Sports in brief - 2012-03-22

  • 2012-03-21

Senegalese native Bambale Fall, who plays for Estonian basketball club Kalev/Cramo, has finally been given some reprieve by Latvian authorities who, after months of wrangling, have issued the 7-foot-1-inch center a temporary visa allowing him to join his team to play VEF Riga in their Baltic Basketball League (BBL) best-of-three quarter-final series beginning in Saldus, Latvia on Thursday. With Latvian authorities not recognizing Senegal passports as valid travel documents, Fall has faced an ongoing battle with Latvian authorities this season, who to date have refused the key member of the Tallinn-based club the right to transit through Latvia whenever his team play BBL games in Lithuania or fly out of Riga International Airport to play games in the Russian-based VTB League. Of course, Fall has also had to forgo playing in any games his team play in Latvia. This, despite the fact Fall is also the holder of a Schengen visa. The Latvian authorities lay the blame solely on Senegalese authorities, of whom they claim to have sent numerous reminders to send the correct papers in order to get the situation sorted, but claim to have not yet received anything back from the West African state. However, the Latvian authorities have finally shown a softer side, last week offering the 25-year-old a lifeline in the form of a special visa that allows Fall to travel to Latvia twice, should a third game be required to decide the series in the BBL quarter-final series.

A prognosis to explain the fatigue being experienced by leading Estonian cyclist Rein Taaramae has been arrived upon, with the 24-year-old diagnosed with a mononucleosis infection, more commonly known as glandular fever. The rider for the French-based Cofidis team began complaining of tiredness in the build-up to the Paris-Nice race a fortnight ago. Despite his complaints, Taaramae still entered the race, beginning the week strongly with a 10th placing on the fourth stage. However, by the completion of the eighth and final stage, Taaramae, who finished fourth in the same race in 2011, had faded significantly, completing the tour in 87th overall. This week the reigning Estonian time trial champion had been scheduled to compete in the Volta a Catalunya, but has instead been sent back to Estonia to rest for at least 10 days. Mononucleosis can affect people from anywhere between three weeks and three months, potentially putting the Tartu native’s hopes of winning the white jersey as the best youth rider at this year’s Tour de France in jeopardy.

Lithuanian basketball club Zalgiris Kaunas has moved into the eighth-quarter-finals of the Russian-based VTB League at the expense of Latvian club VEF Riga, whom they dismantled 93-56 on Sunday afternoon. With both teams going into the final Group A game of the regular season with an eight-win, seven-loss record, only one of the two teams could advance to the next stage of the competition. Playing in front of their home fans, the Lithuanian champions left few in doubt as to who it would advance, outscoring their hosts 31-10 in the opening quarter to give themselves a lead that never came under threat for the remainder of the game. Having finished third in the same tournament in 2010, Zalgiris last year failed to advance from group play. In the final eight, the greens will be joined by fellow Lithuanian club Lietuvos Rytas, who ended the group stage in third position in corresponding Group B. In the eighth-quarter-finals Zalgiris take on Russian club Lokomotiv in a home-and-away series beginning on April 8, whilst Lietuvos Rytas face Niznhy Novgorod with the first leg game also set to be played on April 8.