s.Oliver Würzburg failed to decide the neighborhood tussle for a playoff berth in its favor. The club from Lower Franconia lost 72:78 in Frankfurt on the 23rd matchday of the easyCredit German Basketball League. Frankfurt’s Philipp Scrubb not only won the duel of the league’s top scorers against Robin Benzing by notching up 31 points. The 25-year-old American was also the key player on the court of the Fraport Arena in the tense final spell.
As in the encounter between the two at the end of December, the 3-point field goal percentage was a crucial factor in the tussle between the River Main neighbors. A paltry nine percent of Würzburg’s shots from beyond the arc hit their mark – unlike in the 81:64 win in the s.Oliver Arena, when the home side chalked up a strong 63 percent of shots made from outside. Maurice Stuckey drained the first of just two successful three-pointers by Würzburg to make it 6:5 in the fourth minute. Stuckey played strongly in the opening spell and had already bagged a haul of eight points, but was forced to retire with a calf injury before the end of the first period.
By that time, the home side was 16:12 ahead in a game that was fiercely contested by both sides – as evidenced by the fact that more than half of the total of 28 points in the first quarter were added from the foul line. The visitors’ initial problems in scoring from the floor meant that they had notched up just 12 points after 12 minutes. However, that was soon to change after Head Coach Dirk Bauermann called a timeout with the score at 20:12. Thanks to their strongest spell in defense in the encounter, the visitors gained the upper hand more and more and now also finished their attacks well directly at the basket. E.J. Singler added two lay-ups in succession after fast breaks to give s.Oliver Würzburg a narrow lead for the first time (27:26 in the 18th minute).
It was then Miles Jackson-Cartwright who scored his first points in the easyCredit German Basketball League with a buzzer-beating jump shot to bring an intensely contested first 20 minutes to a close with the score at 29:33. Jackson-Cartwright, who usually scores a average of more than 18 points a game for Würzburg’s farm team in the ProB division, was also a key asset after the break. On his debut in the German league, the 25-year-old finished with 13 points, four rebounds and three assists in his just under 25 minutes on court.
However, the home side turned on the pressure again at the beginning of the second half. Frankfurt started the third period with a 7:0 run to make it 36:33 and was then able to open up an eight-point gap. The encounter remained a to-and-fro affair after that: s.Oliver Würzburg first reduced the deficit to 50:49 in the 31st minute, then the Skyliners pulled away again to 57:49. It was then that Würzburg’s “Minister of Defense” Clifford Hammonds fouled out. “Today was probably the first time in his career he’s committed five fouls. That hurt us greatly because it let Frankfurt set up Phil Scrubb better,” said Dirk Bauermann afterwards.
Nevertheless, his team kept on fighting and was also not perturbed when it trailed by 70:61 with just under two minutes to go. With 43.7 seconds left on the clock, Felix Hoffmann put the club from Lower Franconia back within striking distance with two free throws (72:69). It was only when Philipp Scrubb drained a three from more than eight meters out to make it 75:69 that the game was finally decided. The 24 seconds remaining were no longer enough for s.Oliver Würzburg to avert defeat. “Frankfurt won deservedly, but we would have also deserved victory. At last we have the better aggregate from the encounters between us and them. Now we have to capture two important points for the playoffs in our home game against Gießen,” said Bauermann.