Bayern brings ZSKA Moscow to the brink of defeat

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The FC Bayern München basketball team lost a close game against EuroLeague champion ZSKA Moscow in the first home game of 2020. The German champions were 20 points behind before going on a furious race to catch up. In front of 5,853 spectators in the Audi Dome, the Munich squad, under their new coach Oliver Kostic, showed fighting spirit and character after the break, and the fans cheered on their team with great applause despite the defeat. In the second half, the FCBB scored 52 points, scored 16 assists and added nine offensive rebounds. Greg Monroe impressed with a double-double of 20 points and ten rebounds.

For the Bavarians, it is now time for Greek week in the EuroLeague. On Wednesday (January 15th, 20:00) the Munich team will play Panathinaikos Athens, followed two days later by Olympiakos Piraeus (January 17th, 19:30). After the difficult BBL goad game on Sunday in Ludwigsburg (7/1, 15:00.), the next home game against Maccabi Tel Aviv will be on Thursday, 23/1 (20:30) at the Audi Dome.


Points per quarter Bayern ZSKA: 10-18, 15-23, 27-18, 25-25.

Facts & Figures - Two-point shooting: 43% (FCBB) // 53% (ZSKA); three-point shooting: 40% // 32%; free-throw shooting: 66% // 82%; rebounds: 33 // 45; assists: 19 // 16; turnovers: 11 // 14 - injured: TJ Bray (in team practice) and Alex King (cd).

FCBB stats: Greg Monroe (20 points/10 reb.), Vladimir Lucic (17/5 reb.), Joshua Huestis (17), Petteri Koponen (12/4 triple), Nihad Djedovic (4/8 assists), Paul Zipser (4), Zan Sisko (3), Maodo Lo, Danilo Barthel, Mathias Lessort, Leon Radosevic and Diego Flaccadori.

FCBB interim head coach, Oliver Kostic: "I would like to congratulate the players. We achieved a lot today. We were a bit stiff and nervous in the first half and ZSKA played very physically. In the second half we showed how we want to look: to bring energy and play together with pride. That's how we won back our crowd after the first half as they acknowledged our fight and will. We can be very satisfied today despite the defeat.

ZSKA head coach, Dimitris Itoudis: "We dominated the first half, but then Bavaria reacted well. They hit a few shots from the pick-and-pop. In the end we were able to hold our ground in crunch time and are happy with the victory. I would like to congratulate my players; especially because of our injury issues. It's always very difficult to play here, the atmosphere in the Audi Dome was great."

Petteri Koponen: "At halftime we set ourselves the goal of increasing the pace. We played more aggressively and found some open shots. We fought even though it wasn't enough today, because ZSKA is a good team. But this is the way we have to continue now. We have to work on improving, we have enough talent and we will work our way up step by step."

Josh Huestis: "This game changed a lot for us because we showed in the second half that we can play fast and athletically. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to win, but if we stay on this path, we will improve decisively.   

1st quarter
The new FCBB head coach Oliver Kostic bet on Petteri Koponen, Nihad Djedovic, Vladimir Lucic, Josh Huestis and Greg Monroe as starters. Moscow started defensively at a high level and Bayern hardly came close to the opponent's basket. Greg Monroe was successful for the first time after almost two minutes but still the score was tied. Huestis' place in the starting formation paid off, he scored twice in a row to give the FCBB their first ever lead, 8-7. Suddenly, especially on offense, minor issues crept in again, which led to turnovers which ZSKA took advantage of to break an 8-0 run. The dominating player on the guests' side, Mike James, was dominating as he put his teammates in good positions or scored himself. 70 seconds before the end of the first quarter Zan Sisko made his debut. Even though Munich took some good shots, they refused to find their way to the bottom of the basket and the gap was at eight points at the first break. 

2nd quarter
The big difference between the two opponents was success from beyond the arc: Moscow was hitting 55 percent while Munich had not yet converted a single one of six attempts  - time-out FCBB. To the horror of the fans, turnovers crept into the Bayern play again  and the Russians jumped to a 28-12 lead. In the middle of the quarter, the Munich team had at least forced the momentum out of their opponents' offense and Monroe burrowed his way to the basket and scored to help stem the tide. Petteri Koponen came off the bench and was immediately on the spot with a three to bring the score to 30-19 for ZSKA. Bayern was well on the way to pushing the lead to within ten but in the decisive moments of the first half things went sour and the Russians took a 41-25 lead into the locker room.

3rd quarter
Unfortunately, a turnaround was not in sight to start the half as Moscow took a 20-point lead before Vladimir Lucic, as so often, intervened and led a 5-0 run for the home team. Huestis added a three and hope was again pulsating through the Audi Dome. ZSKA countered with a 5-0 run, but Munich responded with a triple from Lucic and then one from Huestis, 50-39. Bayern fought fiercely and the momentum slowly began to be on the side of the home team as a huge dunk by Huestis pushed the deficit into the single digits, 53-45. Of course, the EuroLeague title holders weren't scared but Bavaria's newcomer, Sisko knocked in the final bucket of the quarter, 59-52. 

4th quarter
The guests scored the first basket of the last quarter before the Bavarians brought the score to 61-58  with a thrilling 6-0 run. Hardly anyone was still sitting in the Audi Dome as a three from Coponen tore even the last ones from their seats as Bayern had managed to bring the once huge deficit to just two points. Another three-pointer by Paul Zipser shortened the gap to 65-64 and the change in the lead, which had hardly been considered possible, was possible. Both teams were now feeling the wear and tear of their strength and the Russians defended their wafer-thin lead with teeth and claws. An unsportsmanlike foul committed in the heat of the moment played into the visitors' hands and ZSKA jumped up to 75-69. ZSKA played out the clock and drew fouls to score from the free-throw line. In the end, Bayern came up just short.


Photos: Eirich, Stickel, Rauchensteiner


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