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Brose Bamberg loses narrowly to Alba Berlin

Bamberg, 03-31-2019

After 12 successive wins in all competitions, cup winners Brose Bamberg suffered a narrow 66:69 defeat at the hands of Alba Berlin. Unlike in many recent games, the team of Head Coach Federico Perego was not able to step up a gear in the final period; in particular Tyrese Rice, who had been in accurate shooting form in crunch time in the last few encounters, hardly scored at all and missed all of the last five shots.

The defeat means Brose Bamberg has currently fallen back to fourth spot; however, fifth-placed Alba Berlin has played fewer games and so can overtake Bamberg, especially since it has a better aggregate from the direct encounters between the two. Bamberg got off to a strong and buoyant start and it was again Cliff Alexander, whom his teammates set up below the basket with beautiful passes. And the center delivered, bagging six points on the first five attacks to help put Bamberg 10:2 ahead midway through the period. The home side also benefited from its structured defending – Berlin often had to resort to rushed shots from downtown, all of which missed the target. Bamberg stretched the gap to 20:8 thanks to threes by Patrick Heckmann and Bryce Taylor, but that was to be the home side’s widest lead. From the second quarter on, Berlin adapted to Bamberg better in defense and forced the home side to concede many turnovers. Perego’s players went nine attacks without scoring, as Berlin turned the game around with a run of 14 points without reply to move four in front (25:29). However, Cliff Alexander and Tyrese Rice (with his only bucket from the floor) tied the scores at 33:33 at half-time.

The lead changed hands seven times up to the 33rd minute, with buckets tying the score on nine occasions – testimony to a close and exciting encounter. The repeat of the cup final in mid-February was not exactly a revelation in terms of offense, as both defensive ranks were too solid. That meant every single bucket was all the more important. When Berlin opened up a four-point gap again with five minutes remaining (58:62), Bamberg fought to close the deficit to one bucket. The top scorer and top rebounder Cliff Alexander (15 points, 10 rebounds) cut the gap to 64:66, after which Tyrese Rice missed three throws and Berlin made it 64:68 with 30 seconds left on the clock. Since Ricky Hickman (12 points) added a lay-up with 19 seconds to go and Berlin drained only one of its two free throws Bamberg had the last shot with the score at 66:69. Despite a weak percentage of just one out of 13 attempts, Tyrese Rice took the last shot from downtown and missed, with the result that Berlin took the two points home.

Federico Perego commented: “We got off to a good start. Berlin found its rhythm more and more in the course of the game and caused us problems in attack and defense. It’s difficult to win a game when you only score 66 points. At the end we lacked the strength to avert defeat. Our focus is now on the game in Athens on Wednesday.”