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Thriller

Bayern win in overtime, return to finals

FC Bayern Basketball earned the chance to defend their BEKO Basketball Bundesliga title from last season by defeating ALBA Berlin 101-96 in overtime to win the semifinal series 3-2.

Just like the previous two games, the deciding game was a back-and-forth exchange between two teams eager to make the Finals against the Brose Baskets. It was appropriate that this game needed an extra five minutes to extend the drama and intensity. Jamel McLean helped Berlin to the halftime lead, but a hot-shooting Nihad Djedovic outscored the league MVP (30 to 29) and added five assists and four steals. Munich's long distance accuracy was key, 14 three-pointers (50%) kept them close and ultimately won their first game on ALBA's home court this season to win the series after trailing 2 games to 1.

Game One of the BBL Finals start in Bamberg on Sunday, June 7th (tip-off 15:00 CEST). Bayern will host Game 2 on Wednesday, June 10th at the Audi Dome.

Scoring by quarter (FCBB - ALBA): 18-22, 23-22, 25-19, 22-25, 13-8

FC Bayern team: Nihad Djedovic (30 points/5 assists/4 steals), Vladimir Stimac (14/4 rebounds), Heiko Schaffartzik (13/3 ast), Bryce Taylor (13/4 ast), John Bryant (12/8 reb), Dusko Savanovic (12), Paul Zipser (4), Anton Gavel (3), Robin Benzing. DNP: Jan Jagla, Vasilije Micic, Lucca Staiger.

FC BAYERN BASKETBALL VS ALBA BERLIN

BEKO BBL Playoffs, Semifinals
FCBB win best-of-five series 3-2

Game 1 - FCBB 55, at ALBA 81

Game 2 - at FCBB 85, ALBA 73

Game 3 - FCBB 88, at ALBA 101

Game 4 - at FCBB 89, ALBA 83

Game 5 - FCBB 101, at ALBA 96 (OT)

POSTGAME REACTION:

Svetislav Pesic, Head Coach, FCBB: "This fifth game of the semifinals was the third intense game in seven days, and I have never experienced both teams shooting like they did. That was an excellent game by both teams, it was a festival of basketball. Of course, we are very happy that we won; if ALBA had won, it would have been well-deserved. We were more calm in the deciding moments. I congratulate my team and my coaching staff, especially Muki (Assistant Coach Emir Mutapcic)."

Heiko Schaffartzik, Guard, FCBB: "It was a great series. We came together as a team after our coach was ejected, shouting 'now more than ever!'. What Nihad Djedovic showed today, I have not seen from a player in a long time. He carried us today. Important today was that we were never shaken, we always hit back. But there's nothing to celebrate at all. Now we want to beat Bamberg."

Nihad Djedovic, Forward, FCBB: "First, I must congratulate Berlin. Both teams deserved to make the Finals. I am very happy that we did it. We are still the reigning champions. No one should write us off easy, especially after Svetislav Pesic's ejection. But we showed heart and managed to earn it. Bamberg will also be hard because we will again need an away win."

GAME HIGHLIGHTS:

1st Quarter

Anton Gavel, Bryce Taylor, Nihad Djedovic, Dusko Savanovic and John Bryant took the court as the starting five in this decisive Game Five of the Basketball Bundesliga semifinals. The winner would earn the matchup with the Brose Baskets in the league Finals. Jamel McLean was going to make sure as MVP, he would do all he could to get Berlin to play for the title and he started the scoring. But Djedovic came out displaying a hot-hand, his three-pointer gave Munich their first lead (5-4, 2' minutes).

As in Game One, Berlin came out to run. First McLean with a "touchdown" pass to Reggie Redding for a score, then payback as Redding with a long assist to McLean (5-10, 4'). Marko Banic scored after a Munich turnover, and FCBB Head Coach Svetislav Pesic called a timeout (7-12, 5'). Taylor spurred the Reds back, Heiko Schaffartzik set him up for the easy layin, then a corner three-ball was good (12-14, 7'). Stimac evened it up after a Berlin turnover on the next possession (14-14, 8'). Leon Radosevic scored twice around a Djedovic three-pointer, Berlin led 22-18 after the first quarter.

2nd Quarter

In the second quarter, every Bayern score was answered by Berlin as the hosts maintained the lead. Schaffartzik hit a three-pointer to get within two points, but Bryant lost the rebound later on defense and McLean cleaned up the mess with a dunk (21-27, 13'). Bryant made up for that lost opportunity, first a nice assist to Djedovic and then a jumper to get Munich back to within two points, timeout ALBA (25-27, 14'). Djedovic started the game hot, and there was no cooling him off. Two treys in a row kept the Reds close (31-33, 16'). Gavel and Savanovic were also accurate from distance, but Berlin stayed in front (37-40, 18'). McLean's free throws and basket made sure ALBA took a 44-41 halftime lead.

