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s.Oliver Würzburg loses 79:81 to Dinamo Sassari in the second leg of the FIBA Europe Cup final

Würzburg, 05-01-2019

A crowd of 3,140, including a considerable number of fans from Sardinia, ensured – like a week ago in Sassari – an atmosphere to befit the occasion from the moment the teams were introduced and throughout the entire 40 minutes. Both teams once again produced a high-class game with many spectacular actions, but its was the visitors from Italy who had that bit more energy they needed to run out narrow winners and capture their first European title. One main factor was that Denis Wucherer is now without Johannes Richter, who underwent an operation on his elbow, as well as top scorer Jordan Hulls (due to a rib injury) for the rest of the season. “That meant we had a shorter rotation – and that hurt us today,” said the Head Coach after the encounter, in which his team was ahead for 32 minutes, whereas Sassari only led for just under six-and-a-half minutes.

There were absolutely no signs that either team was lacking energy in the first half. Both began with a lot of intensity and confidence and the game was tied at 10:10 and completely evenly poised after just over three minutes. However, the home side was then able to open up a small gap for the first time. A slam-dunk by Mike Morrison, a jump shot from Cameron Wells and three free throws by Devin Oliver made it 17:12 in the 6th minute and so meant that the final was tied on aggregate (s.Oliver Würzburg had lost 84:89 in Sassari). Wucherer’s players were able to stretch the lead to 26:19 and so go ahead narrowly overall by the end of the first period.

They even extended that to double digits for the first time in the second quarter (39:29 in the 17th minute), but like in the first game they could not really shake off the visitors from Sardinia at any time. Sassari was able to reduce the deficit to 46:41 by half-time and so both teams were again tied again on aggregate (130:130) before the final twenty minutes of the final. s.Oliver Würzburg came out better after the break and pulled in front once more in the first five minutes of the third period – a run of seven points without reply gave it its highest lead in the second leg (57:46 in the 25th minute) and a six-point advantage on aggregate. “We had the chance then to extend the lead and so lay the foundation for winning the title. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to do that,” said Wucherer. The visitors struck back with their own 7:0 run, gained the momentum as a result and cut the deficit to 65:64 after 30 minutes.

Skyler Bowlin opened the final period with a bucket from beyond the arc (68:66) and after that s.Oliver Würzburg produced strong actions in defense and so had several chances to stretch its narrow lead, but instead thwarted itself by committing offensive fouls and conceding turnovers. Sassari was able to capitalize on that and move ahead for the first time since the start of the game thanks to two actions in offense by Rashawn Thomas (68:70 in the 33rd minute). The home side did not give up and tried all it could to the very end to turn the final around: With 24 seconds left on the clock, Florian Koch drained two free throws to tie the scores at 79:79. However, the Italian club did not show any weakness and was subsequently able to celebrate winning the title on the court of the s.Oliver Arena together with the more than one hundred of its fans who had made the journey.

Devin Oliver, s.Oliver Würzburg:

“The fact that we didn’t achieve our goal is tough for us players and the team, but especially for our fans. They gave us magnificent support again today. As in the first leg, it was a fiercely contested encounter. It was difficult for us without Jordan, but that’s not meant to be an excuse. That’s the way things are sometimes in basketball. We have to put that behind us and all learn from it.”

Denis Wucherer commented:

“Congratulations to Sassari’s players and fans and to my friend Gianmarco Pozzecco. They did a great job throughout the competition and deservedly won the title. But I think that we would have also deserved it if we’d picked up the cup. We were 11 points ahead in the third period and had the chance to extend our lead and so lay the foundation for winning the title. We didn’t manage to do that and then we ran out of energy a bit at the end. We have to do without Johannes Richter and Jordan Hulls due to injury for the rest of the season, so our rotation is far shorter and that hurt us. But we had the chance to tilt the game our way and live off a lead that would probably have been enough at the end even despite our tiredness. It wasn’t so easy for us in the spells where Rashawn Thomas played in the center position. If Jack Cooley had played 40 minutes today, we would be holding the trophy up today, as he simply suits us better. Nevertheless, I’m very proud of my team. The boys fought for forty minutes and gave their all against a physically very strong opponent. The club and the whole of Würzburg can be proud of this team. It’s a great pity we weren’t able to win the title for our fans, they were fantastic today.”