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Champions League: Brose Bamberg bounces back to stroll to a 117:76 victory

Bamberg, 03-23-2021

That was more than a sign of life to the Champions League! After two straight defeats in the playoffs, Brose Bamberg is back in contention for a place in the final after steamrollering Casademont Zaragoza 117:76 with a true demonstration of what basketball should be. The team of Head Coach Johan Roijakkers also drained 21 threes – a new Champions League record.

Throughout the 40 minutes, Bamberg impressively underscored that the two opening defeats in the playoffs were due to injury worries and not the quality of its squad. Roijakkers was almost able to field his best team: Only center David Kravish, who has had an outstanding season thus far, had to drop out shortly before the start due to patellar tendonitis. Playmaker Tyler Larson, back after four months out of action due to injury, took his place and even had more time on court (19 minutes) than planned. Even though the American only made two free throws and did not drain any buckets from the floor, he injected security and control of the ball into Bamberg’s moves. Bennet Hundt (12 points) was given more breaks to rest than in past weeks – and that meant his side conceded just eight turnovers in the game compared with an average of 14. Moreover, Bamberg’s defense was rock-solid for the whole 40 minutes and did not – as has often been the case in the past – allow the opposing side to produce a run. The visitors’ longest was five points – on two attacks – in a row, after which it had almost drawn level after Bamberg had moved 13:7 ahead. However, captain Chase Fieler, who notched up 17 points and returned to his old pre-injury form, then drained two shots from downtown and set up Christian Sengfelder beautifully to make it 21:14. It now felt as if Bamberg responded to every bucket by the Spanish club with two of its own – and it maintained a strong mix of shots from outside (11 threes before the break) and drives to the basket. Bamberg built a commanding 55:40 advantage by the break, meaning that it was close to achieving a better aggregate following the 65:77 defeat 14 days previously.

And Bamberg managed that after the break with added zest in its play, duping the visitors’ defense time and again: The extra pass always found its man below the basket and Shevon Thompson, who produced his best game so far (17 points and 9 rebounds) and Chase Fieler finished with spectacular dunks. Michele Vitali kept on adding a three out of his total of six in between; indeed, the top scorer did not miss a shot on his way to a total of 23 points. Bamberg established an 89:56 lead by the end of the third period and, after Zaragoza scored 11 points and conceded just 4 at the start of the final quarter, the home side struck back with an 11:0 run in which Christian Sengfelder (13 points) and Devon Hall (16) chalked up double-digit hauls. Bamberg even kept on humiliating its opponents in the final 30 seconds: Devon Hall drained a bucket from beyond the arc (114:76), made a block against the former Bamberg player Aleix Font, and added another three on the buzzer to make it 117:76: Bamberg’s highest win in its Champions League history.

Johan Roijakkers commented: “Congratulations to my players, who produced a fantastic game. They got off to a stormy start and the storm never abated. They had the right energy in defense over the entire 40 minutes. And even when someone made a mistake, another was there to iron it out. Our energy level never dropped. We had a few problems in that regard at the MBC, where we weren’t always able to stay fully focused all the time. That was a great victory by us, one that keeps our hopes of reaching the final alive.”

Brose Bamberg now welcomes ratiopharm Ulm to the Brose Arena in the German league on Saturday, March 27. The tip-off is at 6 p.m. Bamberg won the game between the two earlier in the season by 74:69.