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Monday · 03/13/2017 · 10:16 · PR BHL

Baltic Handball League: The first Final Four team is SKA Minsk


Experienced Ivan Brouka led SKA Minsk once again to the Final4 of the Baltic Handball League
Photo: sportseye.de
Baltic Handball League`s quarter-finals are on the way and the first Final Four participant is alread known - SKA Minsk defeated Tenax Dobele over two quarter-finals with an aggregate score of 73:49. In the other quarter-final, which started past weekend, nothing is decided, as HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper took only a minimal advantage over Serviti Põlva by 27-26. The remaining five the quarter-final matches will be played this week, starting on Friday.

Belarussians made it to top four for fifth consecutive season

Three-time winners SKA secured their place among the four best teams relatively easily by taking a 9-goal advantage in the first game and then making it sure with a 15-goal win on the following day. SKA had also defeated Tenax in the same phase of the competition last season.

In the opening match of the quarter-final stage Tenax fought well in the first half and kept SKA at a certain distance, losing it 12-16. At the start of the second half, SKA"s Uladzislau Kulesh and Vadim Gayduchenko, supported by veteran Ivan Brouka guided Belarussians to a more secure lead and by the end SKA took a 34-25 victory (Gayduchenko 10 - Ansis Bilkštis 8 goals).

On Sunday, it was more clear. SKA ran away to a 18-9 half-time lead, claimed the second win by 39-24 (Aliaksandr Padshyvalau 7 - Intars Jomants 6) and qualified for the Final Four for the fifth consecutive season.

Kehra took a minimal advantage in Estonian derby

The opening leg of the all-Estonian quarter-final was nothing like the SKA - Tenax matches. "Old enemies" put up a great fight in Kehra and everything will be decided next Saturday in Põlva. The visitors made a better start, had a 4-goal lead, but the end of the first half belonged to Kehra and at half-time they had a 15-12 lead.

"All worked well, our game plan clicked immediately, but midway through the first half it all fall apart. We could not score and opponents hit us with quick counter-attacks. Both goalkeepers were excellent, especially in the first half," explained Serviti`s head coach Kalmer Musting, while praising his own goalkeeper Eston Varusk and Kehra"s Mikola Naum for their performances.

Early in the second half, Kehra already had a 5-goal lead, but Serviti fought back, despite missing 4 out of 5 penalty throws in the match. With ten seconds to go, Serviti cut the deficit to a minimum, leaving all open before the return leg next Saturday. Marko Slastinovski scored 8 goals for the winners, while Henri Sillaste was Serviti"s best with 6.

"We had a terrible start, but improved greatly. However, we cannot be happy with just one-goal win, as there were possibilities for a much bigger one," commented Priit Pajus, who replaced Indrek Lillsoo as Kehra"s head coach for this match. "Naum had a great game in goal and I was happy Dmytro Yankovskiy returned from injury earlier than expected and helped us."

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