A Franconian derby in the quarter-finals! Despite losing 78:85 on the road at BG Göttingen, s.Oliver Baskets have secured eighth spot and now face the top-placed titleholders Brose Baskets in the first round of the playoffs. Wurzburg were done a favor on the 34th matchday of the regular season by Alba Berlin, who won its home game against Giessen 46ers by 91:81 after overtime.
The home side strode into a 15:10 lead, with more than half of its buckets coming from beyond the arc, but s.Oliver Baskets struck back in the first period with a run of nine points without reply to make it 15:19. Yet before the quarter ended, Göttingen replied with a 7:0 spurt – and the encounter was to continue in that vein. The visitors went back in front after a bucket from outside by Dru Joyce (24:26 in the 14th minute), then Dominik Spohr with another three sparked another 8:0 run by the Violets. Spohr was one of four German players who bagged a total of eleven threes for Göttingen. Shortly before the break, Malte Schwarz drained two buckets from outside and Mathis Mönninghoff added another for nine successive points that stretched the gap from 34:33 to 43:35.
Right at the start of the second half, the home side took a double-digit lead for the first time (48:37) thanks to a three by Kulawick and a lay-up from Terrell Everett, forcing Doug Spradley to call a timeout with barely two minutes played in the third period. After that, his team got into the game better for a brief spell – Seth Tuttle and Dru Joyce produced a 8:0 run from the 26th minute on to cut the deficit to 55:51.
s.Oliver Baskets took the third period by 18:14 and had closed the gap to 57:55 by its end. Three minutes later, Seth Tuttle even drained a three to put the visitors 59:60 in front, but that lead would not last for long. The Violets pulled 69:62 ahead again in the space of two minutes – also thanks to two buckets from beyond the arc by Mönninghoff and Everett. In the final five minutes of the encounter, it was then Robert Kulawick who thwarted any comeback efforts by the club from Lower Franconia by burying three buckets from the corner.
At the end, both teams were able to celebrate: Göttingen and its fans because the home side had avoided relegation and s.Oliver Baskets and its fans who had made the journey because it had reached the playoffs. “The defeat today is painful, but I said to my players that they could be proud of their performance this season. It’s great being one of the best eight teams in the league,” said s.Oliver Baskets’ Head Coach Doug Spradley: “Playoffs, baby! Anything’s possible. I’m also happy for our fans. They’ve deserved the playoffs at least as much as we have.”
The quarter-finals in the best-of-five series start on Sunday, May 8, at 8:30 p.m. with game 1 in Bamberg’s Brose Arena. Game 2 is on Thursday, May 12, at 8 p.m. in the s.Oliver Arena and game 3 is again in Bamberg on May 15 at 5 p.m.