The first hurdle has been cleared. With a 76:67 victory on the road at Telekom Baskets Bonn, title-holders Brose Bamberg have qualified for the semi-finals of the playoffs, where they face FC Bayern Munich starting on Sunday. As in the three previous games, the team of Head Coach Andrea Trinchieri also had to fight hard to clinch this quarter-final encounter.
The home side in the Telekom Dome was again without its playmaker Josh Mayo in game four, but Bamberg was not able to capitalize on that in the first half. The visitors soon trailed 4:8 as Bonn got off to a lightning start in the opening minutes. Bamberg equalized thanks to buckets from beyond the arc by Nicolo Melli and Janis Strelnieks, yet was not able to pull away due the resistance put up by Julian Gamble, who chalked up 14 of his 18 points before the break. With its physical play, Bonn’s defensive ranks forced Bamberg to concede a lot of turnovers (twelve up to half-time and just two after that), with the result that Trinchieri’s team never found a fluent rhythm in offense. Even when Bamberg went 35:28 ahead through Theis and Melli, Bonn tied the scores, after which Nicolo Melli drained his next three to give Bamberg a narrow 38:37 lead at half-time.
The picture was the same after the break: Leon Radosevic added six straight points with three lay-ups at the start of the third period to put Bamberg 44:39 in front. However, the visitors then went three minutes without scoring to enable Bonn to cut the deficit to 45:44. Top scorers Nicolo Melli and Nikos Zisis (15 points apiece) then drained two quick buckets from downtown to put their side 51:44 ahead, yet Bonn again exploited slips by Bamberg to close the gap to 54:50 at the end of the quarter. Daniel Theis and Janis Strelnieks (11 points each) took things into their own hands at the start of the final period: After free throws by Strelnieks, the Latvian player played textbook assists for Theis, enabling the German international to drain several buckets and help put Bamberg 60:50 in front. Two strong slam-dunks by Theis and Melli to make it 70:57 with four minutes left seemed to have sealed victory, but Bonn tried to avert being dumped out of the competition by producing a final run of 7 points without reply. Head Coach Trinchieri called a timeout with the score at 70:64 and gave his players a pep talk for the remaining two minutes. Bonn adopted the tactic of committing quick fouls against Bamberg, but Theis and Zisis buried all six of their shots from the foul line up to the final buzzer and so the club from the Rhineland could no longer close the gap: Bamberg had reached the semi-finals!
Andrea Trinchieri commented: “I very happy we’ve advanced to the semi-finals, because it wasn’t easy. In this series, Bonn has prepared us well for the playoff games to come because it really demanded everything of us. We have to step up our level significantly right away. This series showed that we’ve made the entire German Basketball League better over the past years. We’ve done excellent work and the other teams have followed suit. The teams we currently have in the German league are the most evenly matched ever. I’m pleased about that.”
The first game in the playoff semi-final series is on Sunday, May 21, 2017. The tip-off against FC Bayern Munich in the Brose Arena is at 3 p.m.