Do-or-die games for survival don't go much better than the one ratiopharm Ulm played on Wednesday against a direct rival, Germani Brescia Leonessa, to reach the 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16. And it's safe to say they also never go so well for a road team in such circumstances.
It looked anything but unusual through the first few minutes as host Brescia went ahead 12-8. The teams seemed to be feeling each other out, and even when Ismet Akpinar nailed the game's first triple for Ulm, it was nothing out of the ordinary. But it soon turned out to be just that. Brescia's Gerard Beverley was called for an unsportsmanlike foul that Ulm turned into a four-point possession, and before anyone knew it, the visitors were off the races.
That turn of good fortune suddenly transformed into a gargantuan 0-18 run before Brescia and its home fans know what had hit them. Ulm moved the ball crisply, finding five different scorers as the difference soared to 12-26. And after Brescia had a 5-2 response to end the first quarter, Ulm opened the second one with 10 more unanswered points. It amounted to a 5-30 run over 8 minutes for lead of 17-38.
There was plenty of time left for a home team to recover, but like a heavyweight boxer shocked to hit the canvas in the first round, Brescia was unsteady thereafter. More important, Ulm never wavered for a second as it used full-court pressing despite the big lead, dominated the boards on both ends, and attacked immediately any time that Brescia got as close as 14 points, as it did late in the game. Ulm never let its guard down, something that is hard to do under qualification pressure on the road.
"What I really liked was our focus," head coach Thorsten Leibenath said afterwards. "We stuck to the game plan. We didn't have many mental mistakes. We worked really hard for 40 minutes, and that's why I feel the team deserves that win."