The long wait is over: s.Oliver Würzburg has finally won in Bamberg’s Brose Arena for the first time at its 11th attempt. On the 10th game day of the easyCredit German Basketball League, the club from Lower Franconia defeated Brose Bamberg by 72:69 (35:38) in a hectic encounter that was again highly dramatic in crunch time and so climbed to sixth in the table for the time being. The game’s top scorer was the home side’s Louis Olinde (15 points). Four Würzburg players got into double digits: Cameron Wells (13), Junior Etou (13), Skyler Bowlin (11) and Victor Rudd (10).
It was s.Oliver Würzburg’s third game in ten days to be decided in the very last second, following the 68:67 home victory against Frankfurt and the narrow defeat at the hands of Ludwigsburg in the s.Oliver Arena last Saturday.
The almost 5,700 spectators in Bamberg’s Brose Arena saw a fiercely contested and hectic derby over the 40 minutes, in which both teams displayed high-quality defending and yet did not have their best of days in attack – as exemplified by the 3-point field goal percentage of 16 for Bamberg and 22 for Würzburg.
The home side was the first to find some sort of rhythm in offense in the first period, whereas not much came off for the club from Lower Franconia apart from two buckets by Nils Haßfurther, who hails from Bamberg. Louis Olinde and Assem Marei were the main protagonists in the first eight minutes and gave the club from Upper Franconia a double-digit lead (17:7) almost on their own. Then Würzburg’s captain and top scorer Cameron Wells came back on court after a brief pause for reflection and chalked up seven points in a quick 10:0 run that tied the scores before the end of the first quarter (17:17).
In the second quarter, the visitors maintained a good grip on their opponents, took the lead after a jump shot and lay-up by Junior Etou and stretched it to 24:30 by the 14th minute – a 23:7 spurt in the space of six minutes. However, that advantage did not last long, as Bamberg struck back with a run of 12 points without reply to move in front once more (36:30 in the 18th minute). Its strong spell was again halted by Cameron Wells, after which the former Bamberg player Johannes Richter was able to reduce the deficit to 38:35 with a lay-up shortly before half-time.
Not was the game any more attractive to watch after the break: Both sides continue to tussle and fight intensively, with the club from Upper Franconia always having a slight upper hand until the end. Yet s.Oliver Würzburg was not to be shaken off at any time during the second half and always kept within striking distance. After an evenly poised first five minutes of the third period (48:45 in the 25th minute), the home side managed to pull 54:45 ahead in the 27th minute thanks to three good plays in a row by Christian Sengfelder, Paris Lee and Assem Marei, but Würzburg was able to fight back and close the deficit to 57:53 by the end of the quarter, also thanks to four points by youngster Joshua Obiesie.
The nine-times German champions were again able to extend their lead to eight points at the start of the final period: A bucket from downtown by Tre McLean and a lay-up from Assem Marei made the score 64:56 in the 34th minute. All the same, the visitors from Lower Franconia ran out winners – thanks to their strong defense, which prevented Bamberg from adding a single point in just under the last four minutes of the encounter. With the game tightly poised at 64:62, the home side scored its last five points – a three from Paris Lee and two free throws by Louis Olinde – to make it 69:62 in the 37th minute and seemingly clinch victory.
Yet it was the visitors who then chalked up the last ten points of the game in the highly dramatic final phase – despite missing three free throws. Cameron Wells put his side 69:70 ahead through a lay-up with 25 seconds to go, then Junior Etou drained his two free throws with 6.8 seconds left on the clock (69:72). The home side then had the chance in the final second to take the game into overtime through, of all persons, the former Würzburg player Maurice Stuckey, but his attempted three from the corner only hit the hoop. “We battled our way through together as a team,” said Cameron Wells afterwards.
Denis Wucherer, Head Coach of s.Oliver Würzburg, commented: “We’re very happy to have won here. The game wasn’t easy for everyone involved, including the referees. Both teams were very solid in defense at times and the attacking play wasn’t always nice to watch. It’s good for us to have defeated a playoff team at last. Last season we regularly beat all the teams behind us, but we fell one win short in the end. This victory today should give us the confidence we need to be able to contend for a spot in the playoffs. It will also give us confidence for the games facing us in Gießen, against Crailsheim, in Vechta and against Bonn and Braunschweig.”