The game in Würzburg’s home cauldron on Sunday turned into a real nail-biter: s.Oliver Würzburg won at home by the narrow margin of 68:67 (41:26) against FRAPORT SKYLINERS after a thrilling final spell and has now moved into eighth in the easyCredit German Basketball League. After a game of two completely different halves, it was Jordan Hulls who sealed Würzburg’s third win in a row by draining two free throws with 8.6 seconds left on the clock. The encounter’s outstanding player was Cameron Wells, who made key shots in the crucial phases, notched up a total of 24 points and made six assists.
Head Coach Denis Wucherer had predicted a tough battle in the Main derby and so it turned out: Although the visitors from Frankfurt were only able to call on four non-German players after the departure of Anthony Hickey, they fought intensively from the outset. s.Oliver Würzburg quickly got into its stride in attack and was 11:5 in front after just over three minutes, but it was not able to enjoy that lead for long: The league’s top scorer Lamont Jones and his in-form teammate Shaquille Hines together chalked up 15 points in the first ten minutes and kept their side in the game singlehandedly early on. Würzburg’s new signing Junior Etou was then able to get on the score sheet with the final action of the first period: The 25-year-old drained a three from the left corner to make it 19:17.
At the start of the second quarter, the former Würzburg player Leon Kratzer put the SKYLINERS back in front with two lay-ups (19:21) – the seventh and also the last time the lead would change hands. Then the home side stepped up a gear or two in defense, stopped Frankfurt from scoring for the next five-and-a-half minutes and produced a run of ten points without reply to surge 29:21 ahead in the 17th minute. Würzburg’s attacks also went well in the remaining three-and-a-half minutes of the first half and so it was able to stretch its advantage to 41:26 by the break.
The crowd then saw a completely different picture in the second half: The visitors from Frankfurt stepped up their intensity and fought their way back into the game point by point. Cameron Wells, Johannes Richter, Florian Koch and Luke Fischer put up stout resistance and so the home side retained a clear lead up to the 29th minute (55:42), but then Lamont Jones drained a mid-range jump short and Richard Freudenberg a three to cut the deficit to single digits before the end of the third period (55:47). Freudenberg added his next bucket from beyond the arc at the start of the fourth quarter, causing Denis Wucherer to call a timeout with the scores at 55:50.
“After the break we were unable to find our rhythm in offense, which was naturally also due to Frankfurt’s defending,” said Wucherer afterwards: “At the end of the day, we won the thing thanks to Cameron Wells’ mid-range shots. We didn’t come up with many more ideas than that in the second half. We’ll work on that particular aspect in training before the games against Ludwigsburg and in Bamberg.”
Frankfurt twice closed the gap to five points in the final five minutes, but Wells struck back twice by burying his mid-range jump shots to interrupt the comeback. In addition, the home side produced a number of good actions in defense in crunch time, such as a block by Junior Etou against Lamont Jones as the latter was taking a jump shot in the 38th minute. Nevertheless, things got really exciting again in the final minute: Although the home side regained possession immediately after an offensive foul by Jordan Hulls by preventing Frankfurt from carrying the ball over the center line within eight seconds, Cameron Wells was then stopped while making a lay-up and Quantez Robertson went down the other end to drain a three and make it 66:64 with 14.4 seconds remaining.
With 8.6 seconds to go, it was then Jordan Hulls who buried both free throws after a tactical foul by the visitors to make it 68:64 and so seal victory – Richard Freudenberg’s subsequent three could only put a better complexion on the final score.
s.Oliver Würzburg now faces another home game, when second-placed MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg visits the s.Oliver Arena this Saturday (tip-off: 8:30 p.m.).