medi bayreuth has managed to pull off another master stroke on the penultimate matchday of the group phase in the Basketball Champions League. The Heroes Of Tomorrow defeated champions Umana Reyer Venezia by 89:81 to not only chalk up their eighth win in the BCL this season, but also the better aggregate against Venice.
That means the question of which clubs from Group C will join the Turkish side Banvit BK in the last 16 has still not been resolved. Five clubs still have the chance to capture one of the remaining three playoff spots. Who advances will be decided this Tuesday, when medi bayreuth (21 points) plays AEK Athens (20) on the road in the Greek capital on the 14th and final matchday. Banvit (22) will host SIG Strasbourg (21) and Estudiantes (21) will be away against Venice (20) at the same time.
Although the visitors from Venice have the reputation of being one of the Basketball Champions League’s weakest teams from the three-point line, they were able to go ahead for the first time with a bucket from beyond the arc. However, the Heroes Of Tomorrow were in accurate form downtown from the outset: The three to make it 27:18 in the eighth minute was already their fifth bucket from outside – and they were scored by four different players (Gabe York, Bastian Doreth, Nate Linhart and James Robinson). After the visitors called a timeout, De’Mon Brooks extended the lead to double digits for the first time with a three-point play.
medi was initially able to stretch the gap in the second period, but then Venice got better into the game. Greater focus in defense and more tenacity in attack enabled the visitors to close the deficit to 31:39 – much to the dislike of Head Coach Raoul Korner, who called a timeout. Venice was then able to make several and ones, while Marquez Haynes added a slam-dunk to cut the gap to 40:44. With just over two minutes left in the half, Bruno Cerella even put Venice back in front with a three. However, medi also drained a further three-pointer, as James Robinson gave it a narrow 51:49 lead at the break.
Shortly after the restart, Mitchell Watt – one of the visitors’ key players – conceded his fourth personal foul. That released energy among Bayreuth’s ranks again: The Heroes Of Tomorrow were now solid again in defense and their shots dropped at the other end. A bucket from beyond the arc by Linhart made it 62:53 in the 24th minute, forcing Venice to call a timeout. medi then controlled the game until the end of the period – the visitors were able to catch up and cut the gap a little to 63:69 only in the final minute.
The tension really grew again when Stefano Tonut first blocked a shot from Bastian Doreth and then went the whole length of the court to tie the scores at 69:69. The Italian player was fouled in doing so, but he missed the bonus free throw and so failed to extend his side’s run of eight points without reply. Assem Marei struck back immediately by recapturing the lead, which Seiferth extended to eight points (81:73) with a slam-dunk in the 37th minute. medi bayreuth then played well and cleverly as a team at the death and so did not let Venice get any closer.