Bayern continues to make history and are back in the playoff series
It's done: FC Bayern's basketball team managed its first win in a thrilling EuroLeague duel with co-favorites Olimpia Milan, thus getting themselves back into the best-of-five series. Head coach Andrea Trinchieri's team defeated the Italian star ensemble 85-79 on Wednesday night after the two dramatic losses in Milan after an overall impressive performance. Milan leads the series 2-1 and the Munich team has thus earned a second home game at the Audi Dome next Friday (April 30, 20:45). The hosts held strong against the pressure of a possible early exit with a passionate team performance and were in the lead for almost the entire game. For Bayern, it was the 22nd win of the season in the top league and the first ever for a German team in the postseason. The top scorer was co-captain Vladimir Lucic, who scored 20 of his 27 points in the second half. Zan Mark Sisko dished out eight assists, JaJuan Johnson caught nine rebounds.
FC Bayern Basketball - Olimpia Mailand 85-79 (39-35)
Vladimir Lucic (27 Points/7 Rebounds), Paul Zipser (11), Wade Baldwin (11), Zan Mark Sisko (9/8 Assists), JaJuan Johnson (9/9 Reb), Jalen Reynolds (6), James Gist (4), D.J. Seeley (3), Diego Flaccadori (3), Leon Radosevic (2), Jason George und Sasha Grant.
Malcolm Delaney (18 Points)
Damir Javor, Mehdi Difallah, Gytis Vilius
Andrea Trinchieri: "Our situation hasn't changed because there's another game on Friday - and we have to win it again to stay alive in this series. The only thing that has changed is that after four attempts - two of them very, very close - we won a game against a very good Milan team. They are much deeper than we are in our situation, because we are missing two important guards in Babb and Djedovic. Still, we won a game with foul trouble, with a great defensive effort. If you exclude the last quarter when I had to protect my only ball handler (Sisko) and played with three bigs and we conceded 28 points, we were very solid on defense despite ups and downs. The other key was that D.J. Seeley, Diego Flaccadori and JJ Johnson helped us a lot. Of course you have Lucic, a great player on our team. But we can't win without the help from the others. Today we played as a team and now we are in the series. Now we have to forget about it, regenerate and find freshness to go into another fight on Friday. (...) The Alba game was unpleasant, terrible, disappointing - but it was human. Nobody liked it, but if you want to doubt the character of my team, then we are on two different planets. We came from a terrible game and wanted to win today - and I think we're going home with some confidence now. Whereas that doesn't mean anything for the next game, it's going to be totally different and hard. But we brought our hand in this series, we won a game."
Vladimir Lucic: "I am very happy that we won, because we didn't deserve the sweep. Now we have the opportunity to bring the series back to Milan on Friday. Our energy was the difference, we didn't give up and when we play like this we are hard to beat."
Paul Zipser: "It feels good for now, we needed the win of course. Vladimir Lucic had very little desire today for us to lose this. I don't need to say much about him, he gave us so much in front as well as at the back. Now it's on to the next game. Sisko has brought a lot of calmness into the game, he's playing very maturely for his age. Defensively, we changed things up a bit today and didn't just switch. After an extremely good start, we just brought the energy. It was a strong performance, we'll keep fighting and we don't want to go home."
JaJuan Johnson: "I think the first two games they got a lot of extra rebounds, extra possessions, and I think that ended up hurting us. Today we made the adjustment and limited that, and got our team some extra shots as well, so I think that was a big difference in the game. It's a step in the right direction. The position we're in, we have to take in one game at a time, so we're focusing on the next game, try to get that one and then go back to Milan."
Marko Pesic: "I'm happy for the team and the coaches that they crossed that bridge to win a game against Milan. We had lost all games against Milan so far, so this was very important. Now the series is open and if the team plays like this again, they will have a chance to win again. Milan is so good and experienced individually that we only have a chance at all because of our team spirit. That was impressive today. This first playoff win in the EuroLeague is already a great success and it is very, very big step in our club history."Game recap:
In the do-or-die clash, Wade Baldwin, Diego Flaccadori, Vladimir Lucic, JaJuan Johnson and Leon Radosevic started and FCBB coach Andrea Trinchieri told them, "Now it's time to stop talking and start acting." And his men did act, getting into the game furiously and surprising the Italians with a 7-0 run. Milan responded and, thanks to their individual class, seemingly effortlessly equalized at 9-9 (6th). Lucic knocked down a three-pointer and initiated a determined 8-0 run that forced Olimpia to call a timeout (8th). Munich extended the run to a double-digit lead when Reynolds was served a great pass by Seeley and hammered the ball through the hoop (21-9/9th). Bayern's 14-0 flow prevented points from the visitors for four minutes and earned them a respectable 23-9 lead after the first quarter.
Trinchieri took the timeout after 50 seconds of the second quarter because the guests hit back with four quick points. The FCBB became a bit hectic and lost the ball several times. By the end of the 14th minute of play, the northern Italians had pulled to within three at 28-25. The game was extremely contested and was played with maximum intensity by both teams. Towards halftime Olimpia played smarter and the ball movement and throw selection of the Munich team left much to be desired (33-32 Milan/19th). In the remaining 110 seconds, however, the FCBB showed a different face again. Thanks to strong defense, they streaked to a 7-2 run which resulted in a 39-35 lead for Munich.
An 11-2 run by Munich across the half forced Milan coach Messina to call a timeout, but this tactical measure did not stop Bayern, who defended superbly and acted as one in front - the lead returned to double digits (47-35/23rd). Munich's 14-0 run thrilled President Herbert Hainer and his predecessor Uli Hoeness, and the Italians managed almost nothing: The first basket of the second half came after almost five minutes. Lucic put his stamp on the offense, scoring twelve points in a row to give the team its biggest lead to date (60-42/28th). Sergio Rodriguez intervened - Trinchieri's timeout came immediately (60-47/29th). Sisko played calmly and also scored himself for a 63-47 lead (30th).
After the third quarter, Bayern was 64-51 in front. At the end of the third quarter, FCBB conceded a four-point play and again at the beginning of the final quarter. Milan was up to within six points - that's when Lucic fired the next three-pointer (67-58/31st). Johnson hot twice and Bayern again had some breathing room (75-63/35th). Milan's concentrated experience was dangerous and Bayern had to cope with the pressure. And it succeeded: Munich played in a controlled and focused manner. Zipser was fouled on a three-pointer, and all three free throws were made (78-66/36th). Now, just before crunch time Bayern once again stepped up their game defensively, and the lead held up (80-68/38th). Johnson worked outstandingly on the offensive boards and Sisko did his best to take seconds off the clock. For more than three minutes, the Munich team failed to score and 39 seconds before the end, the Italians had come back to 80-73. Then the entertaining free-throw game started again - Lucic was repeatedly attacked and hit every shot (except the last one) and secured the first playoff win for a German team in the EuroLeague.
TO THE SCHEDULE
Photo Credit: Eirich, Stickel, Pahnke