Weekly roundup for our English-speaking fans by David Hein.

Week 20 - May 13th 2014

Bamberg lose, regain home court advantage vs Artland 

Brose Baskets Bamberg started their quest for a fifth straight Beko BBL title with a hiccup, losing Game One 73-68 at brose ARENA to Artland Dragons. But the champs bounced back in fine fashion with a 80-72 victory at Artland in Game Two to regain the home court advantage in their best-of-five series.

Bamberg will host Game Three at home on Thursday May 15 and with a victory could then close off the series and reach the semi-finals with a win in Game Four on Sunday May 18 in Quakenbrück.

Brose started Game One at Freak City sluggish before coming back to take the lead late, only to see Artland steal home court advantage as Artland’s David Holston hit a long three-pointer and two free throws in the final minute.

D’Or Fischer led the way with 14 points, nine rebounds and two blocks while Jamar Smith scored 13 points and Anton Gavel had 12. But Brose were out-rebounded 39-29 and forced only 10 turnovers in the contest.

"It's certainly a disappointing loss"

“I think we created some good shots at the beginning of the game, but we couldn’t hit them and they took advantage of that. We needed to fight back and we did that. But we needed to control the defensive glass and we couldn’t do that. And we paid for that,” said Bamberg coach Chris Fleming.

“It’s certainly a disappointing loss and we didn’t get off to a very good start offensively. A few missed shots and we started putting our heads down a little bit. We did a really good job fighting back in the fourth quarter. I thought we were going to win that game … I thought we were somehow going to find a way. Holston hit a very difficult shot. And we couldn’t execute,” said Bamberg captain Casey Jacobsen.

“In a one or two possession game, you have to take care of every single detail and we didn’t and that’s why we lost.”

Brose fell behind early 7-3 and didn’t score their second basket until 5:15 minutes left in the first quarter to make it 7-5. The struggles continued as Artland increased the lead to 18-9. Smith did knock down a jumper at the buzzer of the first quarter to cut it to 18-11. 

Smith nailed a trey to start the second and a Maik Zirbes three-point play got Bamberg to within 20-19. But Brandon Thomas continued a white-hot shooting night with three three-pointers as the Dragons lead swelled to 39-25. Bamberg did not give up and Gavel’s three-ball at the half-time buzzer finished a 6-0 run to make ti 39-31 going into the break.

Bamberg trimmed the deficit to six points but then watched Artland again pull away to a 14-point advantage 53-39 with two minutes left in the third quarter. Brose buckled down defensively and Jared Jordan, playing his first game in about a month after an ankle injury, knocked down a trey and Fischer hit a baseline jumper at the buzzer to get the champs to within 53-48 after 30 minutes.

Smith hit another trey early in the fourth and Jacobsen’s layup made it a one-point game as he missed the and-one free throw attempt to leave Bamberg down 56-55. brose ARENA then erupted when Smith drained a trey to give Bamberg the lead 58-56 with six minutes left. Bamberg were able to keep the lead but watched as Artland grabbed three offensive rebounds on one possession and Thomas dunked to finish the possession and knot the game 62-62. 

With Bamberg down 64-62, Gavel missed two free throws but Fischer made two from the foul line and then knocked down a jumper with 39 seconds left to give Bamberg the lead 68-66. But Holston came back down and nailed a long three-ball and after a Jordan turnover made two foul shots to give Artland a 71-68 lead with 29 seconds to play. Smith tried to tie the game with a corner triple with 16 seconds left but missed and Bamberg were left wondering what if.

No time to dwell on loss

But Brose didn’t have long to dwell on the defeat as Game Two was just three days later in Quakenbrück.

Still, Bamberg once again struggled out of the gates in Game Two and once again came back from a big deficit. Only this time, Brose were able to keep the advantage and grab the crucial road victory 80-72 and even the series at one game a piece. 

Gavel had 23 points and Harris had 14 while the defense held Artland to just five points in the fourth quarter. 

“After losing a game like Game One where you started the game almost paralysed and don’t find a rhythm until the fourth quarter, then it’s really hard to start well in a place like Quakenbrück. We were very nervous for a long time,” said Bamberg general manager Wolfgang Heyder. 

“Chris needed a long time to find the line-up that worked. But it was excellent. We fought for 40 minutes and nobody gave up on the game even though we trailed by as many as 12 points. Jordan and Gavel set the pace and then the good defensive and rebounding work by D’Or Fischer and Elias Harris.”

Fleming said the key was Gavel taking over in the second half. 

“We were a bit nervous early on. In the first half we played well but had a stretch that cost us a bit. That lasted about 28 minutes but then Anton kind of took over. He was tremendous. Karsten (Tadda) gave us a lot. Zirbes as well with a couple of big offensive rebounds,” said Fleming.

“We played really well defensively in the fourth quarter, holding them to five points. It wasn’t pretty but we made our free throws in the end and got the big plays when we needed them.”

Bamberg scored the first two points and the game was tied 4-4 when Artland went on an 8-0 run to move ahead 12-4. Gavel’s three-ball snapped the 2-plus minute scoreless stretch and a jumper made it 12-9. The Dragons increased the advantage to 16-9 before Tadda made two free throws and a three-pointer to trim it to 16-14. And Bamberg trailed 19-17 after 10 minutes.

After falling behind 26-19, Bamberg fought back to close it to 30-28 on a Harris triple. But Bamberg watched Artland go on a 9-2 surge for a 39-30 lead. Brose punched right back with the next seven points to make it a two-point game. At half-time the champs trailed 42-37.

Gavel takes over

Artland’s cushion grew back to eight points at 46-38 before Rakim Sanders and Gavel both knocked down three-pointers to keep Bamberg in the game. But Artland used a 7-0 run to take a 61-50 cushion. Gavel would not let Brose lose another game as he nailed a three-pointer, three free throws and another basket and Smith knocked down a trey as Bamberg were back to within 65-61. Artland led 67-61 after three quarters. 

Gavel nailed a trey early in the fourth and Zirbes put back an offensive rebound to bring Bamberg to within 69-66. Artland made two free throws to push the margin to five points but the Brose defense had found its sharpness. Harris cut the deficit to one point and Gavel split two free throws to even the game at 71-71. 

Fischer rebounded the missed second free throw and then scored to give Brose the lead 73-71 with 1:24 minutes remaining. After Fischer came up with a blocked shot, Bamberg iced the game as Jordan and Jacobsen combined to make seven of eight free throws in the final 52 seconds.

Bamberg hope to use the momentum now - and the home fans at Freak City - to bring home Game Three. 

“Thursday will be a crucial game. If we can win that then we are a big step closer to the next round. But it will be really hard as we saw here. But if we want to be Freak City then the fans have to be there and push us. It’s a do-or-die game and we need the fans,” said Heyder.

Tip-off at brose ARENA is 7:30 p.m. Livestream on

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