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s.Oliver Würzburg just three points away from advancing to the next round

Wuerzburg, 09-26-2017

In the end, the deficit from the first leg was a little too large: s.Oliver Würzburg was able to win the second leg in the first qualification round of the FIBA Europe Cup at Istanbul BBSK by the clear margin of 76:65, but still failed narrowly to capture a spot in the second round. The visitors from Turkey had won the first game in the s.Oliver Arena by 75:62 and so finished up with two points more on aggregate than the club from Lower Franconia.

Up to the end of the third period, the second leg was almost a carbon copy of the first encounter last Wednesday: Everything went like clockwork for s.Oliver Würzburg at both ends of the court, with the result that it managed to build a clear lead in the course of the first quarter. After a 7:0 start thanks to the two captains Cliff Hammonds and Kresimir Loncar, Maurice Stuckey and Abdul Gaddy added the visitors’ next 12 points to give their side its first double-digit lead in the 7th minute. There was also no change in that gap after 16 minutes of play, but then the home side got better into the game thanks to a strong spell by its playmaker Michael Thompson and was able to reduce the deficit to 33:35 by half-time.

It was again Würzburg who initially turned on the screws after the break. New signing Robin Benzing scored his first points for his club with a bucket from downtown (35:42 in the 22nd minute) and followed that up a little later with four more points to make it 41:46. However, s.Oliver Würzburg was then not able to add a single point to its tally in the remainder of the third period. Istanbul exploited that spell and, after producing a run of 7 points without reply, led 48:46 – or by 15 points on aggregate. Yet even trailing by what seemed an insuperable deficit did not cause the players of Head Coach Dirk Bauermann to let their heads drop. Kresimir Loncar regained the lead for his side with a three in the 33rd minute, after which Cliff Hammonds drained another bucket from beyond the arc (53:57).

That sparked a strong final spurt by the visitors that almost produced an upset: Top scorer Maurice Stuckey (21 points/3 threes) and Abdul Gaddy scored twice from way out again in the 38th minute to make it 59:72 – and tie the scores on aggregate.

Things then got really dramatic in the final minute: With the score at 61:72, Maurice Stuckey twice had the chance to drain a three and so give s.Oliver Würzburg the crucial 14-point lead it needed, but he only hit the hoop both times. At the other end, he then fouled out and had to sit out the rest of the game.

The team that would advance to the second qualification round was not decided until the final second: First of all, the recuperated DJ Richardson drained a bucket from outside in his first competitive game for the visitors to make it 64:76, then the Serbian Stefan Bircevic, who won the silver medal with his team at the European Championships, stepped up to the foul line. Bircevic drained the first one to make it 65:76 and then threw the second against the hoop so as to run down the final second that remained on the clock.

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