s.Oliver Baskets beat Alba Berlin 90:83 (47:36) on the road after a great fight. Their losing streak came to an end where it began: after four straight defeats in competitive games, s.Oliver Baskets got back to winning ways. The newly promoted team won its encounter, which had been postponed from the 19th matchday in the Beko German Basketball League, on the road at Alba by 90:83 (47:36) after a great fight and exciting final spell. Würzburg’s top scorer in the game was Seth Tuttle, who not only produced a double-double (22 points and 11 rebounds), but also demonstrated his strong nerves: The 23-year-old drained six free throws in the final 21 seconds to help give his side victory.
Doug Spradley, Head Coach of s.Oliver Baskets, had demanded far more fight and aggression from his team after the defeat in Hagen on Saturday. His demand was heard – and definitely so after his early timeout in the 2nd minute, where he probably reminded his players about what they had resolved to do. The pep talk was necessitated by the fact that Alba Berlin had got off to the better start thanks to six points by Robert Lowery, a lead it stretched to 9:2 after just over three minutes.
Würzburg then clawed its way back into the game with very intense defending, as reflected in the large number of fouls awarded against some players so early on. A run of 8 points without reply, enabled among other things by two buckets from beyond the arc by Seth Tuttle and Dru Joyce, put Würzburg in front for the first time (11:12).
In the second period, the crowd of just over 9,000 in the Mercedes Benz Arena saw a completely different game: whereas the home side had increasing difficulties in attack, the team from Lower Franconia grew in confidence. The quarter began with Joshiko Saibou and Seth Tuttle draining threes to make it 27:32, then a few minutes later Maurice Stuckey and Dru Joyce, who also achieved a double-double (15 points and 11 assists), stretched the lead to double digits for the first time with two more buckets from outside (31:41 in the 17th minute). The Albatrosses needed a while to recover: the teams went in at half-time with the score at 36:47 and Würzburg’s aggressive defense also continued to have an impact to begin with in the third period. It was only with 25 minutes gone that the team from the capital managed more often to finish its moves and fight back to 55:56 in an encounter where both teams played with high intensity. Maurice Stuckey hit back right away, draining a three and then in the next scene finishing a fast attack with a lay-up and bonus free throw to make it 55:62.
The Baskets also kept the home side at a distance at the start of the final period: Stuckey, Joyce and two buckets from Sebastian Betz helped produce a 10:2 run that gave the visitors their highest lead in the game (59:72 in the 33rd minute). Berlin then capitalized on slips in concentration in Würzburg’s attack and launched the next comeback, which was concluded by the strong Rob Lowery with his fourth bucket from outside to tie the scores at 75:75 in the 37th minute.
Yet the visitors were not disconcerted in this situation, either – despite the fact that they had to do without the fouled-out centers Brendan Lane and Devin Searcy by that stage. First of all, Dru Joyce battled his way through at the basket and scored (75:77), then he found Seth Tuttle, who made the slam-dunk (75:79). With just under two minutes left, it was then Ruben Spoden who increased the gap to 76:82 with a three-pointer – the game’s crucial run, since Berlin was not able to close the deficit to less than three after that.
With 22 seconds to go, the former Würzburg player Kresimir Loncar cut the lead to 81:84 with a bucket from outside, after which Berlin resorted to tactical fouls to stop the clock. It sent Seth Tuttle to the line three times, but the 23-year-old did not show any nerves and buried all six free throws – the last two to make the final score 83:90 with exactly 5.1 seconds remaining.
Doug Spradley, Head Coach of s.Oliver Baskets, commented: “That was a magnificent victory. We haven’t shown our best basketball in the past weeks. We worked hard for the game today and resolved to fight hard for forty minutes, regardless of the score. That was the difference from the clear defeat three weeks ago, when we were sometimes only onlookers. Today we were even a bit more aggressive than Berlin. We wanted to prevent all easy shots – also with fouls, if necessary. That worked well, but I’m glad the game didn’t last a few minutes longer, otherwise I might not have had any more players on court.”
Sasa Obradovic, Head Coach of Alba Berlin, noted: “I’m disappointed about the defeat, which was fully deserved. Today – or at least at the beginning and especially in the second period – we played like Würzburg in the cup game: we were too soft and didn’t use our body the right way. It’s always difficult when you’re trailing and have to catch up.”