Brose Take Control


Posted by Salman Mitha

Posted in Basketball / Beko BBL


Beko BBL Playoffs – Finals Blog

ratiopharm Arena, Ulm, June 6 – ratiopharm ulm’s head coach Thorsten Leibenath was not happy about how his team failed to match the intensity of their opponents in a Game One loss and promised they would defend home court in Game Two.

Sport Eagle Beko BBL Finals ratiopharm ulm vs. Brose Baskets Game 2

Ulm gave the two-time defending champions Brose Baskets their best shot for the first 18 minutes, until Bamberg’s depth and versatility took over.

PJ Tucker made another case for the Finals MVP with a double-double – 18 points, 10 rebounds – while teammate Anton Gavel hit every key shot on his way to a game-high 22 points as Brose blew out Ulm 86-70.

Brose lead the best-of-five series 2-0 and are one win away from accomplishing Mission: Three-Peat.

Heading into the championship series, outside obervers – this one included – felt the teams matched each other well and the series would be close.  The Game One 98-72 blowout may have been considered an aberration, especially since no one plays well in the “Frankenhölle” (Franconian Cave).

Game Two started how most expected the entire series to go – close, intense and a battle for every point.  There were seven lead changes and five occasions the teams were tied.  Gavel started off scoring the first two buckets for Bamberg, Tucker was not far behind adding points right after.  Meanwhile Ulm were moving the ball quickly, setting up open shots that Isaiah Swann and Keaton Nankivil were able to knock down.

Nankivil hit a three-pointer with :15 seconds left in the opening quarter to give Ulm the 22-21 lead.

Ulm continued their solid start, building a 31-27 lead, looking like they were ready for a 12-round heavyweight battle.  But in moments like these the Baskets like to show off their bench.

Bamberg had only scored six points at that moment, all by their bench – four by Julius Jenkins and two from Brian Roberts.

Anton Gavel was Mr. Big Shot for Brose. Photo: Sperduto / Sport Eagle

Roberts then took over, similar in the opening game.  He scored the Baskets next eight points to bring them back.

With :55 seconds left before halftime, Ulm still led 41-39.  Casey Jacobsen and Julius Jenkins hit from beyond-the-arc and Brose took a 47-39 lead at the break.

The run continued in the second half, Gavel’s three-pointer and Tucker’s free-throws were part of Bamberg’s 11-0 run to break open the game… for the time being.

Gavel continued to find the open shot all night. Photo: Sperduto / Sport Eagle

Leibenath’s men battled back, Per Günther hit a pair of treys to bring Ulm back within 62-58.  But it was Gavel once again, as he started the quarter, hitting the dagger three-pointer and head into the final period up 69-59.

Brose put the icing on the cake with another 11-0 run, and it was Roberts again, building a tough mountain for Ulm to climb back.

The damage was done, and Gavel couldn’t be stopped, hitting a couple of more shots and finished off the game.  Gavel added four assists in his total tally.

League MVP John Bryant was shut down in Game 2.  Photo:  Sperduto / Sport Eagle

The difference in the game ended up being the two 11-0 runs in the 16-point loss.  Bamberg’s defensive game plan was to challenge every entry pass into the paint and frustrate John Bryant the entire game.  The regular season MVP could only muster 7 points, and thus Ulm’s offense disappeared in key moments.

The Brose Baskets will looks forward to sweep this series and claim their third consecutive domestic double, winning both the Beko BBL Cup and the Beko BBL league.

For ratiopharm ulm, it is a case if their dream of winning the championship will have to wait another year.


Finals (Best of five)

Brose Baskets vs. ratiopharm ulm, BRO lead 2-0
Game 1 BRO 98, ULM 72
Game 2 BRO 86, ULM 70
Game 3 Sun, Jun 10 ULM at BRO
Game 4* Thu, Jun 14 BRO at ULM
Game 5* Sun, Jun 17 ULM at BRO

* if necessary

Bamberg Cruise

Stechert Arena, Bamberg, June 3rd – For all those doubting if the Brose Baskets may wilt under the pressure of Mission Three-peat, the two-time defending league champions left an indelible impression on their opponents and basketball fans in Germany.

