As in their first game in Thuringia, the return encounter between medi bayreuth and Science City Jena on the 24th matchday in the easyCredit German Basketball League offered everything that makes basketball simply the greatest indoor sport in the world. The 3,129 spectators in the Oberfrankenhalle could only second that observation by Michael Körner, the commentator of Telekom Basketball, after the final buzzer.
The Heroes Of Tomorrow traded blows with league newcomers and fellow playoff contenders Jena in a game that was packed with fight, passion, drama and class and truly offered everything that causes the hearts of basketball fans to beat faster.
Whereas the first two periods could not have been more different, both teams were neck and neck for a long time in the second half. In the end, it was small things that decided the game in favor of the team of Head Coach Raoul Korner, which refused to be shaken, always finding the right answer to the visitors’ very strong spells with great morale, fight, energy and passion, and ultimately ran out winners by 92:84 (42:49).
medi bayreuth was able to chalk up its 16th victory of the season, not least thanks to incredible support again from its own fans in the Oberfrankenhalle, and preserve a two-win gap between it in fourth place and rivals Bonn and Berlin.
Brief summary of the encounter
The opening minutes of the encounter were characterized by a high shooting percentage on the part of both teams. After the Heroes Of Tomorrow notched up their first four points from the foul line, De’Mon Brooks drained a bucket from outside to make it 7:5 in the 3rd minute. The lead quickly grew – Assem Marei and De’Mon Brooks had a lot of freedom and extended the gap to 16:8 in the 5th minute. Further points by Brooks gave medi its first double-digit lead in the eighth minute (22:12). Yet Jena kept plugging away, with the result that it was still in touch at the end of the first period (30:22).
Things also went well for the home side initially at the start of the second quarter, as it pulled away to 37:26 thanks to a three by Lewis – the highest lead of the evening. However, the visitors from Thuringia got into the game better, varied their defense and were more incisive in offense than Korner’s team. Two quick buckets by Marcos Knight cut the deficit to just 34:37 in the 15th minute. Jena continued in that vein and turned the game around from the three-point line. Stephan Haukohl and Shaquille Goodwin took measure and put their side 42:40 ahead in the 16th minute. Goodwin and old hand Julius Jenkins extended the visitors’ lead, with the result that medi bayreuth trailed 42:49 at the break.
The visitors continued to control the game in the second half to begin with. In particular, Bayreuth had problems coping with their play in offense, which was geared toward Shaquille Goodwin. The big man was repeatedly able to score slam-dunks. And it was him who gave his side its biggest lead with an alley oop (56:47 in the 23rd minute). But then Bayreuth slowly begin to tick over better. De’Mon Brooks followed up a 3-point play with a bucket from downtown (53:56 in the 25th minute). medi fought its way back into the game and reaped success with its dauntless fighting spirit. Trey Lewis put his side back ahead by draining one of his total of four threes (66:65 in the 29th minute). Yet Jena turned the game around again before the final period and took a one-point lead with it into the final ten minutes.
The start of the final quarter again belonged to Jena, who initially benefited from two buckets from outside by Jenkins and a technical foul against De’Mon Brooks. Marcos Knight scored from the foul line to make it 76:71 for the visitors in the 34th minute. But then Trey Lewis took the game by the scruff of its neck. After two free throws, he drained a three (76:76 in the 36th minute), then Assem Marei gave his side the lead back after snapping up a great offensive rebound, after which Steve Wachalski also added a three to extend the gap to 81:77 in the 37th minute. But Jena still did not give up. Another offensive rebound resulting in a basket by Marei and an outstanding free throw percentage – Trey Lewis scored seven alone – were required to finally force the visitors to their knees.