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Alba edge hurting Bayern

Despite a fierce and strong performance, FC Bayern Basketball lost 83-80 against ALBA Berlin in the top matchup of Week 8 in the BEKO Basketball Bundesliga season. In front of 12,110 fans in the O2 World, a decimated Bayern team took their hosts to the limit and even had a chance to steal a win seconds before the end of the game. The energetic performance would not be enough for the German league champs, as Berlin controlled the boards (43-28 ALBA advantage in rebounds).

Bayern started the game without Robin Benzing (stomach flu) along with Bryce Taylor and Paul Zipser, who are both still nursing injuries. During the game, Anton Gavel (ankle) and Nihad Djedovic (groin) had to leave the court after sustaining injuries. Djedovic still finished as Bayern's leading scorer with 18 points.

Scoring by quarter (FCBB - ALBA): 19-22, 21-25, 18-16, 22-20

FC Bayern team: Nihad Djedovic (18 points/4 rebounds), John Bryant (13/6), Vasilije Micic (10/4 assists), Heiko Schaffartzik (9/6 assists), Anton Gavel (8), Dusko Savanovic (7/5 rebounds), Lucca Staiger (6/2 three-pointers), Yassin Idbihi (5), Vladimir Stimac (4), and Jan Jagla. DNP: Daniel Mayr and Mauricio Marin.


Svetislav Pesic, Head Coach, FCBB: "That was a very intense game. I congratulate both teams, of course Berlin for winning, but also my team. I had the impression that we could also win. But when you have such an intense game, you need to be in very good physical condition. And we are unfortunately not, we are not healthy and fighting a virus and injuries. I am not one who looks for excuses, but given the situation, I compliment my players. They have given their maximum that they are able to at the moment."

Sasa Obradovic, Head Coach, ALBA Berlin: "I also congratulate both teams. We extended a lot of energy on Friday and today didn't play smart in many situations. One day of preparation against a big opponent is not enough as we also have issues with injuries. But we found a way to maintain a certain team chemistry and win games like this. We have much to discuss but we can enjoy this first - this was a big win."

Lucca Staiger, Shooting Guard, FCBB: "We are of course disappointed that we lost. We fought like crazy despite our personnel problems and then losing Anton and Nihad at the end."


1st Quarter
The already depleted Bayern were now without national player Robin Benzing who suffered through the night with the stomach flu. Vasilije Micic, who missed the Euroleague game against Turow Zgorzelec on Thursday in Poland because of the same sickness, traveled to Berlin and was available for minimal duty. This also applied to the beat up Dusko Savanovic. With missing players, Head Coach Svetislav Pesic nominated youngsters Mauricio Marin and Daniel Mayr on short-notice to the squad. Captain Bryce Taylor (groin surgery) and Paul Zipser (rehab) are not yet able to play.

Coach Pesic chose a brand new starting five for the rematch of last year's Bundesliga Finals due to all the personnel issues: Lucca Staiger, Heiko Schaffartzik, Anton Gavel, Dusko Savanovic and John Bryant. It was clear from the first minutes that this was going to be an intense slugfest. Schaffartzik scored the first Bayern points after close to two minutes with a three-pointer. The German league champs tried with a lot of effort to find their rhythm but lacked flow on offense in the opening minutes. In addition, Bryant committed his third personal foul after four minutes. The start for Bayern was anything but optimal (3-11, 5th minute).

But Bayern showed their fighting spirit early, Gavel and Savanovic scored to cut the deficit down to 7-11 (6th min). The game was very intense as both teams focused on defense. Coach Pesic subsituted early and often to maintain energy levels. After a nice no-look pass from Schaffartzik, Nihad Djedovic made it 12-15, Bayern back in it after 8 minutes in this top matchup. The German league champs were consistent from the free-throw line in the first quarter (9-for-10). The game in the first ten minutes was played in a style that fit Schaffartzik in his former office - 8 points and a three-pointer from way downtown (19-22).

2nd Quarter
Bayern found their rhythm much quicker at the restart. But turnovers made life difficult (22-30, 13th min). Munich now had to be careful to not let the game get away. Staiger reduced the double-digit deficit down to 25-33 with a three-pointer (14th min). Djedovic did the same (28-35, 15th min). Bayern were once again in striking distance after their initial difficulties, even though they were weak on the boards, only grabbing five by the middle of the quarter (12 for Berlin).

All the more remarkable then was the Reds' fighting spirit - and their three-point field goal percentage - 5-of-6 from beyond the arc reached the target (33-38, 17th min). The big game was now living up to its billing, as Djedovic took over (37-40, 18th min). Bayern found their offense much easier as they improved their effort on the glass and created second chances. Bayern trailed into halftime due to a few mistakes on offense and free-throws by Berlin in the final 90 seconds (40-47).

3rd Quarter
Bryant returned in the second half after sitting since early in the game with his third foul. He promptly scored his first points of the game from the free-throw line (44-49, 23rd min). The game remained competitive but disjointed. Too many fouls called on both sides took away the flow from the game (44-52, 24th min). Offensive fireworks were missing in middle of the quarter as last year's finalists continued to duel (46-54, 26th min). FCBB were more successful now with an aggressive defense and it was under the Berlin bucket that they found themselves back in the game (52-54, 27th min).

The game continued to be dominated by the refs' whistles. Just like three days earlier in Poland, FCBB lost their chance to take the lead, and Berlin extended their lead to 10 points (53-63, 29th min). To make matters worse, after hitting a three-pointer, Gavel injured his ankle and left the court limping. Still Bayern's fighting spirit continued to be strong and they cut the deficit down to five points by the end of the quarter (58-63).

4th Quarter
Bayern started the final quarter without Gavel, who was in the locker room receiving initial treatment. Bryant and Micic scored the first points for the guests but Berlin continued to control the offensive glass, they had a significant advantage (14-5 at this moment). All the more surprising Bayern didn't not back down (64-69, 34th min). Munich's offense was led by the trio of Djedovic/Bryant/Micic in a game that was completely open five minutes before the end (68-71, 35th min). FCBB braved the injuries with an incredible performance. After Micic got Munich within 70-71, Coach Pesic and his team were dealt the next injury blow. Djedovic slipped on the floor and had to sit out the rest of the game due to a groin problem. Munich were still poised to take the lead, but Micic and Schaffartzik missed their three-point attempts. ALBA's Clifford Hammonds did not miss however (70-75, 39th min).

Bayern's sharp-shooter Staiger answered from far beyond the three-point line, keeping them close despite all the obstacles (73-75, 39th min). One minute before the end of the game, Bayern's deficit was three points. The league's top matchup was now a real thriller. Micic opened crunch time with a great drive to the hoop, Savanovic had 20 seconds before the end to give Bayern the lead but he missed (78-79). Berlin converted from the free-throw-line and led again by three points. Micic hit his free-throws and with nine seconds left, Bayern trailed by one point. However the depleted Munich side's solid effort was not enough, ALBA Berlin won 83-80.


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