Sports in brief - 2011-10-27

  • 2011-10-26

Zalgiris Kaunas owner Vladimir Romanov is up to his old tricks, firing the team’s head coach Ilias Zouros and assistant coach Ilias Kantouris following an indifferent beginning to the season for Lithuania’s top basketball club. Romanov spent considerable sums of money in the off-season to acquire big name players from North America until the NBA lockout comes to an end, yet despite having one of the best rosters in Europe to work with, the Greek national coach was unable to get the team to gel as they struggled to beat inferior opponents in the Lithuanian domestic league and the Russian-based VTB league. Then, following an 87-74 loss to CSKA Moscow in the opening game of the Euroleague season on Oct. 17, Zouros was on his way out. Rumors had been rife that Lithuanian national team trainer Kestutis Kemzura would take over the reigns of the green and whites, but the 41-year-old denied the rumors instantly, claiming to the Lithuanian media that he had no desire to fill the position. Until a new trainer is found, Zalgiris sports director Vitoldas Masalskis has been left in control of the team. Zouros is just the latest in a long line of coaches that have come and gone from the club during the ownership period of Romanov. The most famous sacking of a coach came during the 2009/2010 season, when he fired Darius Maskoliunas during the Lithuanian domestic league playoffs, leaving the players to call their own plays.

Dinamo Riga look to have put a disappointing start to the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) season behind them, finally producing some promising results on a regular basis, the latest of which came on Sunday evening when they defeated current Western Conference leaders Dinamo Moscow, 5-2, in the Russian capital. Trailing 1-0 with 15 minutes to play in the game, Dinamo Riga unleashed a fury of goals, scoring five times in 10 minutes, shocking the team of former national team coach Olegs Znaroks. The win comes on the back of a 5-3 victory over Lev in Poprad, Slovakia on Friday. The men from Riga now sit on 20 points, four shy of the cutoff line for the playoffs in the Western Conference. Again prominent in both games was forward Mikelis Redlihs – one of three brothers playing for the Riga-based club. The 27-year-old leads the KHL in assists, having now made 16 in 16 games, as well as scoring four goals to give him 20 points to have him sitting one behind league leader Jakub Petruzalek of Amur. The maroon and whites next play on Thursday when they face Torpedo on the road.

Approximately 7,900 fans turned up at Arena Riga on Saturday evening for the eighth round of the 2011 FIM Freestyle MX World Championship Night of the Jumps. Although not competing in the main competition, local up-and-coming talent Martins Alexandrovics stirred the crowd into an early frenzy by putting on his own performance ahead of the main show, producing the first back flip of the night. When the main show began, it was Chile’s Javier Villegas leading the way, holding off Remi Bizouard of France and Josh Sheehan of Australia to claim top honors. The 20 points that Villegas walked away with from Riga now sees the Chilean leading the overall championship with 115 points – 23 clear of Bizouard, while Sheehan now moves into fourth position behind Jose Miralles of Spain. The riders have four weeks off before next returning to action in Ostrava in the Czech Republic, on Nov. 19. It has already been confirmed that Night of the Jumps will be returning to Riga in October next year.