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Brose Bamberg fails in Champions League qualification despite 65:45 lead

Tallinn, 09-15-2021

Brose Bamberg will no longer play internationally in the 2021/2022 season. Coach Johann Roijakkers' team suffered a bitter 79-83 defeat against the Lithuanians from Juventus Utena in the Champions League qualifying tournament in the Estonian capital Tallinn. Bamberg had held a 65-45 lead until the 28th minute.

In Brose Bamberg's first competitive game of the season, the favored Upper Franconians had their opponents under control for 28 minutes, dominating the action with beautiful offensive basketball. Above all, playmaker Frankie Ferrari, who just signed on a few days ago, showed himself to be well integrated, laying on almost half of all Bamberg assists for his teammates and scoring 14 points himself. Point guard Justin Robinson also kept finding his spots and Bamberg was able to gain a slight lead after the first quarter (16:11). Thanks to seven three-pointers, the last before the break by Frankie Ferrari, Bamberg had extended its lead to 43:34 by the change of ends.

After the break, things got even better for the Roijakkers boys: Ferrari hit a lay-up right after the restart, then laid off three times in a row for top scorer Patrick Heckmann (16 points) midway through the third quarter. Heckmann, who returned to Bamberg from Ulm, scored eight points in a row with two three-pointers and a basket to make it 62:43. When Dominik Lockhart increased Bamberg's lead to 20 points with the next long-distance shot (65:45), the Bambergers probably collectively thought the game was decided. But then Utena's brawny playmaker, Patrick Miller, turned up the heat, netting three baskets by the end of the quarter (65:51).

The Bamberg team completely missed the start of the final quarter. Roijakkers first sent four men of his second five onto the court, 3:8 run, the coach took the timeout. But after two Ferrari free throws for 70:59, the coach's words fizzled out again and Bamberg blacked out, especially on defense: 0:13 run, Utena in the lead for the first time in the game. Lockhart's three-pointer and center Martinas Geben (15 points) gave Bamberg another 78-74 lead, but the momentum was now clearly with the Lithuanians: Utena consistently used three Bamberg ball losses in the last two minutes to score and sealed Bamberg's elimination from the Champions League qualification.

Johan Roijakkers (head coach Brose Bamberg): "We played 27 minutes of good basketball, then suddenly stopped and thought the game was over. But it wasn't. Utena is very experienced. The moment they realized they had a chance after all, they pounced and won deservedly in the end because of the last 13 minutes."

Brose Bamberg's first game of the season in the Basketball Bundesliga is scheduled for September 26, 2021. Starting at 3 p.m., Roijakkers' team will be challenged away at BG Göttingen.