The second NBA-style week with four games in nine days ended with a conciliatory 89:80 win on the road at Alba Berlin for the German champions Brose Baskets on Sunday afternoon after two defeats in the Euroleague. With its 11th win in its 11th German league game, the team of Head Coach Andrea Trinchieri remains top of the table, but followed by ratiopharm Ulm, who is unbeaten in ten games.
The home side piled on the pressure in the Mercedes Benz Arena, especially in the first five minutes, and was determined to build a lead against the “more tired” visitors from Bamberg. However, Alba only partly succeeded in that: After Alba quickly went 6:0 in front and chalked up its highest lead in the encounter (12:4), Trinchieri’s players got into their stride at the latest with the score at 16:9 in the Mercedes Benz Arena. A lay-up from Patrick Heckmann, a steal by Daniel Theis and a bucket from beyond the arc by Lucca Staiger closed the deficit to 16:14. Darius Miller tied the score at 18:18 in the first period, then the two playmakers Janis Strelnieks and Fabien Causeur put their stamp on the game in the second: The Latvian Strelnieks drained three of his four buckets from downtown, while the Frenchman Causeur often drove quickly to the basket, usually made his shots or drained the subsequent free throws when he was only able to be halted by a foul. The teams went in at half-time with Bamberg 39:35 in front, also thanks to its strong 3-point field goal percentage: Whereas Bamberg made six out of its ten attempted three-pointers, only one out of ten from Berlin hit the mark.
To the dismay of the 13,000 Berlin spectators and the joy of the 150 Bamberg fans, the third period belonged to the visitors. Although Bamberg found it almost impossible to stop Kikanovic (32 points), Berlin’s center was not impressive in defense and Leon Radosevic (14 points) exploited the Bosnian’s weakness mercilessly time and again. With six points in a row, Radosevic put Bamberg ahead by double digits for the first time (52:42), after which top scorer Janis Strelnieks (16 points) and Patrick Heckmann gave their side its highest lead in the encounter (69:55). Yet Berlin did not give up: Kikanovic in particular kept on scoring and got his side to within five points (72:67). Fabien Causeur (15 points) added an important lay-up to make it 76:67 and Nikos Zisis restored his team’s double-digit lead (80:67). And despite two buckets from outside by Berlin in just 14 seconds to make it 82:75, abetted by Bamberg losing possession from an in-bounds pass, the German champions played the final three-and-a-half minutes securely to capture a solid victory.
Andrea Trinchieri commented: “That was our fourth game in nine days, so you couldn’t expect a perfect performance over 40 minutes. We defended very poorly against pick and roll in the first half. We did that better in our minds and physically after the break and so gained control of the game. OK, we should have managed things better at the end. We ticked off the game too early and it got tight again. But at the end of the day, I’m happy with the victory. It’s a good win, an important win.”
The German champs’ next encounter is on the road in the Euroleague on Thursday, November 24, 2016, when they aim to finally win their first away game in the competition against the Lithuania club Zalgiris Kaunas. The tip-off is at 7 p.m.