In the end it was the greater experience that tipped the scales: in the opening game of the 29th match day of the Beko German Basketball League, s.Oliver Baskets succumbed to FRAPORT SKYLINERS by the narrow margin of 87:91 (45:42) in the as always sold-out s.Oliver Arena. The visitors from Frankfurt sealed their win only in the last 48 seconds to exact revenge for the defeat in the first half of the season.
The score was tied 14 times and the lead changed hands 20 times in the Main derby in a game where no team was able to open up a gap of more than seven points. “Würzburg played at a high pace we haven’t seen for a long time. As a result, it put us under pressure,” said the SKYLINERS’ Head Coach Gordon Herbert afterwards.
It was pretty clear from the first period that the encounter would be an extremely exciting affair. In particular, Frankfurt was not able to get a grip on s.Oliver Baskets’ Brendan Lane at the beginning. The center notched up 12 of his 23 points in the first ten minutes after the visitors were three ahead (21:24), above all thanks to their two German big men Danilo Barthel and Johannes Voigtmann.
Nor was either team able to obtain a largish advantage in the second quarter – when Frankfurt built a six-point lead (26:32 in the 13th minute), Joshiko Saibou and Cameron Long struck back with two buckets from beyond the arc. In the final minutes before the break, it was then Maurice Stuckey who, after draining another three, powered his way to the Skyliners’ basket to put his side 45:40 in front. Both teams went in at the break with the score at 45:42.
Würzburg’s youngster Max Ugrai was picked to start again and buried a three as the shot clock ran down to give his side a good beginning to the second half. After Stuckey likewise added a bucket from outside to stretch the gap to 51:44 in the 22nd minute – Würzburg’s highest lead of the game –, it was turn of the visitors from Mainhattan. Frankfurt added 10 points without reply to make it 51:54, a run that was only stopped in the 24th minute when the Baskets’ Head Coach Doug Spradley called a timeout that produced an immediate impact: by the end of the 3rd period, his players had re-established a seven-point lead (69:62).
Danilo Barthel and Jordan Theodore then needed just a little over two minutes at the start of the final quarter to add seven straight points and tie the encounter once more (69:69 in the 33rd minute). The 3,140 spectators then saw the lead change hands another five times in a very intense game that was fiercely contested by both sides. With just under two minutes left, Philip Scrubb drained a three for Frankfurt to make it 81:87, but s.Oliver Baskets hit back again with a lay-up from Brendan Lane and four free throws by Dru Joyce and Seth Tuttle to tie the scores at 87:87 with 48.6 seconds on the clock.
After a timeout called by Gordon Herbert, it was then Jordan Theodore who decided the game with a lay-up to make it 87:89. At the other end, Würzburg was no longer able to get in a successful shot. Instead, Quantez Robertson got the ball, evaded all his opposing players and was able to add a lay-up with 5.6 seconds left to make the final score 87:91. “We had the chance to win the game. However, Frankfurt was a little more experienced and clever than we were in crunch time,” said Doug Spradley after the game.
In the tussle for the eighth playoff spot, s.Oliver Baskets’ closest pursuers, GIESSEN 46ers, can thus draw level on points in the table if they beat Braunschweig at home on Friday. A victory for Basketball Lions Braunschweig would also be the last chance for them to stay in the race for a playoff berth. Würzburg how has a free weekend, after which it faces a game on the road at Bremerhaven Polar Bears on the 30th match day (Sunday, April 17; tip-off: 3 p.m.) before welcoming Telekom Baskets Bonn to the s.Oliver Arena on Friday, April 22 (tip-off: 8:30 p.m.).