Rice Burns Baskets
Audi Dome, Munich – Bayern Basketball gave the Brose Baskets a taste of their own medicine, finishing Game 4 with a run to break open a tight affair and take the series to a deciding game in the BEKO BBL Playoffs.
Tyrese Rice scored 12 of his 17 points during an explosive 17-2 run in the final four minutes to lead Munich to an 80-71 win against the Baskets.
The semifinals series is now tied 2-2 and heading back to Bamberg for Game 5. The winner will move onto the BBL Finals.
Each of the first three games of the series had been played to the same script – a close game until a decisive stretch or quarter. In Game 3, Brose held Bayern to six points in the fourth quarter in a game that was closer than the blowout score would indicate.
Game 4 had multiple possible situations where either of the teams could pul away, but the other team absorbed the punch, and then countered.
Munich ended the first quarter on a 12-2 run and took a 28-17 lead. Bayern held onto that lead through the second quarter until a technical foul on Bamberg’s head coach Chris Fleming allowed Bayern to have a six-point possession. Robin Benzing hit 3-of-4 from the line and Brandon Thomas followed up with a three. The Dome was rocking as it felt the home side would start to run away, up 43-28.
Sharrod Ford and Casey Jacobsen connected for trey’s of their own, an 8-0 run before the halftime break, and Bamberg were back in business, cutting Munich’s lead down to 43-36.
Brose continued that run at the restart, but Bayern still lead. Until Alex Renfroe took over, scoring nine points during a 12-3 run that tied the game up at 54-54 each. The momentum had shifted and now it seemed Brose would close out the game and the series and play for the fourth consecutive league title.
Brose led 69-63 with a little less than four minutes left, after Boki Nachbar hit a couple of free throws that looked like the normal end-of-game action and Jared Homan missed two of his own, the end of the season felt near for Bayern.
Yotam Halperin scored to make it 69-65, then Rice took over, scoring a tough driving layup. Timeout Bamberg as Fleming wanted to talk it over. Didn’t help. Or, at least, didn’t stop Rice.
The Richmond, VA, native nailed a three-pointer from way downtown for the lead. He followed that up with another trey to keep the frenzied crowd from sitting down the rest of the way.
The Baskets called timeout once more, but it was too late. The damage was done.
“We let up a little bit,” admitted Fleming about the run at the end. “The first three (Rice) hit was a tough one. We didn’t get our hand up on the next shot. Offensively, we didn’t move the ball, we were very stagnant. What we’ve been good at the last two games is moving the ball, unfortunately they caught us and Tyrese made some big plays.”
Rice added free-throws and Steffen Hamann completed the 15-0 exposion by the hosts. Rice added the cherry on top for the 80-71 win.
Rice came into the fourth quarter with only 5 points and one field goal, until he took over.
“That’s Tyrese, he’s one of the most talented players I’ve played with,” said Halperin, who himself finished 10 points, 5 assists and 6 rebounds. “He can be quiet for 2-3-4 minutes then he can explode and kill the other team, I’m happy to have him on my side.”
Despite being down toward the end, Halperin said the team was confident they would win.
“Today defense was the difference, we only gave up 71 points. When we’ve won against them, we’ve given up that many points. They’ve won when they’ve scored up on the 90s. Each one of us who came of the bench, or stared, whoever, we all did our part.”
Bayern held the Baskets to 34% shooting including 7-for-26 from long distance and outrebounded the visitors 43-37.
The deciding Game 5 will be on Thursday, June 6th at Stechert Arena, one of the toughest places to play thanks to the fans, but where Bayern have shown they can win.
Back on February 7th, Bayern ended Bamberg’s league cup four-peat bid with a 77-69 win. And in Game 1 of this series, a 98-85 win for Munich. There’s no question that both teams want it more, for different reasons. Bamberg to hold on to their dynasty one more year. For Munich, to establish their history in the league.
“You’ll see an intense game, I don’t think you’d expect anything else,” said Fleming to Sport Eagle after the game. “We’ll be ready, our guys know how to play those kind of games, we know maybe we let one get away today. We leave with our heads up and we’ll be all right for game 5.”
Brose had received solid contributions during the playoffs from their big four weapons – Nachbar, Ford, Anton Gavel and Jacobsen – but today were rendered ineffective. Ford did score 14 points but was held scoreless in the final quarter. Anton Gavel added 12 points, under his 17.5ppg for the postseason and could not stop the Bayern rally at the end, perhaps still suffering from the effect of an injury that kept him out of Game 1. Jacobsen only scored 7 points after going off in Game 3, and Nachbar struggled for floor time with foul trouble early and to make it to double figures, finishing with 10 points (8-8 FTs).
After facing the brink of elimination in this game, Bayern Basketball will not be scared and actually welcome the challenge of Game 5 and measure themselves against the defending champions.
“The last three days we had time to think about what happens what if we lose,” admitted Bayern Basketball President Marko Pešić. “Now we can think about what happens if we win and Bamberg has to think about what happens if they lose.”
Halperin could only agree. “There’s gonna be a lot of emotions, excitement and aggressiveness, a little more pressure on us as they will have home court. It’s one game – winner takes it all. But this is why you play basketball and we are looking forward to Thursday.”