BK Ventspils, a traditional powerhouse on their home court, is out to make a statement in the second-best competition in Europe after the Latvian champs came up short in the Euroleague qualifying round.
Few teams have dominated their domestic competitions over the last decade like Latvian powerhouse BK Ventspils, which last year bounced back from a couple of slow seasons to get back to where it had been from the late 1990s to the middle of this decade when it won seven league titles in a row. Ventspils went from little-known to a regular ULEB Cup team for five seasons, getting as far as the quarterfinals in 2005. During its impressive run, the club went 25-5 on its home floor, knocking off some of the top teams on the continent. Ventspils was founded just 17 years ago and already reached the Latvian League finals in 1998 and again in 1999. For the next seven seasons, from 2000 through 2006, no team in Latvia was able to knock Ventspils from its throne – until ASK Riga did it in 2007.
Ventspils’s success has carried over in international competitions too, reaching third place in the 2002 NEBL and in the 2003 FIBA Champions Cup. While it kept rolling it Latvia, Ventspils went one step higher by joining the ULEB Cup in 2003-04. Its first ULEB Cup season was impressive, as it went 7-3 in the regular season and fell in the eighthfinals against Reflex. Ventspils came back stronger in the 2004-05 season, winning its regular season group and rallying from a 16-point first-leg deficit to knock off RheinEnergie in the eightfinals. However in the quarterfinals, Hemofarm defeated the Latvian powerhouse by a single point. Ventspils already had a reputation of being unbeatable at home, and it showed it in 2005-06 by winning all of its regular season home games to advance to the elimination rounds. Once again, Ventspils was knocked off by 1 point, this time against Landi Renzo in the eighthfinals. Ventspils won its seventh consecutive Latvian title that year while making it to the new Baltic League final six. Ventspils was unable to lift the Latvian League trophy in either of the last two seasons, but just when it seemed that the dynasty was over, it all changed again for the best last season. Ventspils became the Latvian League regular season champion and claimed back the title in an exciting seven-game finals series against defending champion Barons/LMT. Ventspils came close to making history early this season as youngsters Dairis Bertrans and Janis Strelnieks threatened to knock off Benetton Treviso in the Euroleague qualifying rounds, but were unable to hold their lead in the second leg in Italy. Nonetheless, with rising young stars and a serious home-court advantage, Ventspils arrives to the Eurocup ready to take a few more steps forward as one of Europe’s most promising clubs.
|Latvian National Championship
1999/00, 2000/01, 2001/02, 2002/03, 2003/04, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2008/09