Ulm, Berlin for Cup
ratiopharm ulm Race Past Artland; ALBA Berlin Crush Bayern
O2 World, Berlin – Steven Esterkamp scored 17 points and John Bryant added a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds as ratiopharm ulm defeated the Artland Dragons 86-77 in the first semifinal game of the BEKO BBL Top Four.
Ulm demonstrated their team balance both offensively and defensively to break open a close game, especially during the third quarter. All five starters scored in double figures for the game, as Per Günther and Allan Ray each contributed 12 points and Keaton Nankivil 10 points.
“We knew a solid performance would be necessary against Artland,” said Ulm head coach Thorsten Leibenath. “We played aggressive defense the entire 40 minutes, winning the rebounds was key to this game. Now we look forward to the final.”
The Dragons were led by Anthony King’s 16 points and Petar Popovic finished with 15, his 11 points by halftime helped Artland to a 38-37 lead but was ineffective in the second half.
“I thought we played the second half with too little aggressiveness and also too little attention on both sides of the ball,” admitted Stefan Koch, Artland’s head coach. “We had a chance at the end, but then took questionable shots. When you look at the complete 40 minutes, Ulm played the better game and deserved to move on to the final.”
ratiopharm ulm reach the final this year after losing a dramatic double overtime game last year in the midseason mini-tournament to eventual champs Brose Baskets of Bamberg. They will play against tournament hosts ALBA Berlin, who had seven players score in double figures in dismantling FC Bayern Basketball in the other semifinal 92-83.
The final score does not reflect Berlin’s overall dominance, using a 12-0 run during the second quarter to take a 51-37 halftime lead. At the end of the third quarter they led 73-56. Credit to Bayern for battling throughout and took advantage of ALBA stepping off the gas. The key stats were the difference as Berlin outrebounded Munich 38-25 and dished out more assists (20-7).
“That’s how one should play a big game,” analyzed Berlin head coach Sasa Obradovic. “Full intensity in both directions – offensively and defensively. You could see how much the players wanted to win this game.”
Tyrese Rice led Bayern with 17 points but it wasn’t enough to make it to the Final. They will play Artland for third place in the consolation game. Tip-off at 12:15 CET.
“We will play for our team tomorrow,” promised Bayern coach Svetislav Pesic. “We will correct what went wrong today. We will take that motivation into the third place game.”
Ulm will take on Berlin at 15:00 CET for the Cup championship.
José Ángel Risco contributed to this article.
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