Bayern Basketball send Message
Audi Dome, Munich – Bayern Basketball did not end the season in the manner they intended. A loss to ALBA Berlin in the final game of the regular season raised questions if the team on top of the standings and the top seed in BEKO Basketball Bundesliga was a legitimate title contentder.
In Game 1 of their first round playoff series against MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg, Bayern used the lessons learned to make a statement to answer such questions.
Bryce Taylor scored 20 points and Yassin Idbihi added 12 points and 8 rebounds as Bayern dominated Ludwigsurg, blowing them out 101-57 to take a 1-0 series lead in their best-of-three series.
“We found our offensive rhythm early and we did a good on defense and limited their fastbreak points. We just played a good game,” said Taylor. “I know how important it is to get a good start in the playoffs so everybody was extremely motivated.”
Since it was evident that Bayern would be in the playoffs and the top seed, lackluster efforts in games against title contenders Berlin and the Brose Baskets in the Cup raised obvious flags. The late season fade in the Euroleague Top 16 didn’t help either. And after the last home game, head coach Svetislav Pesic spent a long time in the locker room with his players before coming out for the press conference.
Whatever fire Pesic lit underneath the team, Taylor brought it out in the opening minutes in Game 1. He scored 12 of Bayern’s first 14 points. After John Bryant’s three-pointer made it 17-10, Ludwigsburg’s head coach John Patrick called timeout to make sure the game wouldn’t run away so quickly like their last regular-season matchup. The game slowed down after that fast start, which played into the visitor’s style, but Bayern led 23-16.
The second quarter continued at the same pace and MHP got to within 30-25 after a pair of Michael Stockton free-throws. In flash, Nihad Djedovic and Lucca Staiger nailed treys, Djedovic added a bucket and Munich were up 13. Ludwigsburg were looking to limit the damage with less than two minutes before the halftime break.
But Mario Stojic got called for a rare technical and unsportsmanlike foul-combo. Robin Benzing missed the first free-throw, but converted the next three. The German national player added a bucket and then beat the halftime buzzer with a three-pointer from the corner. Benzing’s personal 8-0 run extended the Bayern lead to 22 and 51-29 mountain for Ludwigsburg to climb in the second half.
“We definitely at halftime talked about that we need to get the right mindset and the right attitude before we start talking about winning or losing the game,” Patrick told Sport Eagle after the game.
Whatever rope Coach Patrick and his team were hoping to stay on the mountain immediately gave way. Bayern started the third quarter on a 7-0 run, overall 15-4 burst out of the gate, to take a 66-33 lead with only 6:09 left. Patrick called timeout but the damage was done.
The red flood continued till the end of the quarter, Paul Zipser got into the action with consecutive treys and the lead was 77-37. Forty points and still two and a half minutes left in the third quarter. Bayern took an 86-40 lead into the final quarter.
Pesic’s team is so deep with stars, there really isn’t a second team, or scrubs if you must, to put on the floor. But players who have not had much playing time came on the court to help finish the blowout. One of the factors in the win was Bayern’s three-point efficiency – 13-for-29 (45%) from beyond the arc.
“We had a lot of open looks and I think we played really good as a team, we shared the ball really well,” said Lucca Staiger, who finished with 9 points with three from long-distance. “It was one of our best games in that area.”
After such a dominating performance, the players were asked how much the Berlin loss was a factor for Bayern coming out and making a statement.
“Sometimes it’s better to lose a game than to win a game,” added Staiger. “The game against ALBA opened everyone’s eyes and you can see it today that everybody was really focused.”
“We didn’t play well, and that’s not how we wanted to finish the season,” Taylor mirroring his teammate. “We kinda look at the playoffs as a new season and a new opportunity. We will keep that (loss) in the back of our minds, we watched that game to see what we can learn from Berlin.”
As focus turns to Game 2, Bayern know it won’t be easy and Ludwigsburg promise a better result.
“It’s going to be a really tough game. The fans are going be into the game, they are very rambunctious,” commented Taylor as the traveling group of MHP fans were still loud 10 minutes after the final buzzer, enjoying the playoff atmosphere.
Keaton Grant led Ludwigsburg with 16 points, but he and his teammates will have to step it up a notch. “They’re a great team, they’re deep in every position but we got to be willing to take it to another level, this is the playoffs. We didn’t accept the challenge today and hopefully it will be a different result on Tuesday.”
Coach Patrick expects his team to respond similar to Bayern’s loss to Berlin after his team’s performance in Game 1. “The good thing is that guys who were super nervous at the shoot around and the first 35 minutes of the game, they came out of their shell. So I hope that is a signal that they will be more ready and understand now a little more what it’s about.
“It’s not like we expected to win here but for sure we can play a lot of better. We don’t have to give them so many free opportunities and open three’s. They had a great gameplan that took us out of our rhythm. I hope we are more confident and less hesitant (in Game 2). I hope we can play like we did for the first 3-4 minutess when we got Bayern out of rhythm but we need to do that for 40 minutes.”
Ludwigsburg will have a chance to send their own message and get back into the series on Tuesday when they host Game 2.
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