After two defeats in a row in the easyCredit Basketball Bundesliga, Brose Bamberg returned to its winning ways. Although the narrow 71:70 victory on the road at BG Göttingen was hard work, the reward for it is that Bamberg is now second outright in the “all-time table”: The club from Upper Franconia has now won more games in the history of the German League than Bayer Leverkusen, who captured a string of national titles in the 1980s.
However, the battle for second place is not yet decided with six matchdays before the end of the regular season. FC Bayern, which has likewise lost three games this season, is breathing down Bamberg’s neck – although Bamberg has the better aggregate from the direct encounters between the two. So the team of Head Coach Andrea Trinchieri probably cannot afford a further defeat in its remaining games, otherwise it runs the risk of finishing third. The German champions escaped by the skin of the teeth in Göttingen, clinging on to their one-point lead despite the fact that their opponents from Lower Saxony had possession in the final seconds.
After the strength-sapping Euroleague tussle with overtime against Darussafaka Istanbul last Thursday, Trinchieri made major changes to his team. The Head Coach gave his two playmakers Nikos Zisis and Fabien Causeur a break and even left them at home; however, Janis Strelnieks was available again, six weeks after tearing a shoulder ligament in the cup final against Bayern. Ali Nikolic also moved into the starting five and the youngster repaid the trust put in him by making three impressive passes to Leon Radosevic (11 points) in the opening minutes. The latter’s lay-ups, strong shots by Darius Miller and a bucket from beyond the arc by Lucca Staiger put Bamberg 11:1 in front after four minutes. However, Trinchieri’s players then shot poorly and conceded a number of turnovers, with the result that Göttingen – fired on by the 3,100 spectators – briefly took the lead (25:26). However, three buckets from downtown by Darius Miller (9 points), Lucca Staiger and Janis Strelnieks secured a 42:40 half-time lead for Bamberg.
The visitors dominated the encounter after the break: Bamberg produced turnovers at the back thanks to aggressive defense, while at the other end Daniel Theis (10 points) and Patrick Heckmann made slam-dunks to help produce a 13:2 run and put their side 61:49 ahead. But then it seemed as if Göttingen’s basket was boarded up for a whole four minutes and the home side reduced the deficit to 61:58. Since Bamberg was without Nicolo Melli and Lucca Staiger in the second half due to slight injuries, Trinchieri lacked alternatives in offense and so Göttingen tied the scores at 65:65. Janis Strelnieks then took things into his own hands on his return from injury: The Latvian player made a strong lay-up and two free throws to put his side 69:65 in front (and also ended up as top scorer with 12 points). Daniel Theis added a slam-dunk to make it 71:68, but Göttingen cut the gap to 71:70. Since Theis missed on the next attack, Göttingen had the chance to snatch victory. However, with one second left on the clock, Patrick Heckmann stole the ball from the attacking Göttingen player without the home side being able to get in its final shot.
Andrea Trinchieri commented: “Göttingen fought magnificently. We got what we wanted – a tough win. We had to go into overtime on Thursday, so it was obvious we wouldn’t be brilliant in Göttingen. In addition, Lucca Staiger and Nicolo Melli could no longer play in the second half. We did what we needed to win. We were bad in transition, but rebounded well.”
Bamberg faces its final game in the 2016/2017 Euroleague season on Thursday, April 6, 2017, at home against Galatasaray Istanbul, who has former teammate Tibor Pleiß in its ranks. The tip-off is at 8 p.m.