ALBA Berlin Hoist League Cup
O2 World, Berlin – Zach Morley scored a game-high 24 points and Heiko Schaffartzik’s buzzer beating three-pointer at the end of the third quarter sparked a game-ending 26-8 run as ALBA Berlin blew by ratiopharm ulm 85-67 to win the BEKO BBL Top Four.
With the back-and-forth final tied at 59 a piece, Schaffartzik pump-faked allowing defender Philip Schwethelm to fly by, setting up an open attempt that went in at double zeroes. The momentum had swung and stayed with Berlin.
ALBA continued the run, outscoring Ulm 12-4 over the next six minutes to build an 11-point lead. They key play was a steal and fastbreak bucket by Je’kel Foster that made it 72-61. And they cruised home on another run, this time 11-2, for the win and championship of the mid-season mini-tournament.
“We were too excited and too emotional at the beginning of the game,” admitted Berlin head coach Sasa Obradovic. “Many in our team had never had the chance to win a title and they lost their calm and didn’t play with focus. We wanted to do too many things quickly. In the second half we played much better, especially in the fourth quarter. This title, the first in four years, gives our club a thrust. I hope we can use this experience going forward.”
“For those who watched this weekend, everyone will agree the best team at the Top Four won,” added ratiopharm ulm’s head coach Thorsten Leibenath. “With their performance yesterday (against FC Bayern Basketball) and today, they clearly earned the Cup.”
In the third place game, Bayern promised to fix what went wrong against ALBA on Saturday night by defeating the Artland Dragons 88-76. Jared Homan completed a solid weekend of action with 17 points and 9 rebounds without his partner in the paint, Chevon Troutman who sat out the Top Four with an injury. Robin Benzing also had an effective trip to the German capital, scoring 16 points.
The Dragons got 28 points from Bryce Taylor thanks to 5-of-6 from beyond the arc but it wasn’t enough to beat a balanced Bayern team.
“After yesterday’s game, I wanted to see how the team would react after the loss to ALBA,” said Bayern head coach Svetislav Pesic. “Therefore the win was important for us, not so much for third place, but because we needed this game for us and played it for us.”
For all the teams, it’s a return to the league and the race to the playoffs. But the matchups will remain the same. Bayern will travel to Quakenbrück Saturday to play the same Dragons who won in Munich thanks to a buzzer-beater by Taylor back on October 10th. Ulm will look for a measure of revenge on Berlin, as they host ALBA on Sunday night.
José Ángel Risco contributed to this article.
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