Just 45 hours after their defeat in the Euroleague at Khimki Moscow (61:78), Brose Baskets qualified for the Cup Top Four by winning a do-or-die game on the road against MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg. For three quarters, the “much-traveled” German champions found the going tough against the resolutely defending side from Swabia until they finally sealed a 71:58 victory with a 15:0 run straddling periods in the second half.
However, little clicked for Brose baskets in their Euroleague encounter just 45 hours previously. Bamberg had problems from the outset against the reigning Eurocup champions Khimki Moscow with its very strong individual players. Moscow tended to be successful in offense with solo actions, but at the back it kept on closing down Bamberg’s passing lanes with outstanding team defense. Trailing by 16:27, the German champions were almost able to tie the scores by half-time (28:30) with a run of 11 without reply thanks to Brad Wanamaker (13 points) and even went 40:38 ahead after the break through six straight points by Leon Radosevic. But then Khimki’s Aleks Shved, whose salary of 3.4 million euros makes him Europe’s most expensive player, drained several outlandish buckets from beyond the arc and Khimki was able to open up a 68:48 gap thanks to his 22 points. The 61:78 defeat means the team of Head Coach Andrea Trinchieri has also relinquished its place at the top of Group F to the Russian club.
As in December, the game on the road at MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg was hard work for the German champions. 45 hours after the encounter in Moscow, Bamberg got off to a good start: top scorer Nicolo Melli (17 points soon gave his side a 17:7 lead against the home side with its physical defending. However, Ludwigsburg disconcerted the visitors by displaying even great hardness in defense, Bamberg’s shots failed to drop and the team from Swabia caught up with a 9:0 run and even went in at half-time leading by 36:34. The lead kept on changing hands until shortly before the end of the third period, when Bamberg reverted to the zone defense it had employed at the start. Ludwigsburg did not come to terms with that, its center John Brockman, the top scorer in the game in December, failed to make a mark and the home side missed almost all of its attempts from beyond the arc (3 out of 18) against Bamberg’s defensive tactics. In contrast, Trinchieri’s team chalked up a strong 3-point field goal percentage: eight out of 17 shots, including the very important bucket by Nicolo Melli to make it 54:50 at the end of the third period. And whereas Darius Miller in particular blossomed at the start of the final quarter and, in addition to a three, buried two lay-ups in succession, Ludwigsburg was not able to score for almost eight minutes against Bamberg’s strong defense. The 15:0 run to make it 68:50 enabled the visitors to advance to the cup tournament. Brad Wanamaker (13 points) drained the last three to make the final score 71:58.
Andrea Trinchieri commented: “About Khimki. That was a bad game from us. We didn’t have the right energy and weren’t able to counter Khimki’s physical presence properly. That can happen in such a long season with so many games on the road. The cup game was incredible. Ludwigsburg and we knew it was a knock-out game. We played a great game and, coming from a long trip, had no time to train. Ludwigsburg was the tough opponent we expected and made life very difficult for us all the time. Today we had to defend differently than usual because we didn’t come back fresh from Moscow. But it’s a further victory under our belt and so I’m very happy.”
Brose Baskets face their next tough away game in the Russian capital on Thursday, January 28, 2016. Just six days after the encounter at Khimki Moscow, they line up against CSKA Moscow in the Top 16 of the Euroleague. The tip-off in the VTB Ice Palace is at 6 p.m.