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Bayern advance in Eurocup

FC Bayern Basketball defeated ALBA Berlin 84-75 in a 'do-or-die' second leg of the Eurocup Last 16 and qualified for the quarterfinals.

Munich and ALBA got to know each other well over the past two weeks, and they played a classic in their final of four consecutive matchups in all competitions. Berlin came in to prove their 30-point loss on Sunday was a fluke by jumping out to the early lead, but Munich corrected themselves to build a lead by halftime. ALBA played it close throughout, but Bayern were not going to let this decisive matchup slip out of their hands on their homecourt, displaying crunchtime resolve to hold off their German rivals and avenge the loss in the German Cup final.

Dusko Savanovic and Alex Renfroe led Munich, each scoring 17 points. Anton Gavel chipped in 15 points while Paul Zipser contributed 10 points and two key blocks.

Bayern's win earns them a home-and-away series with Galatasaray Basket in the Eurocup Quarterfinals. Before that, Bayern will travel to face Mitteldeutscher BC on Sunday, March 6th, and return home for a date with the FRAPORT Skyliners on Sunday, March 13th. The Eurocup home date will be set for either March 15th or 16th in the Audi Dome.

Scoring by quarter (FCBB - ALBA): 23-20, 21-14, 16-20, 24-21

FC Bayern Team: Dusko Savanovic (17 points/4 rebounds), Alex Renfroe (17/5 reb), Anton Gavel (15/5 reb), Paul Zipser (10/5 reb), Deon Thompson (6), Justin Cobbs (6), Bryce Taylor (6), Daniel Mayr (5), John Bryant (2). DNP: Karim Jallow, Sebastian Schmitt and Maximilian Kleber.

POSTGAME REACTION

Svetislav Pesic, Head Coach, FCBB: "One should compliment both teams. At the end, we had more experience which was probably the decisive point. Of course the great support of our fans helped. We will take the positives from this game and see what we need to improve. Congrats to my team for making the next round. We wanted to make the next round of Eurocup against any opponent to continue the development of basketball in the region."

Sasa Obradovic, Head Coach, ALBA: "Congratulations to Bayern. They truly deserved the victory today. But we can be quite satisfied with our Eurocup season, especially after all the injury problems we had. I wish Bayern all the best for the next round, they will face a tough opponent."

Paul Zipser, Forward, FCBB: "We have never made the quarterfinals of any international competition. It is a great feeling, because we earned it. Now we also want to show in the next round that we can still continue."

Anton Gavel, Guard, FCBB: : "We have experienced guys and playing together in the Euroleague helped us in those last five, six minutes. It was painful to lose the Cup at home, but we learned a little bit, our coaches prepared us for the next three games and we're happy we didn't lose."

GAME HIGHLIGHTS

1st Quarter

A week ago, Bayern Basketball and ALBA Berlin played to a draw, making this second leg a 'winner takes all' matchup. FCBB Head Coach Svetislav Pesic called on Justin Cobbs, Anton Gavel, Paul Zipser, Deon Thompson and John Bryant as the same starting five from Sunday's blowout win in the Bundesliga. ALBA Head Coach Obradovic promised his team would start off better and they delivered, jumping out to the 7-0 lead. Gavel got Munich on the board with a three-pointer from the corner but Berlin would extend the lead to 13-5.

Cobbs sparked Bayern's offense with a jumper, Alex Renfroe hit a trey, and Dusko Savanovic stole the ball of the inbounds play, dished to Renfroe up ahead for the easy layup, timeout Berlin (12-13, 7'). Youngster Daniel Mayr stepped up as John Bryant got into early foul trouble and converted a three-point-play for Munich's first lead (17-15, 8'). ALBA got back in front, but Mayr sank both his free-throws to give the advantage back to his team and Cobbs did as well. Bayern led 23-20 after the first quarter.

2nd Quarter

Bayern got into early foul trouble to start the second quarter, Berlin was in the bonus less than two minutes in. After the visitors tied it up at 23-all, Savanovic drove, got the hoop-and-the-harm, the free-throw was good to complete the three-point-play (26-23, 12'). Munich were crisp with their passing throughout the evening, able to make that one extra pass and this time found Bryant for the score. Savanovic followed as well with a bucket, Coach Obradovic was forced to call time (30-23, 13').

After taking the hard foul in last game, Paul Zipser came in and played with determination. First scoring on a nice back-and-forth with Bryce Taylor. Savanovic followed with a drive through the lane and the lay-in to build a ten-point lead (36-26, 15'). Zipser then took over, swishing a jumper after a Berlin turnover. The German national made both his free-throws, and then made a fantastic block on the other end. Gavel grabbed the loose ball, took it coast-to-coast for the layup, timeout ALBA (44-29, 19'). Berlin settled matters down, scoring the final five points but Munich led 44-34 at halftime.

3rd Quarter

Despite the 30-point win on Sunday, the fans expected a close game and the second half delivered. After Thompson and Cobbs opened up a Bayern 12-point lead at 48-36, Bryant earned his fifth foul and had to take a seat. As Thompson had just gone to the bench for a breather, Mayr was called back in action. ALBA took full advantage of the youngster, scoring eight consecutive points thanks to their big men inside, Coach Pesic called for time (48-44, 25').

ALBA kept chipping away, and finally got to within 52-51, but Munich's defense created the offense again. Thompson now back in, he blocked the shot, Renfroe took the rebound the distance for the score (54-51, 29'). Yet another Berlin turnover and Thompson scored for some breathing room at 56-51. Taylor converted all four of his free-throws and Bayern held onto the 60-54 lead heading into the deciding quarter.

4th Quarter

After the draw in the first leg, the stage was set for winner to take it all. Gavel decided he was going to steal it, his interception set up a bounce pass ahead to Renfroe for the transition bucket (62-54, 32'). ALBA crept back with a three-point-play and a three-pointer, but Gavel was on target from distance for a trey himself (65-60, 34'). Both clubs could feel the beginning of crunchtime and Munich responded with patience while running their plays. Good ball movement found Savanovic under the basket who dished off to Zipser for the reverse layup (68-63, 36'). Zipser swished a jumper on the next possesion (70-65, 37').

The ball zipped around once more on offense exactly how Pesic drew it up, Gavel knocked down the score, timeout Berlin (72-65, 38'). Munich knew from the Cup Final and the first leg of this Eurocup series, no lead was safe and they came out to nail this victory. Zipser with another key block to stop any ALBA hope, and Renfroe was good from beyond-the-arc to get the Audi Dome crowd thinking next round (75-65, 39'). Savanovic and Thompson each scored to put the final stamp on this victory (79-68, 40'). Berlin were not going to come back this time, Bayern Basketball would move on for the first time to the quarterfinal round of any European competition.

UPCOMING GAMES

Beko BBL, Gameday 24:
Sunday, March 6th, 17:00 CET
FC Bayern Basketball at Mitteldeutscher BC

Beko BBL, Gameday 25:
Sunday, March 13th, 17:00 CET, Audi Dome
FC Bayern Basketball vs FRAPORT Skyliners

Eurocup, Quarterfinals, Game 1
March 15th or 16th, TBA, Audi Dome
FC Bayern Basketball vs Galatasaray Basket