Brose Baskets are the first team to reach the semi-finals of the German championship. The home side decided a fiercely contested encounter in the Brose Arena by 87:79 to achieve a clean 3:0 sweep of the quarter-final. Yet, it was again a tough playoff struggle for the third time in this series: the team of Head Coach Andrea Trinchieri was trailing by ten just after the break, yet coped with the situation extremely well.
Brose Baskets got off to a strong start and took a 6:0 lead after two minutes as a result of two lay-ups from Brad Wanamaker and a mid-range shot from Dalibor Bagaric. However, they were not to have things as easy as in the opening spell: with their unconventional defending and extremely physical approach, the visitors forced the home side to commit errors in offense and disrupted its rhythm. Moves were finished too often with difficult shots that missed their mark. Ludwigsburg caught up and went ahead shortly before the end of the first period (18:22). Bamberg then tied the scores at 35:35 through the strong Dawan Robinson (15 points), but the opponents from Swabia struck back with a run of 7 without reply to go in at half-time with a 35:42 lead.
Ludwigsburg stretched the gap right after the break to 35:45 through the Beko German Basketball League’s top scorer DJ Kennedy (22 points, an average of 18 in all German league games), but it was then all Bamberg in the ensuing minutes: it was more energetic in defense and so thwarted four Ludwigsburg attacks in a row, while producing a string of three-pointers in attack. Darius Miller, top scorer Brad Wanamaker (21 points) and Janis Strelnieks all drained their shots from beyond the arc in the space of 80 seconds, Wanamaker added two free throws and Trevor Mbakwe made a lay-up to put their side 48:45 in front. Yet the guests were not to be shaken off easily and reduced the deficit to 62:60 at the start of the final period. Brose Baskets stepped up a gear and Janis Strelnieks (15 points) made a lay-up with a bonus free point, following that up immediately with a three to put his side 78:66 ahead with four minutes left. In particular, the three offensive rebounds snapped up by Trevor Mbakwe (11 points, 11 rebounds) in the final period were a painful blow to Ludwigsburg, since they enabled Bamberg to run the clock down and nevertheless add points. The game was sealed at the latest by the euphoric slam-dunk by Mbakwe to make it 85:75 and put Brose Baskets in the semi-final.
Andrea Trinchieri commented: “We can take one thing away from this game: we’ve advanced to the next round. It was a really tough series, incredibly tough. Ludwigsburg plays very physically and to the very end. Our first half was very poor, very soft. We didn’t fight and so fell behind. Our body language changed after the break. We started the third period with some very tough play and defended better. It was now us and not them that snapped up the free balls. We did a better job of controlling Kennedy, who had an outstanding game, and then produced a run. Our greater rotation was an advantage, that’s a fact. But at the end of the day, I believe we deserved to advance to the semi-final.”
The playoff semi-final begins for Brose Baskets with a home game in the Brose Arena on Saturday, May 23, 2015. The time and opponents have still not been finalized. Telekom Baskets Bonn and Ratiopharm Ulm are currently tied at 1:1 in the other quarter-final.