurdžs scored seven goals for the winners, while Žanas Gabrielius Virbauskas recorded the best individual score of the weekend with 11.
Two former BHL winners met in Minsk with hosts SKA starting well and taking a 7:3 lead. Serviti Põlva came back strong equalised to 8:8 in the 21st minute. However, SKA's goalkeeper Aliaksei Kishou became unbeatable at some point and in the course of the match saved four out five penalty throws.
SKA run away in the second half and took a 31:25 (13:10) victory, moving into sole lead of Group A. Yulian Hiryk and Siarhei Shylovich scored six for SKA with Henri Hiiend and Alfred Timmo on target four times for Serviti. "The stronger team won today, no question about that," commented Serviti's head coach Kalmer Musting.
On photo: Moment from the only drawn match of the weekend between VHC Šviesa Vilnius and HC Tallinn with Tallinn's new Icelandic playmaker Dadi Laxdal Gautason on the ball. (Photo: VHC Šviesa).