PJ Tucker scored 18 points from all parts of the floor, and Brian Roberts added 17 points and 7 assists, as Bamberg blew out ratiopharm ulm 98-72 in Game 1 of the Beko BBL Finals.

Sport Eagle Beko BBL Finals Brose Baskets vs. ratiopharm ulm Game 1

Brose take a 1-0 in the best-of-five series, Game 2 is on Wednesday night in Ulm.

The opening minutes was all high-energy, most from the Baskets as they jumped all over Ulm, taking a 15-6 lead.  Center Tibor Pleiss scored seven of his 12 points with a dunk and a three-pointer.  Ulm were able to keep close, thanks to treys from Per Guenther and John Bryant and it was 20-15 with 3:18 left in the first quarter.

Over the next eight minutes of game time, until 5:  of the 2nd quarter, Brose went on a 11-0 run and after Tucker and Roberts both hit one from downtown, the lead was 43-20 with 2:43 left in the half.

PJ Tucker slams home the message to Ulm – this is Freak City. Photo: Sperduto

Roberts would hit another three-pointer and even though Keaton Nankivil countered with one of his own, the halftime lead was 49-28.

Brose did not take their collective foot off the gas at the restart, scoring the first seven points in the 3rd quarter.  Tucker was again the firestarter for Brose with a bucket and a trey.  Ulm did finally get some offensive rhythm in the middle of the quarter, as Steven Esterkamp and Bryant hit from beyond-the-arc and the visitors crept back to 61-42.  But Predrag Suput went on his own 7-0 run near the end of the quarter to keep Ulm at bay.

The game was effectively over at 73-49 after three quarters.

Despite the inevitable victory for Bamberg, the teams continue to play.  Ulm’s Tommy Mason-Griffen and Pliess opened up hitting three’s, and that hot streak continued for Brose during the quarter.  They hit four more from downtown.  Julius Jenkins’ three-ball gave Bamberg their biggest lead of the game at 32 points, 96-64 with 3:01 left and Bamberg take Game 1.

Brose Baskets defended home court on Sunday, look to bring the title back home to Freak City. Photo: Sperduto

Ulm host the next game and look to return the favor with the fans now on their side.  Brose are looking to take a 2-0 lead back home and look for a sweep to a three-peat.

June 3 – Sunday starts the Beko BBL Finals between two-time defending league champions Brose Baskets and the upstart ratiopharm ulm.

This matchup to decide the champions of Germany’s top professional basketball league is not a surprise after what fans saw when the Bamberg and Ulm faced off in March.

It was the semifinals of the Beko BBL Champions Cup and the season’s top two teams faced off a round too soon.

Anton Gavel scored 30 points as Brose beat Ulm 99-96 in OT.  John Bryant scored 25 points and not until Dane Watts’ three-point attempt missed at the end could the Baskets claim their third consecutive Cup.

Despite the minor twists and turns of the season and the playoffs, the two will once again face off to decide who is the best team in the league this season.

Bamberg have made it their goal to complete a “Freak-Peat” (winning both the league and cup for three consecutive years in Freak City, the moniker for Bamberg).

The Baskets finished the regular season on top and were already planning their parade, when Bonn shocked them at home in Game 1 of the playoffs.  That loss helped them realize it won’t be that easy.  Since then, they have rolled off six in a row, including a sweep of the Artland Dragons in the semis.

“After the Berlin game we had doubts, we didn’t play well against Bayreuth, and didn’t start the series well against Bonn,” recalled Brose head coach Chris Fleming.  “That first game for sure shook us up, brought back a sense of urgency about us, maybe we had a little trouble focusing at that time after that, we were able to do it pretty well.”

Ulm have had a smoother ride into the Finals, sweeping by the New Yorker Phantoms of Braunschweig and the s.Oliver Baskets from Würzburg.

