GHP Bamberg took a huge step forwards toward the Top 16 from Group A in its first Euroleague season by rallying to beat Union Olimpija 57-59 in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Wednesday. Bamberg improved to 5-4 and will be at least fifth in the Group A standings at the end of the week. Meanwhile, Olimpija dropped to 2-7 and needs to start winning right away in order to keep its Top 16 chances alive. Demond Mallet led the winners with 18 points, but Derrick Phelps was the game hero for Bamberg, making the game-winning layup with 2 seconds remaining. Spencer Nelson scored 12 points and grabbed 8 rebounds for Bamberg. Teemu Rannikko led Olimpija with 16 points and Yotam Halperin added 13, but made just 1 of 8 triples. Olimpija led 42-26 midway through the second quarter, but Mallet, Uvis Helmanis and Nelson fueled a mamooth 4-21 run which put Bamberg ahead, 46-47, with 5 minutes to go. It all came down to the final seconds, in which Phelps slashed for an uncontested layup to win the game for Bamberg.
Josko Poljak got Olimpija going with a layup and a big block on Chris Ensminger, while Halperin fired in his first triple for a 5-2 lead. The scoring pace was slow early in the game, but Phelps made free throws and Mallet added a close basket to give Bamberg its first lead at 5-6. Rannikko stepped up with a three and a very active Poljak dunked it to put Olimpija back oin charge, 10-8, midway through this period. Nelson answered form downtown and Phelps fed Ensminger for a layup, good for a 11-13 Bamberg lead. It didn't last long, as Toni Dijan scored in the paint, igniting a 5-0 run which Halperin good with another layup, enough for Olimpija to get a 16-13 lead at the end of the first quarter. Bamberg went scoreless in the final 4 minutes of this period, making just 5 of 14 shots.
A series of turnovers forced Bamberg coach Dirk Bauermann to call timeout early in the second quarter. Hasan Rizvic had a huge block on Nelson, who took revenge with a fast break basket. Olimpija had been scoreless for 4 minutes, but Morovic stepped up with a short jumper and soon added a three which forced a Bamberg timeout at 22-16. Morovic slashed for a layup which capped a 8-0 run in which he had all points, but he picked up his third foul soon after that. That didn't slow Olimpija, however, as Oliver nailed a three and Poljak made a free throw to make it an 11-point game at 28-17. Mallet made a layup and Robert Garrett added free throws to give Bamberg some hope at 29-21. It didn't last long, as Rannikko nailed a three off the dribble and Halperin made free throws to give Olimpija its biggest lead, 34-22, at halftime.
Nelson worked well in the paint to bank in a short shot which Ensminger followed with a four-meter jumper to bring the guests within 34-26 right after the break. Dragisa Drobnjak stepped up with a jump hook and Rannikko added consecutive driving layups to keep Olimpija fully in charge, 40-26. Bamberg called timeout, but Halperin capped a 8-0 run with a fast break layup which made it a 16-point game, 42-26. Archibong tried to wake the guests up with a three, but Olimpija was now more aggressive in both ends, forcing many turnovers. Both teams went scoreless for more than 2 minutes, but Mallet fired in a triple and added a driving layup which capped a 0-7 run and brought Bamberg within 44-36 at the end of the third quarter.
Nelson tried to ignit the Bamberg comeback with a close basket which Uvis Helmanis followed with a put-back basket which made it a four-point game at 44-40. Oliver fired in a six-meter jumper which Helmanis immediately erased with a three in the other end. Mallet made consecutive layups to complete the guests' comeback at 46-47. Olimpija did not find answers in offense, while a layup by Helmanis allowed Bamberg to get a 47-49 edge with under 4 minutes to go. Rannikko and Oliver made free throws for a 50-49 Olimpija lead. Phelps and Nelson scored around the basket to give Bamberg a 50-53 lead, as Olimpija lost control in offense. Mallet - who else? - fired in a short jumper but Rannikko answered with a big three for a 53-55 Olimpija deficit. Once again Mallet slashed for a layup already in the final minute, but Rizvic scored in the paint and Halperin added a fast break basket to tie the game, 57-57, with 15 seconds to go. It all came down to the final seconds, in which Phelps found space for an uncontested layup which gave Bamberg a big win in come-from-behind fashion!
Wednesday, January 4, 2006