What a playoff series! Even though Heroes Of Tomorrow did not quite manage to win game 4 in the playoff quarter-finals at EWE Baskets Oldenburg and take the series to a decider in Bayreuth.
Yet the team, fans and entire organization can be more than proud of what the club has achieved. As in the whole of the season, the Heroes Of Tomorrow did not give up at any stage of the fourth quarter-final game in front of another sell-out crowd of 6,000 in the EWE Arena and definitely had a good chance of regaining the home court advantage they lost in game one of the series by winning on the road in Lower Saxony.
In the end, however, it was various small things that tipped the scales in favor of the Thunderbirds. In a thrilling encounter, EWE Baskets came out on top by 94:86 (47:46) and so advanced to the semi-finals of the German championship.
Brief summary of the encounter:
Game 4 began –– once again – with the home side taking the lead: Oldenburg’s power forward Maxime de Zeeuw scored nine points as EWE Baskets surged 11:4 in front in the 4th minute. Then medi got into the game: A bucket from beyond the arc by Linhart cut the deficit to just 10:14 in the 5th minute. Oldenburg struck back and Rickey Paulding likewise scored from downtown. The Thunderbirds were always slightly ahead by a neck after that and then stretched their lead. Philipp Schwethelm made it 26:17 in the 9th minute – the largest margin on the evening. Before the period ended, the Heroes Of Tomorrow reduced the gap to 22:26.
medi remained on the road to success at the start of the second quarter. Bayreuth caught up point by point and De’Mon Brooks cut the lead to 28:30 in the 12th minute. However, Oldenburg now also had the right response. The game remained up for grabs and even tilted Bayreuth’s way briefly: Two threes in succession by Robin Amaize and Nate Linhart put the Heroes Of Tomorrow 44:43 in front in the 18th minute. Shortly before half-time, Lockhart made two free throws to give the club from Lower Saxony a narrow 47:46 lead at the break.
The encounter remained more than tense after the break. The home side was initially able to pull 53:48 ahead in the 24th minute, but medi did not give up. With four minutes left in the period, captain Bastian Doreth reduced the deficit to 59:61, but again Oldenburg hit back right away, once more through Maxime de Zeeuw. However, players in medi’s big positions gradually risked fouling out. De’Mon Brooks conceded his fourth foul. Nevertheless, the players of Head Coach Raoul Korner kept in close touch. Robin Amaize brought the period to a close with a bucket from outside to make it 65:66.
The final quarter began with two 3-point plays by Rickey Paulding and Brian Qvale – and Assem Marei now also had four fouls to his name. In the 35th minute, the game’s top scorer Nate Linhart reduced the deficit to 72:77 with a three, but directly after that Philipp Schwethelm had space to score from beyond the arc (80:72). It was then Kyan Anderson who kept medi in the game, but the home side played it cleverly. Assem Marei had fouled out in the meantime and so Brian Qvale was able to exploit space below the basket: The center made it 87:82 with 84 seconds left on the clock. In the final seconds, the Thunderbirds did not let victory slip from their grasp from the foul line and so advanced to the playoff semi-finals.