Bayern Blowout Berlin
Audi Dome, Munich – FC Bayern Basketball have a long way to go before they can catch up with their football brothers in terms of league titles, but in the BEKO Basketball Bundesliga Playoffs opener, the team served notice that they are ready to earn a title this year.
Robin Benzing scored 16 points and Tyrese Rice added 15 points – all in the third quarter – as Bayern defeated ALBA Berlin 88-67 in Game One of the quarterfinal series.
The Reds outscored the visitors from the Capital City 34-15 in the third quarter that broke open the game. Rice shot 4-of-5 from the field, including two three pointers and 10 of the team’s 12 points in the middle of the decisive quarter.
Take away Rice’s performance, Bayern still controlled the game, especially from the tip. Captain Steffen Hamann scored the games first six points, thanks to two steals, one he finished off with a dunk. Yotam Halperin then stepped up, knocking down a pair of three’s to build a 12-2 lead. Berlin’s timeout helped as they stayed close and crept back in, ending the opening quarter only down 23-18.
ALBA’s momentum continued into the second quarter, they went ahead 25-23 completing an 8-0 run thanks to former Munich player Je’kel Foster’s three-pointer. After Chevon Troutman’s second effort tied the game, Halperin nailed another trey to regain the lead. Berlin were not going away, DaShaun Wood answered with another three-ball and a 32-30 lead.
The fireworks would then continue. And it was Benzing who lit the match. The German international scored eight points during an 11-4 run, teaming up with treys from Jan Jagla and Brandon Thomas to hold off the Berlin offensive and take a 44-39 halftime lead.
Then came to Rice-induced explosion by Bayern in the third quarter. With a depleted team due to injuries, Berlin were not going to come back after being down 78-54. The two teams cruised home, knowing this game was over.
“We were very focused, I never thought we would lose tonight,” said Bayern head coach Svetislav Pešić. “We delivered a great defensive effort.”
“I can mention 4-5 guys who had a really good game tonight, and that was the key,” said Halperin who finished with 13 points.
“In the first half, we showed the way we should play them, but to win in the playoffs you have to play 40 minutes,” explained ALBA head coach Sasa Obradovic. “The key for us that we wanted to stop but we couldn’t was their fastbreak points and we couldn’t handle their pressure. We got to be tougher and sharper (in the next game) when the game is on the line.”
Game Two is at the O2 World in Berlin, where Bayern have never won, including twice this year. In league play, they lost 82-70 on December 2, 2012, and lost to the eventual league cup winners 92-83 back in March. Can they turn it around, or will Berlin hold court?
“We have to find a way to play well over there, so far it hasn’t been enough,” admitted Halperin. “The next game is going to be harder and tougher, but we are going over there to win.”
Coach Pešić agrees about the task at hand. “We have a new challenge, we’ve never won in Berlin. We have to really prepare against a team that plays well at home.”
“The second game is the most important game of the playoff series, because this game dictates which direction this series goes,” stated Bayern Basketball President Marko Pešić. “We will try to steal one.”
Game Notes: FC Bayern footballers Bastian Schweinsteiger and Arjen Robben were courtside at the Audi Dome. They were not in the lineup as their teammates took on Borussia Dortmund in their Bundesliga fixture. Both will definitely be in the lineup three weeks from now as the two teams will play for the UEFA Champions League title in London at Wembley Stadium. Also in attendance was FC Bayern President Uli Hoeness.
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