Brose Baskets are all-in on their mission for a three-peat. Photo: Sperduto / Sport Eagle

It’s been a dream season for Ulm, who are only a year removed from a relegation battle.  This season, they have the league’s MVP in John Bryant and the coach of the year Thorsten Leibenath.

Despite their accomplishments this year, Liebenath is quite happy that Ulm were not favored to make it this far and compete for the championship.

“We`ve been under the radar for quite a while – but we kept winning,” said Leibenath.  “I think one of our number one strengths is our team chemistry. The way guys interact, the way they care for each other and the way they fight. That sets us apart.”

Fleming agrees.  “They are a team that have a different guys who are able to score, they can spread you out and play well together.  They have a well-defined team, they’ve earned their spot where they are.  They can’t be a surprise anymore.”

Brose swept the two regular season games between the two Bavarian teams, winning a close on early in the season in Franconia, and then blowing out Ulm in Swabia in February.  But it’s the Cup match that points to what we can expect in the finals.

“It showed us that we can play on Bamberg`s level,” said Leibenath to Sport Eagle.  “(The loss) also showed us, that we have to be smarter to beat them. I think we learned a lot from this game.”

With glory on the line, both teams are playing at their playoff peaks and can be considered favorites to win.  Both clubs have balanced scoring so far in the postseason.  For Bamberg, PJ Tucker is averaging 19.2 ppg, up from 15.6 in the regular season, followed by Brian Roberts (11.7) and Anton Gavel (11.6).

Per Günther is one half the dynamic duo for ratiopharm ulm. Photo: Sperduto / Sport Eagle

Ulm’s Isaiah Swann scored in double figures in all four games he played, averaging 15.3 ppg before sitting out the final two due to injury, he should be fit for the finals.  But the dynamic duo of Per Günther (15.6 ppg) and Bryant (14.3) is more than enough to cover for Swann.

The key will be which team can steal one on the road.

“Both teams are good enough to win on the road, but that’s why we play the games,” said Fleming.  “Both teams have the quality and the offensive firepower to win on the road.”

So, who will win?  Both coaches are confident.

“We are going in a good direction,” stated Fleming.  “It’s a dynamic game, things can change but I like where we are.”

“We don’t look at the series right now.  We go from game to game – like we did it all year long,” countered Leibenath.  “To beat Bamberg it is about the match-ups, it is about not making mistakes, team effort and our game plan.  We can only beat them as a team. If we stick to that, we can compete.”

In this reporter’s opinion, the pressure is on Brose to complete the magical goal of three consecutive domestic doubles.  They won’t underestimate Ulm but I think Bamberg may be in for a surprise.

Predictions – Sport Eagle asked a few reporters who have been covering the Beko BBL this year for their thoughts on the Finals.

Salman Mitha, Sport Eagle:  ULM 3-2, for the reasons stated above

Julian Galinski, Abendzeitung:  BAM 3-1, “Brose is deep and consistent.  Ulm will win one at home!”

Jens Huiber, Sportradio 360:  ULM 3-2  “I am still under the influence from the great atmosphere from Ulm’s last home game and I’m going with something new.”

Patrick Reichelt, Münchener Merkur:  BAM 3-1  “Ulm has had a strong season and they played smooth through their first two series with lots of euphoria in their home games.  Nothing against Günther & Co. but Bamberg is not only deeper but have better quality in the squad.  The team corrected itself after the wake up call against Bonn.

Lena Meyer, tZ:  BAM 3-1  ” A series that Ulm won’t be able to win.”

Regular Season

October 12, 2011
Brose won, 64-59
Predrag Suput (BAM) 14 points, Isaiah Swann (ULM) 22 pts, John Bryant (ULM) 11 pts, 15 rebs

February 11, 2012
Brose won, 102-74
Swann 27 pts, Casey Jacobsen (BAM) 21 pts, Brian Roberts (BAM) 20 pts

Beko BBL Cup

March 25, 2012
Brose won, 99-96 OT
Anton Gavel (BAM) 30 pts, Bryant 25 pts


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