From Ventspils To Vegas And Back

02 October 2013
6. Janis Timma (BK Ventspils)
Janis Timma will return to Ventspils this season full of confidence after being drafted to the NBA at the start of summer

On the 27th of May, Janis Timma was in all likelihood feeling dejected after he and his Ventspils teammates had just lost the Latvian League finals to VEF Riga. Move on exactly one month and it was an all different set of emotions that the then 20-year-old was experiencing.

"I was in Las Vegas in a hotel room talking with my family and friends and I already knew that if the Memphis Grizzlies would not sell their two last picks they would pick me up last in the draft," Timma told, referring to the 2013 NBA Draft.

"I was always in contact with my agent and he said that, ‘probably they will not draft you, because they will sell the pick.'

"At that time I was a little bit scared but after 30 seconds I had a call on the second line from my American agent and he said that you are drafted.

"Online it was still the 58th pick but I already knew I was going to the Memphis Grizzlies. At that moment I could not believe it. At that moment I did not want to tell mum or my dad..."

With the 60th and final pick, Timma became just the third Latvian to be drafted into the NBA.

But there was not too much time to celebrate.



Instead, it was a return to home to begin putting in the hard yards in order to gain a spot on the Latvian 12-man roster for EuroBasket.

But this ambition would be dashed early when a nasal inflammation resigned Timma to watching the warm-up process from the sidelines and, ultimately, the Championship from home.

"I think they did a pretty good job," says Timma of the efforts of Latvia at EuroBasket, where they surprised many by reaching the Second Round, only to have their quarter-final hopes dashed, saving their worst for last by losing to Belgium on the final day of Second Round action.

"I am proud of them and of course it was sad to watch the most important game [vs. Belgium] where nothing went right for them and they were not able to make their shots.

"I think one reason that they lost was because they did not have Kaspars Berzins (the starting power forward was out injured) and they lost a lot of important balls under the net. If Berzins had been there, they could have played the pick-and-roll when they were not making their threes and they could have looked more to their post game and inside game.

"We have a young team with young guys and you can concentrate and play against the great opponents (like France) but when you enter a game knowing you must win it then the concentration changes."



"It was similar with Ventspils," reflects Timma when questioned if a young team and concentration were partly responsible for his team's halted progression in the EuroChallenge last season.

Strolling through the Regular Season undefeated, Ventspils were rightfully considered contenders for the Final Four.

However, in the Second Round the wheels began to fall of their campaign, winning just two of six games, finishing a win shy of going to the quarter-finals.

"But [being inexperienced] it was not an excuse for what happened to us and I hope that this season we will not make the same bad decisions and the same bad mistakes and everything will be great."



6. Janis Timma (BK Ventspils)
"I am not at my full potential in terms of shape but I am not in such a bad shape either as I have been working all summer," says Timma who missed out on the Latvia national team due to illness

Over his illness, Timma is now back into action with Ventspils as the NBA dreams, for now, remain a pipe dream.

Over the weekend he picked up 7.5 points and 7.5 rebounds-a-game at the season-opening Baltic Basketball League (BBL) Cup, helping his team to third spot.

"I am not at my full potential in terms of shape but I am not in such a bad shape either as I have been working all summer," admits the forward.

"I get tired a little bit quickly but I will be good. I am a young guy and my body is still young and I can do it."

Easing himself back into the game, Timma is clear about the ambitions of Ventspils this season in Europe.

"The goal for the EuroChallenge is to make the play-offs but it is difficult to say right now as I have not seen the teams we will play against and I have not seen opponents.

"But I know having seen my team that we can do big things and if we do what coach (Roberts Stelmahers) says and play his set plays and listen to the scouting of the other teams then we can do big things in the EuroChallenge."



Of course, being drafted into the NBA was one thing. Now making it on to the court is a whole different goal.

A goal that will remain in the back of the mind of Timma as his club season on the Baltic coastline plays out.

"They said I have a great shot and I need to make these shots and I think this is the main thing I need to work on - my concentration to make the same shots in the game that I am making at training.

"They really like me mentally and physically and I hope I will make it."



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