Almost nine minutes without scoring from the floor were too much – s.Oliver Würzburg was no longer able to recover from this weak spell in the second half and so went down to a 88:93 (45:46) defeat on the road at Bremerhaven Polar Bears in its final game of the first half of the season in the easyCredit German Basketball League. “You have to play with passion and fight, otherwise you don’t stand a chance in this league,” said Head Coach Doug Spradley. The game’s top scorer was Brendan Lane with 20 points.
Although Krešimir Loncar had recovered from illness and so also joined his teammates on the long journey to the far north of Germany, s.Oliver Würzburg’s captain was still too weakened by it to be able to help his team out for longer than nine minutes. The crowd in Bremerhaven’s Stadthalle saw an encounter between two evenly matched teams from the outset, with the lead changing hands nine or ten times in the first period. The visitors came off better at the end of if it: A bucket from beyond the arc by Loncar and a lay-up by Charles Barton gave Würzburg a four-point lead (18:22).
The Polar Bears equalized right at the start of the second quarter (22:22) and then the game swayed too and fro – 30:30, 39:39, 45:45 –, with the visitors even leading by four at one stage after a three-pointer by Lamonte Ulmer (35:39 in the 17th minute). A free throw by Fabian Bleck put the home side 46:45 ahead at half-time.
No team was able to open up a crucial gap in the third period either – and victory was still up for grabs with the encounter all-square at 60:60 in the 27th minute. There then ensued a nine-minute spell where it seemed as if Bremerhaven’s basket had been boarded up – at least for shots from the floor. Until Marshawn Powell scored a lay-up to make it 78:72 in the 36th minute, the visitors from Lower Franconia managed to add just ten points from free throws from when the scores were tied at 60:60. The Polar Bears were able to capitalize on this weak spell in offense and open up a decisive lead with a 10:0 run between the 28th and 31st minute.
“We scored 88 points – that really ought to be enough to win the game here. Defense is our real problem,” emphasized Maurice Stuckey afterwards. Although he and his teammates tried all they could to turn the game around right to the very end, the Polar Bears always had the right response up their sleeve. When their playmaker Jordan Hulls drained two free throws to make it 87:77 with one minute left, the club from Lower Franconia was only able to put a better complexion on the final result.
Doug Spradley commented:
“At the break I told my players that this game was waiting for a team to play more aggressively and defend harder. My team didn’t do that in the second half, as everyone saw. Of course, I could mention that some players are ill or injured and that we’ve missed one player in our squad for weeks. But those would be excuses. At the end of the day, you simply have to play with passion and fight. If you don’t do that, you don’t stand a chance in this league, especially on the road.”