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s.Oliver: Three-point fest in the final period not enough for victory

Frankfurt, 02-25-2017

The game was decided on the very last play – and s.Oliver Würzburg was left waiting for a win again after the Main derby on the 23rd matchday of the German Basketball League. In the sold-out FRAPORT Arena, the club from Lower Franconia carved out a nine-point lead in the fourth period, mainly thanks to the accuracy of Jake Odum (27 points/6 threes) and Maurice Stuckey (15/4), but was not able to hold on to it. FRAPORT SKYLINERS turned the game around with a run of seven points without reply in the last two minutes to win by the narrow margin of 79:76 (34:37).

It was a classic “game of runs”: The lead changed hands a dozen times during the forty minutes and was tied on eight occasions. In an encounter in which both teams displayed a lot of fight and very physical play, it was Frankfurt who initially found its rhythm in attack sooner. In the 6th minute, the later matchwinner Quantez Robertson drained a bucket from beyond the arc to put the Skyliners 12:6 in front. The visitors fought back right away and took the lead for the first time (15:16) after a lay-up plus bonus free throw by Maurice Stuckey in the 9th minute. The evenly poised first period ended with a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Frankfurt’s A.J. English to make it 20:17.

The encounter remained close and hard in the second quarter – Frankfurt initially went 26:22 ahead, then it was the turn of Würzburg (28:30 in the 15th minute). The home side’s next 6:0 spurt to make it 34:30 was countered by the visitors, who produced a 7:0 run – which Maurice Stuckey brought to an end with the first of his four threes to make the score 37:34 for Würzburg at half-time.

The picture was the same after the break: Frankfurt was able to open up a slight gap on several occasions, but Würzburg hit back right away each time. The visitors were also not thrown off their stride by the Skyliners building their largest lead of the game (52:45 in the 28th minute) and responded with a run of eleven points without reply straddling the periods to make it 52:56. With his bucket from downtown at the start of the final period, captain Krešimir Lončar heralded in Würzburg’s strongest spell, in which Maurice Stuckey and in particular playmaker Jake Odum drained one tough three after the other through Frankfurt’s hoop.

Whether with a hand in his face, the shot clock running down or from nine meters – every shot by Jake Odum hit its mark in this phase. He made the score 61:70 in the 35th minute with the fourth of his six threes. However, Würzburg’s highest lead in the encounter was not sufficient to celebrate victory at long last after a string of six successive defeats. In the just over five minutes remaining, the visitors were only able to add two more threes through Odum – the first to make it 66:73 in the 37th minute and another to make it 72:76 in the 39th minute.

The home side managed to turn the game around decisively in the final spell thanks to strong defending and several successful actions in attack. A three by A.J. English put his side 77:76 in front with exactly 71 seconds to go. The situation that decided the encounter then occurred just over a minute later with the score still the same: Quantez Robertson stole the ball from Jake Odum, was fouled and buried both free throws to make it 79:76 with 6.9 seconds left. On the last attack with just 3.2 seconds on the clock, Würzburg was not able to get in a final shot and equalize against the Skyliners’ very aggressive defense.

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