For the second time in succession, German champions and cup winners Brose Bamberg have dumped arch-rivals FC Bayern Munich out of the playoffs with a 3:0 sweep in the semi-final. A fiercely contested 76:67 victory in the sold-out Brose Arena means the title-holders have advanced to the final of the German championship, where they will face Oldenburg or Ulm.
Unlike the 65:96 debacle in the third game of the series exactly a year ago, however, the challengers from Munich tried everything in their might to avert the impending clean sweep. The team of Head Coach Andrea Trinchieri was always trailing slightly until a bucket from downtown by Fabien Causeur made it 11:10 after seven minutes. Daniel Theis (10 points) added two strong slam-dunks after wonderful passes by Nikos Zisis to make it 17:14, but Munich soon tied the scores. In what was a physical game, Bamberg was disgruntled with the referees’ line in the second period, especially under the basket – Bayern picked up nine points from the foul line. Bamberg was 30:36 behind midway through the second quarter and was not able to reduce the deficit very much by half-time (40:45).
After the break, the encounter was more like a war of attrition with many fouls. Both teams stepped up their intensity in defense. Bamberg kept Bayern down to just two points in six minutes and was able to tie the scores at 47:47 thanks to a three and two free throws by Janis Strelnieks (13 points). The agile Lucic put Bayern back in front at the end of the third period (54:56), but the momentum was now with Bamberg: Whereas Bayern found Bamberg’s defense tough to crack and failed to score for three minutes, Strelnieks added free throws and top scorer Fabien Causeur (17 points) two lay-ups in a row to put their side 60:56 in front. The home side did not let this narrow lead slip. Bayern cut the gap to 68:66 with two minutes to go, after which Nicolo Melli (8 points) twice played a textbook pass to Nikos Zisis (14) and Darius Miller (11) – their two buckets from outside helped Bamberg produce an 8:1 run in the final seconds and claim its place in the final.
Andrea Trinchieri commented: “That was an incredible game. The crowd saw two teams who fought to the end. Bayern squeezed the every last drop out of us and put up a magnificent fight. We were able to step up our performance in defense in the second half, with the result that Bayern only scored 11 points in each quarter after the break. They was the key to victory.”
The first game in the final of the German championship is on Whitsunday, June 4, 2017 (tip-off: 3 p.m.). Depending on the opponent, Trinchieri’s team will either be at home (if Oldenburg wins the other semi-final) or travel to the ratiopharm Arena (if Ulm wins).