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Champions League: Brose Bamberg captures second straight win on the road

Bilbao, 11-10-2020

The second game on the road and a second victory! Brose Bamberg has extended its lead in Champions League Group F thanks to a 77:71 win at RETAbet Bilbao. Although the team of Head Coach Johan Roijakkers relinquished a 12-point lead at the start of the final period, it did not slip up in crunch time, producing a run of seven points without reply.

Unfortunately, Bamberg only turned in a really strong performance in the first half: Roijakkers’ team defended aggressively and forced Bilbao into conceding eight turnovers in the first quarter. A 7:0 run helped Bamberg move 19:7 in front by the end of the period, a lead it extended to 33:15 after 16 minutes with wonderful combinations and a number of spectacular slam-dunks by Kravish and Fieler. The Basque club then got into the game better. In particular, the former FC Bayern giant Ondrej Balvin (2.17m) snapped up a string of rebounds, enabling the home side to score at the second opportunity. Bamberg still put up stiff resistance before the break and its 41:25 advantage seemed to be a comfortable cushion.

Yet as in the German league game in Hamburg two days earlier, Roijakkers’ team was not able to maintain its first-half performance. Its good structure in building plays vanished in the face of more aggressive defending by the home side; moreover, the club from Upper Franconia did not come to terms with Kingsley Moses, whose ten points in the third quarter helped Bilbao close the gap to 54:49. Bennet Hundt and David Kravish managed to keep their side 58:51 ahead going into the final period. It started well: First of all, Devon Hall (10 points) added a lay-up, then Tyler Larson drained a bucket and bonus free throw to make it 63:51. Bamberg’s weakness in rebounding under its own board almost proved its undoing. The Basque team snapped up 19 offensive rebounds and chalked up 16 points off them, whereas Bamberg achieved a weak haul of just three and two points off them in the whole 40 minutes. Bilbao was able to reduce the deficit and tie the scores at 65:65 with four minutes left. Bamberg then focused again on its defense. Devon Hall picked up a rebound, then Kravish passed to Chase Fieler (14 points), who drained Bamberg’s only bucket from downtown in the second half to as good as seal the encounter (71:65). Top scorer David Kravish (18 points) clinched victory with a slam-dunk with ten seconds left on the clock.

Johan Roijakkers commented: “I’m happy about this win on the road. Bilbao made life tough for us the entire 40 minutes, even though you couldn’t tell that from the scoreboard to begin with. We hardly picked up any rebounds, so it was only a matter of time before they got back in the game. But we were focused in defense in the final minutes and made a number of stops and important buckets. Our team very much deserved this second win on the road.”

Since the home game against Niners Chemnitz has been postponed (the visitors have to quarantine due to the coronavirus), Bamberg’s next encounter will not be until Friday, November 20, when it travels to the Arena Hohenlohe to play Crailsheim Merlins (tip-off: 8:30).