Reigning champions Brose Bamberg failed to clinch qualification for the playoff on the 31st matchday after a weekend with two games in the German Basketball League. After a strong performance, especially in the final period, in their 95:82 victory over EWE Baskets Oldenburg, another win on Sunday afternoon on the road at Fraport Skyliners would have meant they had already qualified for the playoffs. Yet after a desolate display in the first 22 minutes and trailing by 33:55, the team of Head Coach Luca Banchi was only able to reduce the deficit to 72:83 in the end and so not by enough to win.
Oldenburg got off to the better start in the Brose Arena on Friday evening and went 20:15 in front after snapping up four offensive rebounds and forcing the home side to concede four turnovers. However, Bamberg’s Dorell Wright scored eight points in the opening period to cut the gap to 19:20 at its end. In the second quarter, Banchi’s team was more focused in rebounding in particular, as Augustine Rubit and Daniel Hackett produced a run of eight points without reply to give their side a 43:37 lead, although Oldenburg cut that to 43:39 at half-time. After the break, Bamberg was completely caught napping at the start of the third period: A 2:11 run by the club from Lower Saxony left it trailing by 45:52. Yet after Banchi called a timeout, Bamberg turned on the heat again, with the outstanding Daniel Hackett contributing eleven points, including two buckets from beyond the arc, to his side’s run up to the end of the period. Leon Radosevic made a clear statement with a strong slam-dunk to put his side 70:60 ahead. Oldenburg reduced the deficit to five points, but then the Brose team played as if possessed in offense and finished just about every attack by scoring. Daniel Hackett did not miss a shot from the floor and helped secure an important victory, abetted by the 25 points from top scorer Augustine Rubit.
However, anyone hoping for a victory on Sunday against rival playoff contenders Frankfurt in view of the string of five straight wins and the improving form of Banchi’s team was bitterly disappointed. Especially in the first half, the title-holders experienced a sharp slump, with too many individual mistakes, two few rebounds and too weak a shooting percentage. Their defense was always a step too late against the fast Frankfurt players and they repeatedly let the league’s top scorer Phil Scrubb drive to the basket. Scrubb alone had notched up 26 points by the break – compared with Bamberg’s combined total of just 33. And Scrubb continued to irritate the club from Upper Franconia after the break with two lay-ups to extend the gap to 33:55. After calling a timeout, Bamberg began to put up stiffer resistance: Two threes by Maodo Lo wriggled their way through the hoop and Dorell Wright reduced the deficit to 44:57. Yet Frankfurt, who even managed to squander an 18-point lead against Munich a week ago, did not let itself be disconcerted by Bamberg’s greater intensity and, although it drained far fewer shots than in the first half, it was often able to block Bamberg’s hasty attacks. Banchi’s team got to within nine points shortly before the end, also thanks to top scorer Dejan Musli, but that was not enough against Frankfurt.
Luca Banchi commented: “Both games had the feel of a playoff. The win against Oldenburg was important for us. We displayed fight and character and were focused in what we did. When we had problems in the third period, we responded well and rediscovered our system in attack and defense. Frankfurt played with a great deal more aggression, energy and desire than we did in the first half. That costs us a lot of confidence. We tried to come back in the second half, but it wasn’t to be the day for that. We now have to analyze this important game and draw our lessons from it.”