Team defense against star ensemble
Tue, 03/05/22, 09:05
FCBB "grateful and excited" going into big Game 5 at Barça
Again the first day of the week spent ont the road: This procedure is the norm for the Bayern basketball players at the start of "Week 38" that it was not at all burdensome for the Munich team. In the afternoon, they set off again for Barcelona, where the Bavarians are playing their 70th game of an eventful season. But this is without question one of the biggest in the club's history - playoff game five for entry into the Belgrade Final Four (May 19-21) of the EuroLeague at the favored star ensemble of FC Barcelona.
"In the jaws of the shark," as Andrea Trinchieri put it in one of his quips.
Walden and Hilliard travel with the team
In keeping with the occasion, the group around the Italian head coach includes the entire 17-man squad this time; including playmaker Corey Walden (back), who has been missing for weeks, and Darrun Hilliard, whom Bayern lost in Game 1 to a broken collarbone. Tip-off is at 20:00 on Tuesday evening, MagentaSport will broadcast from 19:30 in what is sure to be a sold-out as well as noisy Palau Blaugrana (7,300 seats).
67-77, 90-75, 66-75 and on Friday night 59-52 have made up a 2-2 series in an intense best-of-five rollercoaster matchup of the eighth seed vs the number one team in the league. Where do we go from here?
There have been four "completely different games," and Trinchieri has marveled after the underdog's wildly acclaimed defensive performance to tie the series at 2-2. Still, "We remain the underdog, nothing has changed," the Italian says. "The question will be whether we can get back to that great energy level from game four. We'll try everything to make sure we do, even if it seems almost impossible."
Defense "at another level"
The FCC again face-off against the best offense of the EuroLeague season (49.1 %), the best three-man team (39.8 %), especially to once again be able to gain control over Barça's top star Nikola Mirotic (16.5 ppg), the assist king of the royal league, through sacrificial team defense, Nick Calathes (6.1 apg), or the other renowned athletes such as the NBA-proven guards Dante Exum (6.6 ppg)), Alex Abrines (56.3 % three) as well as Nicolas Laprovittola (9.1 ppg).
„"We have to carry over the defense into Game 5. It's win or go home now and it's hard to win in Barcelona. But we're playing to do just that."”
Trinchieri's men know what's important and there will be little lack of will. "We didn't have a great shooting percentage in the last game, but from a defensive standpoint, we were on a different level," says Nick Weiler-Babb, looking back at the fourth duel, in which both teams hit just 17 percent from three. "We have to carry that defense over into game five. It's win or go home now and it's tough to win in Barcelona. But we're playing to do just that. I'm very excited to be in game five this year after being injured last year. I'm just thankful to be healthy this time."
Like Weiler-Babb, knocked out last season in the first playoff game against Milan with a serious foot injury, national team player Andreas Obst is also on such a lit stage for the first time. He said coolly: "We will give everything we have, with full energy. We've had four games in the series against them now and we want to take the good things with us. We're playing to win."
President Hainer: "Can only win"
Bayern want to bring a certain looseness and confidence on Tuesday evening, according to general assessment, only Barca's spectacularly assembled title project is under pressure. A year ago in the playoffs against St. Petersburg (3-2), the future finalist around coach Sarunas Jasikevicius fulfilled the great expectations and won in the do-or-die duel 79-53. A personnel change in game five anno 2022 could be the entry of veteran Pierre Oriola, who was in the Lithuanian's squad for the first time again on Sunday in the home victory of the ACB leader against Burgos (84-69). Even a comeback after weeks of injury for US Cory Higgins (9.2 ppg) is reportedly possible.
Go, "play and enjoy" was the recommendation from Trinchieri and also from general manager Marko Pesic ("We have now overperformed for two years") before the series began. And that's also how club president Herbert Hainer put it after Friday night's basketball feast at the Audi Dome. He praised the team even before the final: "No one would have believed that we would go into five games against Barcelona, probably the best team in Europe. Our team has already earned everyone's respect." Hainer thinks, "We can only win."
So, let THE game begin!