medi Bayreuth is still on course to qualify for the playoffs after the third game day in the second group stage of the FIBA Europe Cup. The team of Head Coach Raoul Korner won on the road against the ten times Belgian champions Spirou Basket Charleroi by 97:90 (44:44) in front of a crowd of some 500 in the Spiroudome on Wednesday evening to draw level in the table again with Benfica Lisbon and Bakken Bears, who each have two wins and one loss.
After what was all in all a pretty evenly poised first half, the HEROES OF TOMORROW were able to open up a clear gap for the first time in the third period. The team of captain Bastian Doreth built a 15-point advantage, after which the home side was able to reduce the deficit again. Whereas top scorer Anthony Beane was hardly able to make a mark on the evening thanks to fine covering by medi, Kenneth Smith notched up a triple-double of 20 points, ten rebounds and ten assists. Yet his performance was ultimately not enough for the Belgian club to win against a very focused medi team, whose top scorer was Reid Travis (22 points).
It was clear after Benfica Lisbon’s home victory over Bakken Bears (90:79) that medi had to win in Charleroi to keep in touch with these two clubs in Group I. Raoul Korner’s starting five of Doreth, Woodard, Linhart, Meisner and Seiferth again included three German players and it produced a really strong display in the opening spell. Although it initially seemed as if the home side has found its rhythm faster, medi refused to be thrown off its stride by the fast pace Spirou started with and stuck to its game plan – which in the first period repeatedly comprised feeding Andreas Seiferth. medi’s center caused big problems for his opponent Josh Sharma, forced the latter to concede two fouls and amassed a haul of 11 points in the first quarter. Nevertheless, the Belgian club mostly led by a narrow margin. After Bayreuth failed to foul Kenneth Smith in the final seconds of the first period (medi had not yet reached its team foul limit), the American playmaker exploited the opportunity to drain a bucket from outside and make it 26:21 after ten minutes.
Yet the HEROES OF TOMORROW quickly closed the deficit in less than 60 seconds at the start of the second period, after which a completely open game ensued. Whereas medi’s defense kept a pretty good grip on Spirou’s top scorer Anthony Beane, Kenneth Smith stepped up to the plate for the Belgian club. As in the first period, he brought the second to an end with a bucket from downtown to make it 44:44 at half-time.
The 26-year-old with his triple-double was without doubt the most conspicuous player on court in the end, but it was medi Bayreuth that took the spoils. Whereas Andreas Seiferth drove medi’s attacking play in the first period, that role was first assumed by James Woodard and then Reid Travis in the second half. This trio also ended up as Bayreuth’s top scorers: Seiferth bagged 17 points (11 in the first period), Woodard 18 (11 in the third) and Travis 22 (13 in the fourth).
As in its recent German league encounters, the HEROES OF TOMORROW stepped up the pressure right after the break and turned the game in their favor. Whereas the rebounding duel was evenly poised in the first half, Seiferth, Travis & Co. finished up winning it by 44:33 to take what was all in all a deserved win on the road thanks to a fine all-round team performance.
Since the team of Head Coach Raoul Korner has been eliminated from the Magenta Sport German cup, it now has a free weekend, before facing another encounter in the easyCredit German Basketball League on Friday, January 17, when the HEROES OF TOMORROW travel to the ratiopharm arena to meet ratiopharm Ulm (tip-off: 8:30 p.m.).