Bears Iced Over
Audi Dome, Munich – After losing their first two games at home this season, FC Bayern Basketball are no longer in the gift-giving mood to visitors who enter the Audi Dome.
Chevon Troutman scored 20 points and Tyrese Rice added 18 points and dished out 6 assists as Bayern ruined the holidays for the Bremerhaven Polar Bears 104-71.
“The boys were really motivated to win tonight,” said the festive Bayern coach Svetislav Pešić after the game. “From the first minute, it was a great performance from our team.”
After a close opening 11 minutes, Bayern broke up the game, going on 8-0 and 13-0 runs to build a 48-33 leading going into the half. Lawrence Roberts ended the first run with a pair of dunks, then Troutman took over, adding 6 points to widen the gap before the break.
“We stopped playing together offensively, with careless passes, and a lack of intensity on defense,” admitted Bremerhaven’s coach Douglas Spradley. “Against a team that can score in bunches, if you go to sleep for 4-5 minutes, next thing you know, you are down 15.”
In the second half, Bayern did not cruise, they accelerated and controlled the action, pretty much what Santa has to do on Christmas Eve. A Bayern run at the restart, and Spradley had to call another timeout to try and stop the bleeding.
“We lost control, I had to take timeouts late in the 1st quarter, and again early in the 2nd quarter, I couldn’t stop it anymore,” explained Spradley. “I could only hope that the team would come together.”
A 10-0 run helped the Reds double their halftime lead by the end of the third quarter to 31 points, up 83-52. Only in the final period did they cruise home for the win.
Meanwhile, the Bears were going in reverse, unable to get going offensively or stop anything defensively. They committed 19 turnovers (thanks to the consistent Bayern press), got outscored 48-24 while shooting 27% (12-for-45) after the first quarter. Their leading scorer coming in, Stanley Burrell could only manage 4 points, 12 under his average.
“I told my team, that (Bayern) played harder than you when they were 30 points up,” said Spradley. “They had much more instensity over the 40 minutes, taking the pass away, pressuring the ball, we were like fans tonight and watched.”
“We had a great first quarter, but in the second quarter, they turned it up, they took it to us, defensively, offensively, and in transition,” agreed Bears’ Jacob Burtschi who scored 15 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. “They kept giving it to us because we didn’t fight back.”
The win is Bayern’s fourth in a row, and they’ve scored 100+ in each of them. This is a team that has had three head coaches in as many months of the season. Under Pešić, the players agree the situation has stabilized, mainly due to their coach’s belief in them.
“The last couple of games we showed we are hard to stop in the open court, we want to push the ball ahead, quick outlet pass, pass ahead and we see the options,” said Bayern captain Steffen Hamann. “Coach has told us that there are no bad decisions, as long as you take them in confidence and everyone understands that.”
“He takes the time during practice to make sure we know what we are doing and you can see the difference on the court,” added Troutman, who will play in next month’s All Star Day. “The energy, the seriousness he brings to the team, you feel it. It’s fun, it’s easy with the way he coaches. he gives you the confidence to make a decision, even if you make the wrong decision, he’s not going to penalize you.”
The game was important for both clubs hoping to get into the league cup competition, the top six teams after the first half of the season are invited to play in this in-season tournament culminating in the Top Four March 23-24. Since hosts ALBA Berlin are safely in the mix and get a bye to the Top Four, the team sitting in 7th qualifies.
With the win, Bayern are on their way to achieving their first goal under Pešić. They currently sit 5th in the standings (if the Artland Dragons beat the New York Phantoms of Braunschweig on Thursday, Bayern drop back to 6th due to the current tiebreaker scenario). They still need to win either on Saturday in Frankfurt against the Skyliners or at home January 5th against ratiopharm ulm.
The situation is messy for Bremerhaven, who will have to beat the Dragons on Sunday and hope TBB Trier lose their next two and no one passes them up in the table to clinch a spot.
Coach Spradley believes the lessons learned tonight will help them. “Bayern showed us what hard work can do for a team, we can take that from this game. It’s a long drive for the effort we showed, I’m disappointed, hopefully we can play better the next game.”
“It’s going to be tough, anything is possible,” hoped Burtschi. “We are still fighting for a playoff spot and that’s our next goal, we want to position ourselves better for the playoffs.”
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