Brose Baskets Bamberg – Alba Berlin 72-65 (29:30)
For the third consecutive time the BBL finals saw a game 5 – and for the third consecutive time the hosts could take advantage of the home-court advantage. After trailing for most of the second half Bamberg played their best basketball when it all came down to the last few minutes.
Congratulations to the Brose Baskets Bamberg and coach Fleming who formed a group of great individual talent to a team that set standards in playing with enthusiasm, discipline and unselfishness.
Alba Berlin finished the season in second place. But after a season full of ups and downs, the departure of former head-coach Luka Pavicevic and the integration of two new playmakers in February Alba can be proud of winning decisive games 5 (in the quarterfinals against Oldenburg, in the semis against Frankfurt) and giving Bamberg a really tough game 5 in the finals.
The expectations for a game 5 are always high. Especially in a final series people want to see decisive moments, players making huge plays and shots that turn a game around. This post season had seen a couple of game 5s (quarterfinals Berlin vs. Oldenburg, Artland vs. Braunschweig and both semi-finals) but unfortunately those games were not close at all. This time everything should be different.
The Brose Baskets Bamberg and Alba Berlin gave the fans a great finals series and a great game 5!
After Alba made two easy baskets in the first few minutes Bamberg found a way to respond. Suput made Bamberg’s first points and Casey Jacobsen added five more consecutive points to give Brose the lead. Another three pointer by Jacobsen and Roberts gave the franconians a 4-point lead, but it was Julius Jenkins who took over Berlin’s offense. He made 7 of Berlin’s 13 first quarter points. Still Bamberg took a 16-13 lead into the second quarter.
Julius Jenkins continued to be very effective for Berlin – offensively and defensively. Some experts and Berlin fans may think that he has passed his prime, but the 30-year old american had the right answers for those voices. On defense his quick hands allowed some steals for Berlin and on offense he just had the hot hand. At half-time he already had 16 points – two more than all of his team mates combined.
For Bamberg Kyle Hines stepped up and gave Berlin’s defense and offense a hard time. Throughout the play-offs Hines became more and more productive for Bamberg and especially in game 5 he was a huge difference-maker for his team.
Still at the end of the first half Alba could take the 29-30 lead after Yassin Idbihi made a nice tip-in right under the basket.
Bamberg had won 26 consecutive home games against german teams this season. It would have been really a tragic way to finish the season with the first defeat at Stechert Arena. Bamberg’s players were determined to not let this season end like this. But Alba Berlin had a nice start into the second half. Jenkins made a three point play and Tadija Dragicevic made a wide open three to extend Berlin’s lead to 33-38. Just when John Goldsberry (who played with an ankle injury) made a huge three pointer and Suput and Hines scored as well Berlin regained the momentum with a crazy in-your-face dunk by Bryce Taylor. Alba’s number 44 posterized Predrag Suput and showed why a flashy dunk can give your team so much more than just two points- Alba’s players looked confident at this stage of the game.
Miroslav Raduljica showed some nice inside moves and scored easy points. Even though it felt like Alba could now build a 10 point lead Bamberg still had some answers to stay in touch. John Goldsberry who is usually not the best shooter hit another big three. But Heiko Schaffartzik’s buzzer beater helped Alba to go into the last quarter with a 4-point lead (48-52).
Bryce Taylor scored the first points of the last quarter, but Bamberg looked very confident again. A three pointer by Reyshawn Terry and two more points by Brian Roberts gave Bamberg the 56:54 lead. Now a four-minute span started where neither team could score. Both teams stepped up defensively and numerous missed shots and turnovers were the result. Bryce Taylor evened the score and Julius Jenkins who had disappeared for most of the second half (due to nice defense by Bamberg) made a three pointer to give Alba the lead again (58-59).
Veteran Predrag Suput was reliable at the free throw line and added another field goal to give Bamberg the 62-61 lead. After a nice defensive sequence for Bamberg Bryce Taylor shot a long distance three pointer and surprisingly made it. But John Goldsberry answered right back with another three (his third this evening) to get his team in front again (65-64). Taylor Rochestie made a crucial mistake here to give Goldsberry a nice look for his shot. With 1:21 minutes to play Alba Berlin desperately tried to get the ball in the hands of their best player Julius Jenkins. For most of the time Bamberg’s defense did a great job to prevent Jenkins from getting the ball. Now with a minute to play Jenkins finally got the ball but missed his shot. The next possession should turn out to be the decisive one: Brian Roberts had a wide open three (68-64). Again Alba’s defense looked poor. This time Tadija Dragicevic somehow did not know where he should go defensively and moved to the paint for no reason. His job here was to defend the baseline and prevent a three point look for Roberts. With a 4-point lead and just 30 seconds to go Bamberg did not show any nerves on the free throw line and managed to win the game 72-65.
It was a great finals series: two very competitive teams (by far the two best this season!), great individual performances, nice team play and interesting coaching. The BEKO BBL has hardly ever seen a finals series on that competitive level. If one totals the scores of all five games Bamberg wins the duel by just 8 points. It is a well deserved championship for the Brose Baskets as the team was unbeaten at home throughout the whole season and overall simply played the best basketball.
Bamberg is the first team since 2003 that could defend its title. Manager Wolfgang Heyder and Chris Fleming have built a great team that has had hardly any weaknesses. For the offseason it must be their ultimate goal to bring back as many players as possible. I guess Brian Roberts will leave the club due to better offers from Spain. It will be interesting to see if Bamberg can bring back inside sensation and Beko BBL Finals MVP Kyle Hines. According to some fans who celebrated with the players yesterday, Casey Jacobsen has already announced that he wants to come back to Bamberg. Ever since he joined the team back in February 2007, Bamberg could win five national titles (championship 2007,2010,2011; cup winner 2010,2011). I would not be surprised to see a Casey Jacobsen statue at Stechert Arena some day.
Alba Berlin has been a great competitor but still lacked the stability and consistency for 40 minutes. In game 5 it was the last two minutes when Katzurin’s team was unable to produce offensively and find an open shot. Defensively one cannot apologize the two crucial mistakes that allowed Goldsberry and Roberts to make the decisive three pointers.
One should not forget that the team was in a re-building process that failed with Pavicevic and that Katzurin made the best out of a team that was not formed by him. With some changes and additions Alba Berlin should be in a good position to win a championship in the near future.