In the first leg of its first-round encounter in the FIBA Europe Cup on Wednesday, s.Oliver Würzburg suffered a 62:75 (30:31) defeat at the hands of the Turkish club Istanbul BBSK in front of its own crowd. In a game that was fiercely contested over large stretches, the visitors managed to turn a narrow lead into a double-digit one in the final minutes and so give themselves a far better starting position for the second leg this Tuesday.
Yet that certainly did not look on the cards after just under six minutes of play: In the home debut of new signing Robin Benzing, the home side got off to a lightning start in front of around 1,800 spectators in the s.Oliver Arena, forcing the Turkish side’s Head Coach Ertugrul Erdogan to call his first timeout as soon as the 4th minute. By that time, the home side led 9:2 following a bucket from downtown by captain Kresimir Loncar.
The visitors from Istanbul then fought their way back into the game by making six free throws in a row, whereas Würzburg increasingly lost its rhythm in offense after the good start. The first period ended with s.Oliver Würzburg 18:11 ahead.
It then took almost four minutes for the team of Head Coach Dirk Bauermann to put its first points on the board in the second quarter – a three by Maurice Stuckey –, but by that time the Turkish club had produced a run of 12 points without reply to lead 18:22. The game was then very evenly poised up the break and both teams went in with the score at 30:31.
It was again the visitors who next stamped their mark on the game, carving out a 9:0 run between the 25th and 29th minutes to open up a wider gap for the first time (41:50). The club from Lower Franconia struck back right away: Maurice Stuckey drained a bucket from outside as the clock ran down to make it 48:52 at the end of the third period. And the game was still completely up for grabs in the 34th minute after a lay-up by Cliff Hammonds (54:57).
After that, however, Würzburg was no longer able to hit back after the visitors scored. At the death, it was in particular the former Ulm player Jaka Klobucar, the former Frankfurt player Michael Thompson and Deividas Dulkys from Lithuania who stretched the lead to 14 points at one stage and so gave the Turkish representatives an excellent springboard for the second leg this Tuesday (tip-off: 3 p.m. German time).
Dirk Bauermann, Head Coach of s.Oliver Würzburg, noted: “We got off to an excellent start, just as we had resolved to do. Then we lost our rhythm a little and did not always make clever choices. Our chances aren’t really great, but we’re capable of more than what we showed today.”