Who would have thought it possible when the groups for the Basketball Champions League were drawn in mid-July of last year? After the 14th matchday, medi bayreuth has qualified for the playoffs by finishing fourth in the table with a record of eight wins and six defeats.
The Heroes Of Tomorrow will now face one of the winners from the other three groups – either AS Monaco (FRA), Iberostar Teneriffa (ESP) or Beşiktaş Sompo Japan Istanbul (TUR) – at the beginning of March. The individual playoff games will be drawn on February 14.
AEK quickly went ahead, but then medi struck back, with De’Mon Brooks draining a bucket from beyond the arc (11:5 after just under four minutes). The encounter was very fast-paced in the first period and the Heroes Of Tomorrow initially benefited from the opposing side’s weak finishing. In offense, medi bayreuth used the space given to it under the basket to capitalize on its second chance to score, especially in the final spell of the first quarter. As a result, it was quickly able to turn the game around after AEK went 18:17 ahead through free throws from Mike Green. Nate Linhart and Robin Amaize made it 21:18 for medi after the first ten minutes.
The game also remained tight at the start of the second period, although AEK got off to the better start. The Greek club produced a run of six points without reply to come from 22:25 behind and take a 28:25 lead. After Raoul Korner called a timeout, an end-to-end affair ensued and once again the Heroes Of Tomorrow had clear advantages in rebounding. When Steve Wachalski made it 33:31, AEK called a timeout. Yet medi continued to step up the pace until the break and, after another three by De’Mon Brooks to make it 38:32, took a 40:33 lead in with it at half-time.
When the game restarted, Gabe York scored his first points of the evening from the floor: Two quick threes helped put his side 49:37 in front. Fired on by its enthusiastic fans, Athens now grew in strength, in particular in defense. Nevertheless, medi managed to stretch the gap to 14 points. However, the Greek club hit back with a 9:2 run to reduce the deficit to 49:56 by the 28th minute: Dusan Sakota, who had a weak game to begin with, scored from downtown. Yet Bayreuth countered with an important three, when captain Bastian Doreth stretched the gap to 11 points again.
The Heroes Of Tomorrow went into the final period with a nine-point lead, but it soon melted away. Two buckets from outside and a three-point play by Delroy James meant AEK trailed by just one (68:69), but medi bayreuth hit back again with a three from Brooks. However, Athens’ very agile defense now frustrated medi again and again, blocking a total of ten shots and causing Bayreuth to lose possession. At the other end, Manny Harris and Dusan Sakota took control of the game and reduced the deficit to 77:78. After three successful free throws by Linhart to make it 81:77, a bucket from downtown by Panagiotis Vasilopoulos and another by Dusan Sakota with seven seconds left on the clock sealed the encounter in favor of the Greek club by the margin of 83:81.