Less than a week after HC Dragunas Klaipeda defeated Granitas-Karys Kaunas in the Lithuanian Cup final, the two teams meet again. Baltic Handball League resumes with two matches between Lithuanian clubs. Besides the cup final “replay”, two top teams of the domestic championships clash, as Varsa-Stronglasas Alytus hosts VHC Šviesa Vilnius.
Obviously it is not easy to keep any sports event running in the current circumstances, especially a cross-border competition. But BHL is doing its utmost to continue, while keeping people safe. The season resumes with two matches in Lithuania, which are very important to all four teams.
Last weekend Lithuanian Cup’s Final Four was staged in Garliava with three BHL teams involved. HC Dragunas Klaipeda beat domestic league leaders VHC Šviesa Vilnius in the semi-final by 34:32 (17:17) and in an even tighter match Granitas-Karys Kaunas overcame a first-half deficit to beat HC Vilnius 31:30 (12:15).
In the final it was close until midway through the second half, but then Dragunas broke away and eventually won 34:29 (15:15). Žanas Gabrielius Virbauskas was the top scorer with eight goals and his brother Deividas won the MVP award. Paulius Šarkauskas and Arminas Stankunas scored seven goals for Granitas.
“It was very tough, the whole weekend. Considering that we are not playing the usual amount of matches due to the pandemic, it was difficult to play two matches in two days. Especially as on Saturday we had to fight until final seconds. But of course we are very happy to come out with the trophy,” commented Arturas Juškenas, Dragunas’ head coach.
“And now we have exactly the same opponent again. The match is in my eyes not less important than the cup final. It will count both in the Lithuanian league and in BHL and we desperately need points in both competitions. So we are preparing very seriously,” added Juškenas.
Dragunas and Granitas-Karys have already met once in BHL this season, as back in October in Klaipeda the hosts took a fairly comfortable 39:30 victory. Dragunas is currently third in BHL standings, four points behind leaders Serviti Põlva, but have two matches in hand.
In the other match on Saturday, the importance is as high. VHC Šviesa Vilnius and Varsa-Stronglasas Alytus have both 17 points in the Lithuanian league, while in BHL standings they have respectively nine and seven points from just six matches.
Back in October the two teams produced a thrilling match in Vilnius. Varsa-Stronglasas was at best seven goals up in the first half, but Šviesa came back and took the lead in the second. The match ended 29:29 – the only draw in this season’s BHL.
On photo: Dragunas and Granitas-Karys have just met in the Lithuanian cup final. On Saturday the teams clash in BHL. (Photo: Lithuanian Handball Federation).