More could have been possible! Brose Bamberg has also lost its second away game in the Champions League playoffs, this time by 65:77 to last year’s semi-finalists Casademont Zaragoza. The team of Head Coach Johan Roijakkers produced a strong first half, but a poor 3-point field goal percentage and too many turnovers thwarted any chance of victory.
The preparation for the away game was probably the most unusual in Bamberg’s basketball history: Since it had returned from the Czech Republic, a coronavirus risk area, eight days previously, the entire squad had to self-isolate and the players could only do fitness training by video. A negative coronavirus test meant that all the players and coaches were able to come out of quarantine on the Sunday, but of all people top scorer Devon Hall twisted his ankle in the final training session on Monday. The playmaker was thus added to the list of injured players, joining his teammates Tyler Larson and Joanic Grüttner-Bacoul, who have both been out for some time, and Dominic Lockhart, all of whom remained in Bamberg. Roijakkers’ team got off to a weak start in offense and conceded 7 points without reply, after which David Kravish was brought on and got his side off the mark in the fifth minute. Bennet Hundt (11 points), who had to play the entire 40 minutes due to the fact that Hall was missing, trained a bucket from downtown to put the visitors 9:7 ahead, but then Zaragoza produced its next 0:7 run to move 9:14 in front. In particular due to top scorer David Kravish, who notched up 10 of his 17 points before the break, Bamberg was now always in close contention thanks to attentive defending but was not able to open up a gap. Just three out of 17 attempted threes dropped, while eight turnovers resulted in a number of easy points for the Spanish club to leave Bamberg 31:33 behind at half-time.
However, Roijakkers’ players did not get into their stride after the break, were less attentive in defense at times and allowed their opponents to suddenly snap up twice as many offensive rebounds than in the first half. And the home side, in particular the former Bamberg player Elias Harris (17 points), capitalized on those mistakes and slowly pulled 47:56 in front in the third period. In the final quarter, Bamberg could also find no antidote to Zaragoza, which led at one stage by 14 points (54:68). Michele Vitali, who had drained just one out of eight shots up to that point, managed to keep the deficit modest with his seven points in the last three minutes, which may be important in terms of the direct comparison after the second leg.
Johan Roijakkers commented: “We had problems finding our rhythm in the first seven minutes. That was to be expected when being quarantined means you can only train once in seven days. Our intensity and rebounding kept us in the game. We ran out of breath in the second half, as Zaragoza maintained an extremely high pace over 40 minutes. Nevertheless, we played well, especially in defense. If we’d scored a bit better, we’d have been able to carve out a lead in the first half. Then the game would have turned out differently.”
Brose Bamberg now faces a game on the road at Telekom Baskets Bonn in the German league on Saturday, March 13 (tip-off: 8:30 p.m.). Bamberg won the game between the two earlier in the season by 80:66.