Bamberg celebrates first Top 16 victory in style!
The wait is finally over as Brose Baskets Bamberg broke through in dominant fashion to its first-ever Top 16 victory by racing past Zalgiris Kaunas 96-63 at home on Friday. Bamberg had lost its previous 21 games in the Top 16 and all eight games it had played in the past with Zalgiris. The 33-point winning margin was also Bamberg's best in Euroleague play, one point better than its last regular season victory against Dinamo Sassari, while its 96 points matched the club's Euroleague best, too. Among six double-digits scorers, Jan Strelnieks paced Bamberg with 19 points, while Nikos Zisis had 18 and Nicolo Melli a double-double of 15 points, 10 rebounds. Darius Miller added 13 points, Patrick Heckmann 11 and Daniel Theis 10. Brad Wanamaker dished 9 of Bamberg's 27 assists as compared to 11 for Zalgiris, which got 17 points from Olivier Hanlan and 12 from Ian Vougioukas.
First quarter: Bamberg on fire early, makes 67% of shots
Head coach Andrea Trinchieri made one change in his Bamberg lineup with Elias Harris replacing Leon Radosevic alongside Brad Wanamaker, Zisis, Darius Miller and Melli. Zalgiris coach Gintaras Krapikas kept his same first five with Mantas Kalnietis, Marty Pocius, Edgaras Ulanovas, Paulius Jankunas and Vougioukas. Bamberg jumped ahead early 8-0 on driving layups from Zisis and Wanamaker and jumpers from Melli and Miller while Zalgiris came up empty-handed on its first six possessions - leading to a Zalgiris timeout. Ulanovas finally got the guests on the scoreboard with a lefty score at the 6:02 minute mark. Kalnietis followed with a three, but Melli matched him at the other end. Miller added a three-pointer of his own and Melli’s three-point play pushed the Bamberg advantage to 18-9. Brock Motum came off the bench and scored for Zalgiris, but Daniel Theis returned the favor over Motum and a Zisis jumper made it 22-11. Olivier Hanlan was able to hit 2 free throws for the guests, but Zalgiris could not get defensive stops and Harris threw down a dunk for a 24-13 lead after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Zalgiris has no answer for Bamberg efficiency
Zisis opened the quarter with 2 free throws and Zalgiris went inside to Vougioukas, who scored back-to-back baskets to keep the visitors close at 28-17. But Zisis came back at the other end with a three and Patrick Heckmann hit a driving layup as the lead went up to 33-17. Bamberg continued to have an answer for every Zalgiris score and more as Theis matched Kalnietis’s free throws and Janis Strelnieks scored inside after a Jankunas put-back. The Bamberg advantage grew to 40-21 on Miller’s corner three-pointer midway through the quarter, resulting in a Zalgiris timeout. Vougioukas came out of the break with a score inside, but Coach Krapikas’s men could not slow down Bamberg on offense with Strelnieks driving to the basket. And Melli’s steal and dunk pushed the margin to 44-23. A Strelnieks triple extended the cushion to 47-25 before Zalgiris got back-to-back scores through Pocius and Hanlan to trim it to 47-29. Zisis free throws had Bamberg ahead 49-29 at the break.
Third quarter: Zalgiris comeback try denied
Zisis opened the scoring in the second half with Hanlan answering at the other end. Bamberg failed to convert a couple of times offensively and Zalgiris used a 2-9 spurt with Ulanovas nailing a three and Motum and Kalnietis both scoring around the basket to close the gap to 54-40. Miller stopped the surge and Wanamaker nailed a three-pointer to make it 59-42 only to see Motum hit back at the other end from three-point range. Bamberg followed with a series of stops on defense while Wanamaker sent Theis flying above the rim for a super dunk and hit 2 free throws himself. Miller soon downed a layup as the advantage was back to 20 points - 66-46. The margin was 69-48 after a Strelnieks three-pointer before 2 Hanlan free throws and a Motum basket made it 71-52 with 10 minutes left.
Fourth quarter: Bamberg keeps pedal to the metal
Strelnieks opened the fourth with a three-pointer with Melli adding a jumper and Theis free throws to make it 78-52. Zalgiris finally scored in the quarter on a Hanlan triple with 7:42 minutes left in the game. But Zisis nailed a three-pointer at the other end and Strelnieks followed a short time later by converting a four-point play and hitting a jumper for an 87-57 advantage with 5 minutes left. Melli's free throws upped the cushion to 32 points before Pocius and Siim-Sander Vene got it down to 89-61 with 3 minutes to play. Heckmann added 7 points in the final 2 minutes to send the fans into joyous song with their first Top 16 win and biggest Euroleague margin of victory ever!
Friday, January 8, 2016