After 21 long years, the Heroes Of Tomorrow have again given the sporting city of Bayreuth the chance to stage a playoff game. And it was a high-class first game in the quarter-final series in the easyCredit German Basketball League between medi bayreuth and EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Whereas Bayreuth was without the injured Andreas Seiferth, the club from Lower Saxony was able to field its best team and decided the fiercely contested opening encounter in the best-of-five series by the narrow margin of 85:83 (40:48) in front of 3,300 spectators in the sold-out Oberfrankenhalle.
Brief summary of the encounter:
Playoffs in Bayreuth – and the atmosphere in the Oberfrankenhalle was even a bit more special than otherwise. The Heroes Of Tomorrow began nervously and it was not until the third minute that they off the mark, by when the visitors were already 5:0 ahead. Assem Marei reduced the deficit and then Nate Linhart drained a bucket from beyond the arc to tie the scores – and the team were right in the game. A further three, this time from Kyan Anderson, put medi 14:11 in front in the 7th minute – and the home side kept up the pressure. The gap grew to 18:11 in the 9th minute, after which Oldenburg caught up a little.
The period ended with Bayreuth leading by 22:17. De’Mon Brooks and Robin Amaize stretched the gap and, after a bucket from downtown by Steve Wachalski, Bayreuth led by double digits for the first time (29:19 in the 14th minute). medi was not only defending well now, but also dominating its strong opponent. With 92 seconds left in the first half, Trey Lewis was fouled when attempting a shot from outside and scored all three free throws to make it 48:32 – the highest lead of the evening. Oldenburg reduced the deficit again with two threes by Maxime De Zeeuw and Frantz Massenat and went in at half-time trailing by 40:48.
The game got tighter in the third period. Oldenburg scored from the three-point line and Vaughn Duggins became the energizer for his team. The Heroes Of Tomorrow maintained their lead until the 28th minute, then – after a three by Schwethelm – Rickey Paulding put his side 61:60 ahead, forcing Bayreuth to call a timeout. Now it was a really good playoff game in which the lead changed hands several times. medi bayreuth was still ahead after 30 minutes after Steve Wachalski drained a buzzer-beating three from well outside (67:65).
Vaughn Duggins made sure that the momentum did not stay with Bayreuth, scoring Oldenburg’s first seven points in the final period. Brian Qvale put his team ahead with one of his rare threes, but medi struck back right away. After a bucket from downtown by Chris Kamer (80:76 in the 37th minute), Anderson’s free throws and the strong Assem Marei tied the scores at 80:80. The game turned into a defensive battle in the subsequent two-and-half minutes and in the end it was small things that decided it in the visitors’ favor. A bucket by Vaughn Duggins and a free throw by Kramer put the visitors 85:82 in front, then Nate Linhart was awarded two free throws. He buried the first one, but intentionally missed the second so as to be able to snap up the rebound. However, he started running from the line too soon and so the bucket was disallowed.
Game two in the quarter-final is this Thursday in Oldenburg (tip-off: 6:30 p.m.). The Heroes Of Tomorrow then have only one goal: to tie the series!