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Bayern will fight for a Game 5

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The facial expressions of those involved after the last playoff battle - here the disappointed-grim Munich players, there the relieved but by no means cocky Barça stars - basically proved what FCBB head coach Andrea Trinchieri was to dryly state to the press late in the evening: "We're still in the series." The third chapter of the quarterfinal clash had seen a rather determined title favorite, who, thanks to the 75-66 road win, is once again 2-1 in the lead and can make the universally expected move into the Final Four on Friday night (20:45).

TICKETS FOR GAME 4

Bayern wants to make life as difficult as possible for the Spanish all-star team once again in the packed Audi Dome. Trinchieri says: "There is no reason to be frustrated after a loss against the best team in the EuroLeague. We'll try to find solutions like we did after the first game and fight as exemplary as we did after halftime on Wednesday."

Three-point shooting will be a big factor

His coaching staff will certainly find starting points for game four, that much is certain. For example, it's hard to believe that Bayern will once again hit just 16 percent from three (4 of 24). In game one (77-67 loss, 41%) and especially in the 90:75 triumph a week ago in Barcelona (48%), the Munich shooting was clearly better. However, they still had their top scorer and distance specialist Darrun Hilliard (13.7 ppg, 39%) with them, who Wednesday night, like the 6,499 other people in the hall, could only watch the physical opponents from the bucket seat because of his broken collarbone. Unfortunately, this also applies to the Munich team's top-quality three-point shooter, the US guard Corey Walden (9.8 ppg), who sank 42.2 percent from long range over 25 games.

 

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Missing like Darrun Hilliard in Game 4: Walden, who has a damaged back (c) Pahnke

So despite only six turnovers and more rebounds (35-30), Munich's attacking play rarely ran rhythmically. Barça had something to say against it and used their fouls consistently. Thanks to their great experience, the Catalan stars reeled off a highlight game with both routine and concentration. Playmaker Nick Calathes (277 EuroLeague appearances, 2,629 points, 1,681 assists/6.1 apg: all-time No. 1) and especially MVP Nikola Mirotic (195 games, 2,664 points), who performed like an MVP, each went over a good 30 minutes of playing time.

Mirotic, a longtime NBA pro, missed only three of 18 total attempts. "Mirotic played like the best four in the EuroLeague," Trinchieri said appreciatively, "he showed why he has such a contract and such a role." In contrast, the FCBB, which fought with morale until the end, did not find a reliable scorer this time. But that, too, can change again: Barça may be the best three-point team in the EuroLeague with 40.7 percent from distance, but Bayern (37%) is still the fourth best.

 

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Former NBA pro and MVP contender Mirotic was too strong for Bayern in Game 3 (c) Pahnke

"The chance of a new day"

A year ago, in Germany's first playoff appearance, the Munich team managed to level a 1-2 series with an 85-82 win over Milan. The Audi Dome almost burst at that time. "Impossible is nothing," Andrea Trinchieri had assured in a different context on Wednesday night. And forward Deshaun Thomas said on Thursday, "Tomorrow's game is the next chance to fight for another date. They will want to come out the same way again and repeat what they showed on Wednesday, a very big physicality. We have to match that this time and hit the throws we need to. Then we'll be in the fight for the win. Again, we're happy to have the chance for a new day."

Scheduled would be this new day already: a possible deciding match would take place, then again in Barcelona, next Tuesday night from 9 pm.

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