After the incredible finale to the home game against Tübingen, the encounter between ALBA BERLIN and medi bayreuth on the 27th matchday in the easyCredit German Basketball League was not for spectators with weak nerves. Once again, just a single point separated the two teams in the end.
However, this time it was the opponents of Head Coach Raoul Korner’s team that had their nose slightly ahead. Yet medi bayreuth was also able to take something positive away from the narrow 76:77 (31:28) defeat in front of a crowd of 10,881 in the Mercedes Benz Arena: It has a better aggregate than Berlin following its 98:96 win in the game between the two earlier in the season.
Going into the game, many fans hoped that there would be touch of playoff atmosphere and they were not to be disappointed. Both teams set to work with a great deal of focus and commitment. Both Raoul Korner and his opposite number Ahmet Caki had clearly aimed to shore up their defense first and foremost. Due to the high degree of intensity in defense, neither team really got into its rhythm in attack. ALBA and medi invested a lot throughout the game, with the result that it turned into an interesting and evenly poised encounter, one that – like the earlier game between the two – was not decided until the death. This time it was nuances that tipped the scales in favor of Berlin in a game that definitely deserved the label “playoff” and that fans may well be able to look forward to in the quarter-final series.
Brief summary of the encounter
In the opening minutes, the almost 11,000 spectators saw two nervous sides that had to find their game to begin with. De’Mon Brooks put his team 6:2 in front in the 5th minute, but ALBA struck back quickly and took the lead for the first time through Dragan Milosavljevic (7:6 in the 6th minute). Nate Linhart recaptured it with a bucket from outside (11:9 in the 8th minute).
medi got off to an almost perfect start to the second quarter: Trey Lewis added five straight points, then Andreas Seiferth and David Gonzalvez completed the 9:0 run (22:10 in the 13th minute). However, ALBA had the right reply by scoring five points in succession and then catching up point by point. After a bucket from downtown by Carl English (20:24 in the 16th minute) and successful free throws by Kikanovic, Dragan Milosavljevic tied the encounter at 24:24 in the 18th minute to the cheers of the crowd. It was mainly thanks to Steve Wachalski, who scored five important points toward the end of the half, that medi nevertheless went in leading by 31:28.
The opening spell after the break also belonged to medi. From Berlin’s in-bounds pass, it took Bayreuth just thee seconds to add its first points in the second half: Assem Marei intercepted it and Kyan Anderson sprinted to ALBA’s basket. A further three by Lewis put medi eight points in front (41:33) in the 25th minute. However, the Albatrosses soon got within striking distance after calling a timeout. A bucket from outside by Malcolm Miller sparked a run of seven points without reply that caused Bayreuth’s lead to dwindle to 45:41 in the 28th minute. Niels Giffey tied the scores at 46:46 shortly before the end of the period, but the last shot by Nate Linhart put medi back in front.
The game picked up pace once and for all in the final quarter, as both teams produced an evenly poised contest – a true taste of things to come in the playoffs. Malcolm Miller put Berlin in front again for the first time since the first period (49:48 in the 32nd minute), after which the lead changed hands on virtually every attack. Dragan Milosavljevic put ALBA ahead with a three (57:55 in the 35th minute) and stretched it to 61:57 in the 36th minute. Two minutes later, he drained two free throws to make it 67:62. Yet the game was far from decided, since Bayreuth struck back with a few threes. Whereas Milosavljevic exhibited nerves of steel from the foul line and became the matchwinner, several threes from in some cases impossible situations meant that Kyan Anderson’s buzzer beater from the center line at least gave medi Bayreuth the better aggregate from the direct encounters between the two clubs.