Sports in brief - 2011-11-24

  • 2011-11-24

Four Estonian men competed on Nov. 19 in the 15 km race at the opening International Ski Federation (FIS) Viessmann Cross Country World Cup event of the 2011/2012 season, held in Sjusjoen, Norway. However, in unseasonably warm weather in which the organizers were forced to make artificial snow for the event to go ahead, none of the four would prosper, all finishing well back in a field that was won by Sweden’s Johann Olsson of Sweden in a time of 32 minutes and 40.9 seconds. Aivar Rehemaa was the first of the Estonian’s home, finishing the race in 35th spot in a time of 34 minutes and 14.9 seconds. Finishing just outside the top 50, in 51st place in the 92-man field, was Karel Tammjarv in a time of 34 minutes and 29 seconds. Eeri Vahtra finished in 73rd in a time of 35 minutes and 16 seconds, whilst coming in at the rear of the field was Raido Rankel in a time of 35 minutes and 45.6 seconds. This weekend the racing will move on to Kuusamo in Finland where the men will compete in the sprint, 10 km and 30 km pursuit distances.
Latvian basketball club VEF Riga has taken advantage of the ongoing National Basketball Association (NBA) lockout in North America, acquiring the services of San Antonio Spurs small forward Da’Sean Butler on a two week trial basis beginning this week. The 23-year-old was picked 42nd overall by the Miami Heat in the 2010 NBA draft, following a successful college career at West Virginia where he was rated as one of the best basketball players in the college’s history. In his senior year in 2010, the New Jersey native averaged 17.2 points and 6.2 rebounds a game on his way to leading the team to the National Collegiate Athletics Association Final Four. There, however, his season would come to end when he injured his knee, not only damaging his health but also his draft prospects as the once potential first round pick all of a sudden became a potential liability for teams taking an interest in him. Despite still being picked up as a much lower option by the Heat, he would fail to make it out of summer training and was released by the team. In March of this year he signed with the Spurs, but with the season nearing its conclusion he would fail to see any court time. In his two week trial with VEF, Butler will take to the court in up to three competitions with the reigning domestic champions currently playing in the Latvian National League, the Russian-based VTB league and the second tier Europe-wide competition, the Eurocup. Butler was expected to arrive in Riga on Wednesday.
Latvian national basketball team point guard Janis Strelnieks has signed to play for leading Russian club Saint Petersburg Spartak. Up until now the 22-year-old has played out his entire professional career in Ventspils but has been attracting the attention of foreign clubs for a considerable time. The move will see the young star playing at a higher level of competition on a regular basis, with Spartak currently playing in the Russian domestic league, the Russian-based VTB League and Europe’s second tier club competition, the Eurocup. Currently at Ventspils, Strelnieks is only being exposed to Europe’s third tier competition, the Eurochallenge, the lower ranked Latvian domestic league, and the Baltic Basketball League (BBL). Despite his young age, the Talsi native already has compiled an impressive CV which includes winning a bronze medal with the Latvian U18 team at the European Championships in 2009, and in the same year also winning the Latvian Championship as part of the Ventspils team. Ventspils have moved quickly to fill the void left by Strelnieks, signing well-traveled American Todd Abernethy, who has already had stints in the Baltics with Estonian club Tartu Rock and Latvian team Barons Riga.