The four-way battle for fourth place in the easyCredit German Basketball League continues. After the 82:65 victory by Medi Bayreuth on the road at Erfurt Rockets to complete the 29th matchday, the Heroes Of Tomorrow, Telekom Baskets Bonn, EWE Baskets Oldenburg and Brose Bamberg in positions four to seven in the table all have a total of 18 wins to their name. Any really meaningful comparison between the four teams is not possible at present, since Bamberg and Oldenburg are due to play each other on April 20. With five games remaining, the gap to s.Oliver Würzburg in ninth place is now three wins.
The team of Head Coach Raoul Korner was focused to begin with in the game in Erfurt and initially concentrated on its game under the basket, where Andreas Seiferth chalked up four early points. At the other end, the Rockets channeled many of their moves through the recently signed Jerome Randle, whose 11 points in the first period kept them in the encounter. He was responsible for Medi leading by just 15:12 despite buckets from beyond the arc by Gabe York, De’Mon Brooks and Steve Wachalski. When Sava Lesic tied the scores at 16:16, Erfurt’s just 1.75-meter tall point guard followed that up with six points to put his side 22:20 in front after the first period.
At the start of the second quarter, both teams initially offered bland basketball – until Assem Marei turned on the heat. The Egyptian snapped up valuable rebounds and was able to put his side ahead by 31:26 with seven points in a row. That was followed by a three-pointer by York and a timeout by Erfurt, after which both teams conceded simple and in some cases unnecessary turnovers. However, the Heroes Of Tomorrow managed to maintain their lead. That was attributable in no small part to John Cox, also thanks to his bucket from outside to make it 40:32. However, the final 60 seconds belonged to the league newcomers, who were able to reduce the deficit to 36:40 with points from Sava Lesic and Daniel Schmitt.
The opening of the second half went the home side’s way and after a fast break by Andreas Obst it was able to snatch the lead (41:40). However, the joy of most of the almost 2,100 spectators did not last long: After Bayreuth called a timeout, James Robinson initiated an 11:2 run with five points (a three and two free throws), which the point guard himself capped to make it 51:43. Now it was the turn of the Rockets’ Head Coach Ivan Pavic to call his team for a talk. Back on court, however, John Cox gave Medi its first double-digit lead of the evening, which his side maintained going into the final period (59:48). Fewer turnovers and more rebounds than Erfurt enabled the visitors to extend their lead in the third period.
Bayreuth’s lead quickly grew further in the final period thanks to four more points by John Cox. After two free throws and around two minutes of play, the scoreline stood at 64:48. Robin Amaize then drained a bucket from downtown to make it 67:50, the largest lead on the evening, in the 33rd minute. Although the club from Thuringia struck back with a 5:0 run, it was abruptly halted by a three from Wachalski. The negative highlight from the Rockets’ perspective was that Johannes Richter was forced to retire through injury when he twisted his ankle after landing unluckily on the foot of De’Mon Brooks with two minutes left. On court, the Heroes Of Tomorrow displayed their routine by playing out the game to chalk up another deserved victory.
Raoul Korner commented: “We traveled to Erfurt with a great deal of respect. And that respect proved right. We came up against a team that fights and has a good chance of avoiding relegation. Our objective was to end our negative string of defeats on the road. We’ve often not covered ourselves in glory in defense and were bent on putting a stop to that today. I think we managed that over large stretches. There was a short spell where we weren’t able to control Randle, but otherwise we had a good grip on their players. I have to compliment my team for the way it refused to be shaken.”