s.Oliver Würzburg goes into the season’s second break for internationals in ninth place in the table. A 79:69 home victory over the Rockets means the club from Lower Franconia has the same number of wins as ratiopharm ulm and FRAPORT SKYLINERS. The clear victory in the end against the league newcomers from Erfurt was once again due to an all-round team performance.
True to the motto “never change a winning team,” Head Coach Dirk Bauermann began once more with Cliff Hammonds, Maurice Stuckey, Felix Hoffmann, Robin Benzing and captain Kresimir Loncar one week after the commanding home victory over BG Göttingen. The home side also showed from the outset that it had not forgotten the result of the earlier game between the two and was bent on making amends. After just 20 seconds, Cliff Hammonds – who was to finish as top scorer – drained the first beautifully carved-out three to give his side an early lead.
After that, hasty actions kept alternating with successful moves in Würzburg’s attack; however, the home side did not make any slips in defense and so pulled away by the margin of 9:2 in the first five minutes. From then on, the visitors from Thuringia got better into the game, but were not initially able to reduce the deficit. On the contrary: E.J. Singler with a bucket from beyond the arc and Robin Benzing from the foul line made it 19:10 at the end of the first period.
A lay-up by Owen Klassen right at the start of the second quarter put the home side ten points in front for the first time. After a three by Stuckey, Würzburg maintained its highest lead of the encounter (24:13 in the 13th minute). After that, the Rockets managed to force the home side into making repeated mistakes and poor finishing thanks to their greater aggression in defense. It was above all Kresimir Loncar who put up stiff resistance in this spell: Seven points in a row by the captain meant the home side still led by 31:22 in the 17th minute. However, a lay-up with a bonus free throw by Sava Lesic, a bucket from downtown by Andreas Obst and a free throw from Ferdinand Zylka got the Rockets back to 31:29 before the break.
s.Oliver Würzburg went in at half-time with a narrow 34:31 lead – one of the reasons being that the captain of the German national team was luckless in offense before the break and only scored two points: from the foul line. “We knew that Robin wouldn’t have a half like that in attack again. So we just told him to keep on playing aggressively,” said Dirk Bauermann afterwards. And Benzing delivered: After Sava Lesic drained a three and a lay-up to put the Rockets ahead for the first time, the league’s top scorer found his rhythm, scored three times in a row and so turned the game around for the last time.
Cliff Hammonds and Kresimir Loncar added points to make it 57:48. However, the Rockets closed the gap again to 57:53 at the end of the third period thanks to two free throws by Johannes Richter and a buzzer-beating three by Daniel Schmidt. It was again Richter who was even able to cut the deficit to 57:55 with the first action of the final quarter. The Rockets’ comeback was ended by four points by Robin Benzing and the fifth bucket from outside by Cliff Hammonds to make it 64:57 in the 33rd minute.
Maurice Stuckey and Vytenis Lipkevicius stretched the lead to double digits again and so as good as sealed the encounter. Although the Rockets never gave up and even clawed their way back to 73:69 with one minute to go, the home side did not concede any more points, forced the visitors into losing possession twice and drained its free throws in the last 48 seconds to hold on and chalk up its eighth home win of the season.