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s.Oliver Würzburg: Unnecessary nail-biter

Würzburg, 11-02-2019

s.Oliver Würzburg returned to winning ways on the 6th game day of the easyCredit German Basketball League: After a very strong first half in which it built a 17-point lead, the team of Head Coach Denis Wucherer was kept on tenterhooks for a long time against SYNTAINICS MBC before Cameron Wells and Victor Rudd produced an 8:0 run in crunch time to halt the visitors’ comeback and seal their team’s third victory of the season. The top scorer in the encounter was the MBC’s Strahinja Micovic with 26 points. All ten Würzburg players who were used got onto the scoreboard before the break; its top scorers were Jordan Hulls (21), Cameron Wells (16), Victor Rudd (12) and Florian Koch (10).

It took a little over a minute for the two teams to hone their sights in front of 2,877 spectators in the s.Oliver Arena. The first three attempted shots by the visitors and the home side’s first two – all of them from beyond the arc – failed to hit the mark. Then Strahinja Micovic made a lay-up to open the scoring in a quarter in which s.Oliver Würzburg scored off almost every move in offense from the 2nd minute on. After the first two missed shots, Jordan Hulls, Skyler Bowlin, Florian Koch and Rytis Pipiras drained six threes on the next eight efforts and failed just once from its two-point attempts up to the end of the first period.

The visitors from Central Germany were far less accurate from outside and so – after an evenly poised opening spell (13:13 in the 6th minute) – the club from Lower Franconia was able to produce a run of 12 points without reply in the space of just under three minutes to open up a clear gap for the first time – a lead it would not relinquish thereafter. One interesting aspect: Denis Wucherer did not make a substitution until the 7th minute – and then swapped all five players. That did not throw his team off its stride in offense in this spell: Jordan Hulls notched up the next eight points in a row to make it 25:13 in the 8th minute.

Two lay-ups from the “Würzburg Warrior” Felix Hoffmann – one at the end of the first period and one at the start of the second – and a jump shot from Cameron Wells increased the advantage to 36:20 by the 12th minute; nor did the home side let the Wolves from Weißenfels get any closer in the rest of the first half. s.Oliver Würzburg made a total of 16 assists in the first 20 minutes, conceded just one turnover, and chalked up far more twos and threes than the visitors – and so the two teams changed ends with the score at 53:36.

“A very good first half was enough for us to decide the game in our favor today,” said Wucherer afterwards. Yet after his side’s clear lead at half-time, the encounter unnecessarily turned into a nail-biter, as the visitors defended with far greater aggression and the home side suffered slips in concentration, which certainly did not please Wucherer: “The way we played in the second half was unacceptable. In my half-time talk, I said what was working and what we had to do: To keep the pace high and move the ball well. Instead, we actually did everything to give our opponents a chance.”

After the break, s.Oliver Würzburg tried to score mainly off solo actions and rarely managed to carve out good shooting opportunities – as can be seen, among other things, from the fact that it only made five assists in the second half. That was compounded by a poor haul from the foul line: The home side drained just seven free throws out of 15 attempts (46.7 percent) in the third quarter and so helped SYNTAINICS MBC reduce its deficit to single digits by its end (73:64 in the 30th minute).

The visitors resumed their comeback in the fourth period: s.Oliver Würzburg added a meager eight points in the first six minutes of the final quarter, with the result that Jovan Novak cut the gap to 81:77 with a three-point play in the 37th minute. However, Victor Rudd and Cameron Wells then seized the initiative in crunch time: The two Americans produced an 8:0 run that made it 89:77 and helped seal the second home win of the season for the club from Franconia. After three home games in a row, s.Oliver Würzburg is now away at ratiopharm Ulm this Saturday.