BBC Coburg has notched up an important victory in the battle to qualify for the playoffs in the BARMER ProB South 2nd German Basketball League by defeating Depant GIESSEN 46ers Rackelos on the road by 88:82 (46:41) – although the return journey from Gießen took much longer than hoped.
The Coburg squad arrived back at Lauterer Höhe at 2:42 on Epiphany morning, tired but happy about the successful start to the year. The win in Gießen means the BBC has now climbed to fourth in the table and has the better aggregate from the direct encounters between it and the club from Central Hesse, Speyer and Frankfurt – a major step toward advancing to the playoffs.
The atmosphere in the Sporthalle Ost was pretty heated. Just over 25 Coburg fans, including the HSC’s Head Coach Jan Gorr, who hails from Gießen, cheered on the BBC boisterously, but could only watch on as the home side got off to the better start to leave Coburg trailing by 1:10 midway through the first period. Gießen gave the impression that it wanted to make amends for the defeat earlier in the season, while the BBC did not manage to score from the floor. However, Constantin Ebert then passed to Tidjan Keita from just behind the center line and the Frenchman sprang into the air and smashed the ball through the hoop in spectacular fashion. Keita followed that up with his next slam-dunk a few seconds later – Coburg was back in the game. With two seconds remaining in the quarter, Ebert stole an in-bounds pass by the 46ers and drained a buzzer-beating three on the turn in his opponent’s face to make it 24:21 after ten minutes.
Coburg then also tightened up its defense in the second period, forcing Gießen to concede two turnovers as the home side failed to get out of its own half within eight seconds. The team of Head Coach Ulf Schabacker held on to its narrow lead in an exciting end-to-end affair in which both teams traded blows and went in with a 46:41 advantage at the break.
And the BBC came back out brimming with energy: First of all, Ebert scored from the corner, then captain Christopher Wolf drained two buckets from downtown to force Gießen to call a timeout (55:41 in the 22nd minute). Although Coburg stopped the home side from scoring for four minutes, the growing foul count caused problems: The outstanding Princeton Onwas committed his fourth foul midway through the third quarter and was taken off for the time being by way of precaution. He joined Moritz Bär and Tidjan Keita, who were likewise on the brink of fouling out. That hardly made things easier for Coburg. Only the fact that Gießen squandered its chances pretty negligently prevented the visitors from slipping behind. The BBC was able to take a 62:59 advantage into the final period. Yet although Onwas had a high foul count to his name, he now came into his own, setting up Wolf to score a three and himself adding a bucket from beyond the arc in his opponent’s face in an emphatically casual manner. The American player finished up with a total haul of 15 points in the final quarter. When Keita slammed the ball through the hoop to make it 83:75 with 90 seconds left, the encounter was decided.
“We’re turning more and more into an away team – and that’s fine, although of course it’s not so thrilling for our home fans,” said Schabacker jokingly afterwards. “Today’s encounter had everything. When the game was on a knife’s edge, we defended stably and were able to launch one or two fast attacks. That’s an enormous step forward for us. Now we can travel to Hanau with a bit more reassurance.”
And on the subject of traveling: Coburg’s team bus broke down on the way back, meaning the players faced an involuntary stay at the Rhön service station and arrived home over two-and-a-half hours later than planned in a replacement bus that was swiftly dispatched from Coburg – but, despite the long trip, in a good mood thanks to the victory and two points.