3rd Quarter

Stimac came out of the break like a house on fire, first a bucket and after converting a pair of free-throws, he nailed a three-pointer to tie the game (48-48, 23'). After McLean dunked it home for a three-point lead, Savanovic joined in on the long distance party, his trey tied it up again (52-52, 24'). Djedovic and Paul Zipser each scored to build a 56-53 lead when the referees called a technical foul on Pesic (26'). The officials were then quick to assess another technical on the Munich coach, which meant Pesic was ejected from the game and had to leave the bench. Assistant Coach Emir Mutapcic would take over the reins in this do-or-die game.

The champs were not fazed, rallied together and around their coaches and continued to build the lead. Savanovic and Bryant scored to make it 64-57, timeout Berlin (27'). Zipser would fight for the loose ball on ALBA's next possession and sprinted down the court for the slam dunk (66-57, 28'). Berlin's turn to answer, and they finished the quarter with a 6-0 run but Bayern held on to a 66-63 lead into the final quarter.

4th Quarter

Berlin continued their run - in total a 9-0 spurt between quarters - to tie the game. Radosevic finished it off with a thunderous slam to the enjoyment of the home crowd (66-66, 32'). That sparked Berlin's big guns as Redding and McLean took over. First Redding for three and the lead. Then, off a turnover, Redding fed McLean for the slam, rocking the rim and Bayern's confidence (71-75, 35'). Mutapcic called time out. ALBA sensed it was time to close out Bayern, and they kept the scores coming. McLean with an offensive rebound and score, and Redding from way behind the arc... good! (77-82, 37').

However, Bayern showed their championship mettle in the waning moments, not wanting their title defense to end. Stimac and Djedovic scored to keep the Reds in striking distance. Schaffartzik, dead-on in crunch time in Gamer Four of the Finals last year, came up trumps again on the very same court - accurate from downtown, tie game! (85-85, 38'). Timeout Berlin but they turned it right over on the next possession. Munich had trouble finding an open shot, but were saved on an ALBA kickball. The shot clock on the following possession ticked away, and all Taylor could muster was a fall away prayer from the corner... but it found the bottom of the net!! Three-pointer from the team captain, Bayern led 88-85! (39').

McLean answered with layup off an alley-oop from Alex Renfroe and drew the foul, the three-point play tied it up (88-88). Still time for a game-winner and a hero. First Djedovic, the Bosnian missed a three-pointer. McLean drove against Bryant from the elbow, tried to draw the foul, no whistle, and his shot hit the back iron! We were going to overtime to settle who would make it to the Finals!

Overtime

After Clifford Hammonds gave Berlin the lead at the beginning of the extra period, Taylor spun and sank a jumper from the free throw line to tie it up (90-90, 41'). Bayern's defense stepped it up, forcing consecutive Berlin turnovers, however they could only convert them into free throws (93-90, 42'). Djedovic, who started the evening good from three-point-land, was once again money from beyond the arc, straight on target for three! (96-92, 43'). However McLean was not going to let his MVP season end, he had a key offensive rebound and put back after picking himself off the floor. The Brooklyn native finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. Hammonds followed with a bucket to tie it up (96-96, 44').

But in crunchtime, it was Berlin's nerves that cracked. After Schaffartzik converted both of his free throws, Bryant came up with a big block. Djedovic added another free throw for his 30th point (99-96, 45'), ALBA would then turn it over on a backcourt violation. The hosts got the ball back, but Renfroe's three-point attempt went in-and-out, and Bryant came up with the huge rebound. McLean, sensing the season slipping away, committed an unsportsmanlike foul on Big Country. Two made free throws later by the Californian, Bayern were victorious 101-96 and returning to the Finals to defend their BBL title.

FC BAYERN BASKETBALL VS BROSE BASKETS

BEKO BBL Playoffs, Finals
Best-of-five series

Game 1 - Sunday, June 7, 15:00 CEST at Bamberg

Game 2 - Wednesday, June 10, 20:00 CEST, Audi Dome

Game 3 - Sunday, June 14, 19:00 CEST at Bamberg

Game 4* - Wednesday, June 17, 20:00 CEST, Audi Dome

Game 5* - Sunday, June 21, 15:00 CEST, at Bamberg

* if necessary