Making the most of its first Euroleague home game ever, GHP Bamberg pulled out an exciting 81-80 victory against Union Olimpija in Group A on Thursday. The game was close to the end, until Demond Mallet hit 2 free throws and Koko Archibong nailed a basket to keep Olimpija from rallying despite Szymon Szewczyk's last-second triple. Now, Bamberg stands in the middle of the table with a 1-1 record while Union Olimpija remains winless with a 0-2. Derrick Phelps and Mallet led Bamberg with 14 points each, Spencer Nelson added 11 and 12 rebounds, and Robert Garrett and Uvis Helmanis bagged 10 each. For Union Olimpija, Szewczyk led the way with 21 points, Vasco Evtimov added 16, Yotam Halperin 14 and Josko Poljak 12.
Chris Ensminger's free throws opened the scoring for Bamberg. Phelps then found Nelson, who buried a three-pointer for a 5-0 lead. Olimpija's Poljak answered inside and outside for a 5-4 score, but also picked up his third foul in 3 minutes. Ensminger's free throws gave Bamberg a 9-4 advantage. Jimmy Oliver and Phelps exchanged baskets, then Nelson grabbed an offensive rebound and assisted Phelps on a three-point layup-plus-free throw that made it 14-6. Evtimov came off the bench strong and with 4 straight baskets got Olimpija back in the game at 19-14. Nelson's free throws pushed the lead to 23-16, but Evtimov and Toni Dijan, also from the line, cut the difference to 26-20 after a quarter.
Uvis Helmanis and Tim Begley came off the bench to hit three-pointers to give Bamberg a 32-21 lead early in the second quarter. Still, the hosts had little defensive answers for Evtimov and Szewczyk, who got Olimpija within 34-31. Helmanis answered with his second three-pointer, Mallet hit a driving layup and Nelson dunked a miss for another Bamberg break to 42-31 lead. Bamberg's excellent passing created easy looks for Phelps from the arc, Archibong and Nelson closer. Nelson's latest basket pushed Bamberg's advantage to 49-35 but Teemu Rannikko and Halperin ran for enough Olimpija baskets to leave the halftime difference at 10 points, 51-41.
After the break, the teams traded buckets, with Jimmy Oliver's long two-pointer for Olimpija making it 56-47. Phelps hit an easy jumper and soon help foul out Rannikko after just 24 minutes. Consecutive baskets by Poljak revived Olimpija, which trailed now by just 58-53 midway through the third quarter. Garrett fired up the crowd by hitting a three-pointer to make it 61-53. But Olimpija came back again as Poljak continued scoring down low and fouled out Ensminger in the process. Bamberg still led 61-57 when Olimpija's Dragisa Drobnjak was hit with an unsportsmanlike foul and Begley hit both free throws. Oliver and Begley traded three-pointers before Szewczyk's free throw made the score 66-61 after three quarters.
The fourth quarter began with 2 scoreless minutes until Szewczyk's layup got Olimpija within 66-63. Soon, he had another basket to make it 68-67. Begley saw a three-pointer go in and then, but Helmanis swished his from the corner making it 71-67 with 4 minutes left. Halperin quickly drove to the rim, getting a basket but missing the free throw that came with it. When Szewczyk completed his own three-point play, however, Olimpija was within a point of tying again. That chance came on a fastbreak, but Phelps stole the ball and Garrett finished Bamberg's counterattack to make it 75-72. Evtimov got position down low and fouled out Nelson with 2:16 left but made only 1 of 2 free throws. Szewczyk hit both of his, however, and the game was finally tied, 75-75 with 1:42 remaining. Mallet hit a floater with the shot clock winding down and Evtimov assisted a driving Drobnjak to even the game again, 77-77. Koko Archibong fought off Szewczyk's foul and scored inside. Archibong missed the free throw, but stopped Szewcyzk at the other end, allowing Mallet's free throws with 13.2 seconds left to make Szewczyk's three-pointer at the buzzer meaningless. Bamberg already had a first Euroleague victory to present to its home fans.
Thursday, November 10, 2005