s.Oliver Würzburg captured two important points on the road in the battle for a playoff spot in the easyCredit German Basketball League. The club from Upper Franconia defeated fourth-placed EWE Baskets Oldenburg on the 29th matchday by the deserved margin of 93:80. The visitors laid the foundation for victory in the sold-out EWE Arena with a strong second period. Two players chalked up career bests: Maurice Stuckey (24 points) and Dejan Kovacevic (14). “It was a victory of morale and willpower. Würzburg can be proud of this team. Now we have two home games where we need to turn the arena into a cauldron,” said Head Coach Dirk Bauermann.
The Thunderbirds led just once in the encounter, when Maxim DeZeeuw scored a lay-up in the very first minute (3:2). Dirk Bauermann, who stuck to a small and fast lineup throughout the entire forty minutes, then saw his team strike back with a 6:0 run to make it 3:8, which would be indicative of the trend for the remainder of the game. His players repeatedly sought to score from close up and succeeded in that. And when the home side adapted to that after the first four buckets, the former Oldenburg player Stuckey drained two quick buckets from beyond the arc (6:14). Owen Klassen then added three more lay-ups and, with the score at 11:20 in the 7th minute, Oldenburg’s Head Coach Mladen Drijencic called his first timeout.
The 52-year-old coach’s words had an impact and resulted in his team’s best spell. Oldenburg’s center Rasid Mahalbasic was subsequently set up better by his teammates and scored nine straight points in the remaining three minutes to make it 20:20 at the end of the first period. However, the visitors quickly recovered from that spurt by the Thunderbirds. Kameron Taylor and Dejan Kovacevic scored at the start of the second quarter. The reply came in the form of a successful three-pointer by Philipp Schwethelm (23:24 in the 12th minute). However, those were to be the last points for Oldenburg for a lengthy time.
There followed a decisive run of 16 points without reply by s.Oliver Würzburg, which Drijencic was also not able to halt with his second timeout. The home side trailed by 23:40 after 16 minutes of play. Not much changed up to half-time. Abdul Gaddy buried his jump shot as the clock ran down to make it 34:49 after 20 minutes.
After the break, the home side stepped up a gear in defense and attempted to launch a comeback. Six points by Karsten Tadda were followed by a bucket from downtown by Mickey McConnell to make it 43:49 in the 23rd minute. Würzburg promptly called a timeout, and Dirk Bauermann put his team back on track with some strong words. Although Philipp Schwethelm then drained three threes in succession for Oldenburg, the club from Lower Franconia always had the right answer up its sleeve – whether two buckets from outside by Dejan Kovacevic or a slam-dunk by Clifford Hammonds. As a result, s.Oliver Würzburg again led by a clear margin of 56:72 shortly before the end of the third period. It was only a three by Mickey McConnell that ensured that the home side narrowly decided the quarter in its favor.
In the final period, Würzburg then made sure that there was no repeat of the game between the two clubs from earlier in the season, when Oldenburg came back to win after trailing by double digits. Whenever the home side reduced the deficit to below ten points, the visitors gave as good as they got and drained important shots confidently. It was then left to Maurice Stuckey to seal the encounter with 80 seconds left on the clock: The 27-year-old buried his fifth three of the game from a long way outside to make it 76:88 and clinch an important win on the road.