The dream of a place in the Euroleague playoffs is dead and buried. After what was a narrow 78:83 defeat in the end against last year’s finalists Fenerbahçe Istanbul and Anadolu Efes Istanbul’s victory, Brose Bamberg no longer has a chance of finishing among the eight best teams in Europe’s top club competition. With four matchdays left in the first round, the German champions can now focus fully on the easyCredit German Basketball League.
Head Coach Andrea Trinchieri was again without captain Elias Harris (knee problems) and Janis Strelnieks (shoulder injury) against Fenerbahçe, but old hand Nikos Zisis was additionally motivated going into the game. The 32-year-old Greek player was up against his former team and was also celebrating the 279th Euroleague game in his career – meaning he now ranks among the top 3 players with the most appearances in the competition. Zisis immediately scored seven of Bamberg’s first 12 points, but even then the home side quickly fell 12:20 behind. Bamberg clawed its way back to 21:24 until shortly before the end of the period, but then Istanbul’s Bobby Dixon drained his third bucket from outside on the buzzer (21:27). Trinchieri’s team had its problems with the extremely physical play of last year’s finalists, whom the referees let get away with a lot of hard bodily contact in defense. Fenerbahçe pulled ten points ahead (26:36), but Zisis and Jerel McNeal (9 points) reduced the deficit to 35:38. Despite losing out in the rebounding department (12:17 at half-time), Bamberg went in trailing only by 38:42.
After the break, it seemed as if the basket were boarded up for minutes for Trinchieri’s players. Bamberg was not able to score until midway through the third period; in addition, the home side continued to be dogged by many disputed calls by the referees. Fenerbahçe produced a run of 13 points without reply to open up a 38:55 gap, which it even stretched to 50:68 shortly before the end of the period. In the space of 32 seconds, however, Daniel Theis and Maodo Lo managed to drain two threes to cut the deficit to just 12 points going into the final quarter. And then Fabien Causeur came into his own: The top scorer bagged 12 of his 15 points in the final ten minutes and two quick lay-ups to make it 62:68 rekindled hope among Bamberg’s fans. However, Leon Radosevic inflicted a major setback on his team by conceding two technical fouls and so being disqualifying after venting his frustration at the referees’ refusal to make a number of calls. Joint top scorer Nikos Zisis (15 points) added five free throws in succession to close the gap to 78:82, but the remaining 36 seconds were not enough for Bamberg to catch up.
Andrea Trinchieri commented: “It was very difficult for us against a very physical team. We moved the ball well in offense, but that was too little on the day. We found it difficult to get into the game, but found a way to get back into it by the break. The third period was a nightmare; we simply didn’t make our shots. They turned on the heat and we conceded two technical fouls – that disrupted our game. We fought back magnificently, didn’t give up any ball for lost, got into close contention, but didn’t manage to turn the game around.”
Brose Bamberg face an important game in the German League on the road at FC Bayern Munich on Sunday, March 19. In the tussle with its third-placed opponents, second-placed Bamberg must win to avoid a setback in the battle for first spot in the regular season before the game against top-of-the-table ratiopharm Ulm a week later.