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Brose Bamberg captures two-point lead for the return leg

Bamberg, 03-06-2019

That was a very close affair. Brose Bamberg won its encounter against Banvit Bandirma in the last sixteen of the Champions League by the wafer-thin margin of 81:79 in front of 5,300 fans in the Brose Arena. Since there are two legs, the team of Head Coach Federico Perego can afford to lose by one point at most in the return game in the Turkish port city in a week’s time if it wants to advance to the quarter-finals.

Both teams entered the encounter with a record of 9 wins and 5 defeats from the group stage and had previously impressed with very similar scoring averages in the Champions League season so far (82.3 and 82.1 points per game). So it was no surprise that neither team was able to open up a gap of more than five points. Abetted by the many turnovers conceded by Bamberg in the first period, Banvit went 17:12 in front. However, Elias Harris confirmed his strong form at the moment and turned the game around, smashing home a superb slam-dunk to put Bamberg 23:18 ahead. However, the home side gave the visitors too much space below the basket in the second quarter, Banvit snapped up a lot of offensive rebounds, and so Bamberg deprived itself of the rewards for what had actually been a good display by it in defense. The two teams went in at half-time with the score at 45:46.

The visitors stretched their lead after the break, forcing Perego to call a timeout with his side trailing 47:51 so as to reorientate his players. Elias Harris (19 points) equalized with two lay-ups in succession, after which both teams traded blows in offense up to the end of the third period. The lead changed hands seven times, with Ricky Hickman (12 points) making it 64:63 with five seconds left in the period. Bamberg’s thoughts were already on the break and so Banvit’s McKenzie Moore drained a three from the center line while completely unchallenged: 64:66, clearly the most avoidable points by the visitors in the whole game. Bamberg tried to close that gap throughout the fourth period, with Banvit scoring and the home side following suit. The Turkish club then took a three-point lead (73:76), largely due to the home side’s below-par 3-point field goal percentage: Perego’s team had drained 38 percent of all shots from downtown in the Champions League going into the game, but only managed a meager two out of 17 in the first 38 minutes against Banvit. All the same: Top scorer Tyrese Rice (20 points) buried his second three to put his side 78:76 ahead with 100 seconds remaining. Bandirma snatched the lead again, but Augustine Rubit (14 points) struck back with a lay-up and free throw to seal victory for Bamberg.

Federico Perego commented: “It was the tough game we expected. Our problem was we gave them too many second chances, which they capitalized on mercilessly. They picked up 15 extra points that way in the first half alone, because we simply rebounded poorly. But all in all I’m happy with the way we dealt with the situation.”