It seems that Kaunas in Lithuania is an unassailable stronghold for Brose Bamberg. The German champs went down to a 72:86 defeat at Zalgiris Kaunas on Thursday evening. This seventh loss in the current Euroleague season means they have dropped to next-to-bottom in the table. The reason for the defeat can be summed up in one word: rebounds. The visitors allowed the home side to snap up the ball 19 times under their basket.
Yet things looked to be going very well for Bamberg for more than a period: Playmaker Fabien Causeur produced his best quarter for the club, frequently driving to the basket and finishing the move with a lay-up. The Frenchman made nine out of his total haul of 12 points in the first ten minutes and so played a big part in ensuring his side ended it 22:18 in front. Playmaker Maodo Lo even stretched the gap to 28:22 after 12 minutes with two wonderful half-distance shots. But from then on, one problem loomed large for the players of Head Coach Andrea Trinchieri: rebounding – in particular under their own basket. Kaunas’ players were always a step quicker or sharper in stretching their hand out for the ball. Although good defending by Bamberg forced the home side to take difficult shots, the club from Lithuania simply grabbed four rebounds in the eight minutes before the break and quickly added points by capitalizing on the second chance. Kaunas drained four buckets from beyond the arc in the space of two-and-a-half minutes before half-time to go in leading by 39:47.
And Bamberg was dealt the next blows right after the restart: Kaunas added a three, blocked Leon Radosevic as he was taking a lay-up and then added the next bucket from downtown. Janis Strelnieks then conceded a turnover and Zalgiris scored a lay-up to make it 39:55 in a spell garnished by three further offensive rebounds won by the home side. Brose Bamberg went into the final quarter trailing by 17 points (54:71) and it was in particular top scorer Daniel Theis (15 points) and Janis Strelnieks (14) who did all they could to try and avert defeat. The visitors produced a small 9:2 run to reduce the deficit to 63:73 and rekindle hope. However, a dubious foul called against Theis resulted in three free throws – moreover, Trinchieri protested and conceded a technical foul with an extra free throw (63:77). When Theis made a strong lay-up but, instead of being awarded the points, was adjudged to have committed an offensive foul, Kaunas went down the other end to make it 63:79 and decide the encounter.
Andrea Trinchieri commented: “Kaunas fully deserved its win. The key was the 40:21 advantage the home side had in rebounding. We didn’t have the right energy, the right physical strength, to play this game. We got off to a good start, but you can’t survive on the road with good shooting percentages alone. When our 3-point field goal percentage dropped, Zalgiris produced a run and that was the turning point in the game. Whenever we had the chance to get back into contention, we didn’t pick up the rebound, committed a foul or didn’t run after a loose ball. Things like that make it difficult for you to survive in the Euroleague.”
Brose Bamberg does not have a game at the weekend, as the encounter against Göttingen on the 11th matchday of the German Basketball League had been brought forward. It welcomes newly promoted Rasta Vechta to the Brose Arena on Tuesday (tip-off: 8:30 p.m.). The game from the 15th matchday is being held three weeks earlier due to the fact that Bamberg has two Euroleague tussles in the week before Christmas.