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Champions League: Brose Bamberg’s team of youngsters puts up a good fight

Sassari, 04-08-2021

The situation going into the final game of the playoffs in the Champions League was clear: No matter how the encounter at Dinamo Sassari ended, it would be curtains on the European stage this season for both clubs. Bamberg’s Head Coach Johann Roijakkers therefore gave many of his regulars a rest and fielded an unusually young side. And the “team of youngsters” put up a good fight despite losing by 72:83.

Bamberg used a charter flight to travel abroad for the first time this season, leaving for Sardinia early in the morning and returning in the evening right after the game – a quick round trip spanning less than 20 hours. And since it faced an important game in Bayreuth barely 48 hours later, the coaching team left top scorers Devon Hall and David Kravish, as well as the recently recuperated Chase Fieler and Tyler Larson, in Bamberg along with Christian Sengfelder, who has a shoulder injury. Michele Vitali, top scorer in the game between the two last week, was also on the flight, but was likewise rested against his former club. One of their replacements was the 18-year-old playmaker Elias Baggette making his international debut – and he showed flashes of his talent in his 20 minutes on court, notching up six points, four assists, three steals and a rebound. The two other players from Coburg with a dual license – Moritz Plescher, who made 11 points, and top scorer Mateo Seric (16), played for a long time and both chalked up a double-digit haul for the first time on the international stage. Nevertheless, Roijakkers’ players initially found the going tough against a home side fielding its best team. The Italian club was superior in particular in the rebounding department and often capitalized on offensive rebounds to add easy points. Bamberg trailed by double digits after eight minutes and lost the first period by 14:25. The young Bamberg team then proved to be more than a match, especially after the break: It trailed by 30:44 at half-time, but Plescher drained a bucket from downtown, Grüttner-Bacoul made a slam-dunk and Seric and Baggette added lay-ups in a run that cut the deficit to 39:47, as Bamberg took the third period by 23:21. At the start of the final quarter, Kenneth Ogbe and Bennet Hundt (11 points apiece) and Seric once more reduced the gap to single figures (61:69), but from then until the final buzzer the Italian club punished even the slightest slips by the youngsters.

Johan Roijakkers commented:
“We left a number of players behind in Bamberg and didn’t overextend the others from the usual rotation. Instead, our young players had a lot of time on court and showed that we may need them. Elias Baggette on his Champions League debut showed he’s a good player. I’m proud at how the young Bamberg players acquitted themselves. After all, we won the second half.”

Brose Bamberg now faces a tough game on the road in the German league at medi Bayreuth on Saturday, April 10, 2021 (tip-off: 8:30 p.m.). After losing the home game between the two earlier in the season by 67:73, Bamberg has to win to keep its opponent at arm’s length in the table.