Brose Baskets have match ball in the playoff semi-final. The 81:80 victory on the road at Ratiopharm Ulm in game two means Bamberg now leads 2:0 and now needs one more win to advance to the final of the German championship. However, the team of Head Coach Andrea Trinchieri had a far tougher time of things in the Ratiopharm Arena than in the comfortable 99:63 win in game 1. Brad Wanamaker scored the winning points with just five seconds on the clock after his side had trailed by 12 points at one stage.
Brose Baskets began well in the opening minutes, with Trevor Mbakwe scoring a lay-up and Elias Harris a three to put their side 5:2 ahead. However, Ulm then played far more strongly, defended much more physically and capitalized on Bamberg’s mistakes to mount fast attacks and add easy points. Ulm took the lead for the first time in the semi-final playoff (6:5) and defended it narrowly until the end of the period (19:18). It was pretty clear from the opening quarter that Brose Baskets would not be able to maintain their unbelievable 3-point field goal percentage of 73 from the first game: after Elias Harris drained his bucket from beyond the arc, they missed their next five attempts from outside. The momentum tipped to the home side by the latest when the strong defender Harris picked up his third foul after eleven minutes. The opposing side from Swabia drained a number of threes, quickly built a double-digit lead (32:22) and maintained the gap up to half-time (45:35). Only Trevor Mbakwe put up stiff resistance in the first half, scoring 12 points.
In particular Brad Wanamaker, who was pretty inconspicuous in a first half where he bagged a meagre two points, came back on court bristling with energy: the captain snapped up three rebounds, won two turnovers and skillfully distributed passes, with the result that Trevor Mbakwe and Dawan Robinson were able to add lay-ups and cut the deficit to 55:52. Yet precisely in this phase in which Bamberg turned on the pressure, Wanamaker’s head collided with the elbow of an Ulm player while he was attempting a lay-up and the captain was forced to leave the court, bleeding from the cut. And in the three minutes in which team doctor Andreas Först stapled the wound in the dressing room, Ulm promptly surged away to post its highest lead of the evening (66:54). With nine minutes left, Brad Wanamaker returned and immediately sparked his side’s comeback, tying the scores at 67:67 with two lay-ups with four-and-a-half minutes to go. However, the home side woke back up following this 13:1 run on the back of impressive defending by Bamberg. Per Günther responded with a three-pointer to make it 70:67 for Ulm and Ian Vougioukas defended it with one minute to go (76:74). Dawan Robinson (14 points) clinically finished the next attack with the only Bamberg three in the second half, but with twenty seconds on the clock Jaka Klobucar put Ulm 80:79 ahead. Andrea Trinchieri called a timeout and dictated a perfect move to his team: completely unchallenged by Ulm, Brad Wanamaker let the clock run down, drove round Klobucar and laid the ball into the basket above the small Per Günter to make it 81:80. Ulm had just five seconds for the final attack, but strong defending by Trinchieri’s team meant that the home side was not even able to get a shot in.
Andrea Trinchieri commented: “Ulm played as I had expected. However, the way we played over 30 minutes was unexpected: we were soft, didn’t display any physicality and didn’t play well in defense. However, I have to give my team a lot of credit for the willpower and strong nerves it showed in the final period. As a result, we were able to produce our best in the crucial final minutes and crown a truly strong comeback. Somehow we ultimately found a way of scoring more points. It’s always important when you win despite playing poorly. That’s the hallmark of a good team.”
Brose Baskets can book their ticket for the final of the German championship by winning the third game in the semi-final against Ratiopharm Ulm on Saturday, May 30, 2015. The game in the Brose Arena tips off at 5 p.m. and will be broadcast live in TV on sport1 and in an Internet stream at telekombasketball.de.