It seems that the German champs always need a bit of drama in Gießen. Last season, they lost to the club from Hesse by one point – and yesterday, they trailed by the wide margin of 11:32 after the first period. Yet thanks to steely defense and Darius Miller, who unleashed a sizzling display to score 20 points, they managed to win by 79:77 – their tenth victory in their tenth game in the German league.
The team of Head Coach Andrea Trinchieri has never had to work so hard to win in a German league encounter this season. Travel fatigue from the Euroleague, in which Bamberg faced Istanbul just 48 hours earlier, took its toll: Without Elias Harris (meniscus operation), Vladimir Veremeenko (back problems) and Janis Strelnieks (rested), Trinchieri’s players lacked bite in the first ten minutes. They were often one step too slow and the referees called many fouls against them, whereas Gießen – fired up by the home crowd – shot as if possessed. The score was 11:32 after the first quarter – a gap of 21 points and the highest margin by which Brose Bamberg has trailed in the domestic league under Andrea Trinchieri.
Yet Bamberg managed to stage a comeback after this frustrating start and clinch victory, due to three factors: First, Trinchieri’s team simply did not allow nerves to get the better of it despite the large deficit. With the confidence of true champs, Bamberg’s players stuck to their game in offense despite the boisterous cheers of the 3,200 Gießen fans and so their shooting percentage kept on improving as well. Whereas Nikos Zisis (18 points) scored the only bucket from beyond the arc out of six attempts in the first period, Bamberg made nine out of 19, i.e. almost every second shot from outside, in the next three quarters. Apart from Zisis (4 threes), Daniel Theis (12 points) and Maodo Lo (10) scored twice from downtown. By the final period, Bamberg had fully recovered its accuracy, making six out of seven two-point shots. Second, Bamberg finally started defending like a top European club from the 11th minute on. Gießen was no longer given any easy shots and its shooting percentage dropped from 77 in the first period to 44 in the remainder of the game. And the third reason for Bamberg’s victory was Darius Miller. It is rare to single out an individual player with the sort of team basketball that Bamberg plays, but the American gave his side crucial impetus in Gießen: Whereas he was rested by Trinchieri and given just three minutes on court in the first half, the 26-year-old produced a truly sparkling display in the third period: two lay-ups, two threes and five free throws – 15 points, including the equalizer to make it 54:54 shortly before the end of the third quarter. Because of his fourth foul, Miller did not come back on court until the final three minutes – and promptly scored Bamberg’s last five points to give it a 79:77 victory. The visitors displayed far more aggression in defense in the second half – and Daniel Theis sparked the comeback (23:34, 29:36). It was mainly thanks to Wells (30 points) that Gießen was still ahead at half-time.
After the break, it was then Darius Miller who posed problems for the home side. The American scored 15 points in the third period – and he also tied the game at 54:54 after 27 minutes for the first time since the score stood at 8:8. Nevertheless, the home side went into the final period 59:56 in front. After the buckets from outside by Nikos Zisis and Maodo Lo, Brose Bamberg moved ahead for the first time (64:63) with seven-and-a-half minutes to go. A nail-biter ensued, with the lead changing hands 13 times until 22 seconds were left on the clock. After Miller’s three-point play, Thomas Scrubb struck back to make it 77:77. Bamberg had 7.6 seconds for its last attack: With 0.6 seconds to go, Darius Miller jumped at the foul line and, to the jubilation of the 70 Bamberg fans who had made the journey, drained the shot clinically to give his side victory.
Andrea Trinchieri commented: “It’s difficult to have to play at this high level every 48 hours. We had a tough trip behind us, come here and are soon trailing by 20 points. But I know I’ve put together a good group of players, who then started playing in defense and turned the game around. The players from the bench made a big contribution. We didn’t put on a good display, but did what we needed to win. We’ve come away with a good win over a strong opponent.”
German champions Brose Bamberg face their next challenge at home in the Euroleague on Tuesday, November 15, when Red Star Belgrade visits the Brose Arena (tip-off: 8 p.m.).