Tallinn ballin`: welcome Kalev/Cramo!
Kalev/Cramo is the third club from Estonia to play in the European North basketball league alongside Tartu University/Maks&Moorits and TalTech Optibet.
Last season the Estonian giants played in four competitions – Korvpalli Meistriliiga, Pafbet Estonia and Latvia league, VTB United league and Basketball Champions league.
Kalev/Cramo won the Champions league qualifying tournament held on September 13-17, 2021.
The Estonians beat Sporting Lisbon from Portugal, Mornar Bar from Montenegro and Juventus Utena from Lithuania to qualify for the regular season.
Kalev/Cramo was drawn into Group F against Tofaš Bursa, SIG Strasbourg and Filou Oostende.
Tallinn team won at Bursa and prevailed over Tofaš on the home court too but lost in the remaining four games and didn`t qualified for the next round.
Kalev/Cramo posted a famous 67-56 home win over Euroleague team CSKA Moscow on November 1, 2021.
Three and a half months later Estonians withdrew from the competition after Russia launched a full scale war against Ukraine.
The last stretch of the season turned into a failure.
Kalev/Cramo lost the Estonia-Latvia league quarterfinal series against Parnu Sadam (60-67 at home, 57-76 on the road) and did qualified for the Final Four.
Tallinn team blew a 2-0 lead in the Meistriliiga semifinals against Parnu Sadam and suffered a 2-3 defeat to miss the Estonian finals for the first time since 2010.
It was a time for rebuilding.
The club parted ways with the head coach – and 2021 Estonian-Latvian league champion – Roberts Štelmahers.
Kalev/Cramo then signed a 2+1 deal with Heiko Rannula – the assistant coach of the Estonia national team and a former head coach of Parnu (2014-2022).
Rannula is the three time Estonia champion – twice as a player with Tartu and recently as a coach of Parnu.
Kalev/Cramo added a new assistant coach too – Brett Nõmme, a former coach of Tallinn Kalev.
Nõmme was a former teammate of Rannula at Parnu.
Assistant coach Indrek Reinbok stayed with the team.
Kalev/Cramo added some new players early on – forward Taavi Jurkatamm from Viimsi Sportland, Ukrainian point guard Oleksandr Kovliar from Tartu, a 19 year old Hugo Toom and a 22 year old forward Artur Konontšuk.
Kristjan Kitsing has a valid contract from last season.
Kalev/Cramo extended the deals with Tanel Kurbas and Martin Dorbek.
Dorbek will enter his 11th season with the Tallinn team.
Kalev/Cramo then added American point guard Alterique Gilbert, who became the Estonian champion with Parnu.
Gilbert played for the NCAA powerhouse UConn and finished his student athlete career at Wichita State University.
Wes Van Beck is another American guard in Tallinn`s lineup.
The University of Houston standout has played in the NBA G league side South Bay Lakers, Colombia and Spanish second division.
Tallinn strengthened its frontcourt with Latvian duo – a long time national team center Mārtiņš Meiers and a young gun Zigmārs Raimo.
Power forward played for Hawaii University and started his professional career at Pieno Žvaigzdes Pasvale in the Lithuania basketball league.
Guard Kaspar Kitsing also signed the deal.
Kalev/Cramo will face Cedevita Junior in the quarterfinals of the FIBA Europe Cup at Jonava, Lithuania, on Tuesday, September 27.
Estonian team need three wins in order to advance to the FIBA Europe Cup regular season.