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

Week 13 - December 18th 2013

Bamberg make mistakes late in Milan loss, lack energy as winning streak v Ulm snapped

Brose Baskets Bamberg made some mental errors down the stretch in losing a crucial game in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague at EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 74-73 on December 13. Brose returned to the road just 40 hours later and clearly lacked the energy in falling 72-59 to Ratiopharm Ulm on December 15 as Bamberg’s 12-game winning streak against Ulm was snapped. Brose did make another signing to help their worries at the power forward position in acquiring German international Elias Harris.

Brose have another tough week coming up though both games are at home. On Friday December 20, Bamberg have a do-or-die game against Zalgiris Kaunas in the Euroleague. Chris Fleming’s team must beat the Lithuanians to achieve their minimum goal of reaching the Top 16. Brose then host Phoenix Hagen on Sunday December 22 looking to return to their winning ways domestically.

Bamberg dropped to 3-6 in the Euroleague and sit fifth in Group B, on the outside of the Top 16 looking in on Anadolu Efes Istanbul and Zalgiris, who are both 4-5. Milan improved to 5-4 and secured a spot in the next group stage with their win over Bamberg.

Brose started the game in Milan strong, scoring the first seven points and opening an 11-2 lead. Rakim Sanders made it 14-7 before the Italians got to within 14-13 and tied it at 20-20. But Jamar Smith’s three just before the buzzer gave Bamberg a 23-20 lead after one quarter.

After Brose pushed the lead to 26-20, Milan went on a 10-2 run to pull ahead 30-28. Neither team could pull away with Alessandro Gentile’s three-ball making it 37-33 for Milan. The score at the break was 37-34.

The Italians increased the cushion to 41-34 before Smith and John Goldsberry both nailed triples in a 10-0 surge for a 44-41 Bamberg advantage. And a Zack Wright layup just before the buzzer gave Bamberg a 52-51 lead after three quarters.

In the fourth, Bamberg continually pulled ahead and Milan would knot it back up. Thanks to a dunk by D’Or Fischer and two Novica Velickovic free throws, Bamberg were up 73-69 with about a minute and a half left. Brose had the ball but Smith hoisted a three early in the shot clock when they could have milked some of the clock.

Gentile was fouled for some reason and split two free throws and after Bamberg failed to score Nicolo Melli grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back to cut it to 73-72 with 39 seconds left. Wright would miss a layup with 19 seconds left and then fouled Gentile after the rebound – again a questionable decision. The Italian international made both foul shots to put Milan ahead 74-73. Smith was off target with his potential game-winning jumper and then Curtis Jerrells grabbed the rebound away from Sanders to secure the loss for Bamberg.

“We started the game well. Then we had trouble controlling their penetration in the second quarter, but we played a great second half. We had the game in our control, but we made two fouls in the end. Those cost us,” said Coach Fleming after the game.

“It definitely hurts losing this way.”

Anton Gavel paced Bamberg with 15 points while Velickovic scored 14 points and Sanders had 13. Maik Zirbes chipped in seven points and seven rebounds in the loss.

“It’s disappointing obviously. I think we played well enough to win. But give credit to Milan for getting the key victory. I think we struggled on the defensive glass. They got a lot of offensive rebounds,” added Goldsberry.

Shortly after the game, it was announced that Bamberg had signed Elias Harris on a contract until the end of the 2014-15 season, although the deal included an NBA opt-out for next season.

“He’s one of the few Germans who can really play at a high level. We are really happy that he decided on Bamberg,” said Brose general manager Wolfgang Heyder about Harris, who was recently released by the Los Angeles Lakers.

“He helps us at power forward after the Sharrod Ford injury and while Velickovic is still not at full health. We are happy to have him as a backup who can also play some small forward.”

Harris, who played collegiately at Gonzaga University, is not eligible to play against Kaunas and the 24-year-old was not with Bamberg in time for the game against Ulm.

Bamberg came into the game in Ulm having beaten the team the last 12 meetings, a streak that included the 2012 German Cup semi-finals win in overtime, a sweep in the 2012 Beko BBL finals and the 2012 Champions Cup game, which also went to overtime.

Bamberg, who hadn’t lost to Ulm since 2009, scored just four points in the third quarter in losing 72-59 in Ulm.  Their eight-game Beko BBL winning streak was snapped and fell to 10-3 – two games behind leaders Bayern Munich for second place. Ulm picked up their fourth straight victory to improve to 9-4 in a three-way tie for third place.

It was Bamberg’s second straight Friday-Sunday week but Brose started strong in opening up a 17-7 lead early on the road. The advantage was still 19-9 after one quarter.

Ulm scored the first seven points of the second quarter and then Bamberg gave up a 6-0 run as the hosts pulled ahead 27-24. Brose trailed 34-33 at intermission.

After Fischer gave Bamberg the lead to start the second half, Brose just lost all bearings in the game. Ulm went on a 9-0 run to make it an eight-point game. Bamberg stopped that surge with a basket but would not score the rest of the quarter as Ulm closed the third period on a 12-0 run to lead 55-37.

Ulm pushed the lead to 20 points, 57-37, before Bamberg finally woke up a bit, keeping Ulm scoreless for almost four minutes and going on an 11-0 run with five different players scoring to pull within 57-48. Bamberg gave up the next five points and the deficit was back up to 70-53 with two minutes to play and the game was decided.

Fischer led Bamberg in scoring with 12 points while Sanders and Wright both had 10.

“I think we started pretty well. But I think Ulm were a bit quicker to loose ball and rebounds. I think that the third quarter cost us the game. We did not play with our heads.  We did not trust taking our open shots and were making passes instead of taking shots. And then we were just less and less aggressive,” said Fleming.

“The guys are certainly tired. Playing games Friday and Sunday is tough, especially with both road games. Still it’s not an excuse. We have enough quality. And I think we should have enough energy to play this game. But we have to play a bit cleverer.”

Bamberg hope to play with that added cleverness in a huge game on Friday and another important Beko BBL contest on Sunday.

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