BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Julius Jenkins was Oldenburg's go-to-guy in the clutch moments of the game, finishing with 27 points|
EuroChallenge semi-finalists EWE Baskets Oldenburg will take on reigning champions Brose Baskets Bamberg in the best-of-five title series of the German BEKO Bundesliga, starting on Sunday.
Both teams made the most of their home-court advantage in the play-off semi-finals on Thursday night, by winning their do-or-die fifth game against ratiopharm Ulm and Bayern Munich, respectively.
Oldenburg were off to an enthusiastic start against Ulm and held their guests to just 14 points in the opening quarter to take an early eight-point lead.
Ulm however soon raised their defensive effort to match that of their hosts, and although Oldenburg reached the half-time interval with their cushion almost intact, 40-33, they ran out of solutions to Ulm's defence in the third frame.
The guests finally claimed their first lead in the game, 53-52, with 1:08 left in the third period and widened the gap to four points at the start of the final stanza, 60-56.
Oldenburg coach Sebastian Machowski called a time-out and Ronald Burrell and Adam Chubb scored consecutive baskets to tie the scores at 60 after the two teams returned to the floor.
A triple from German international Per Gunther restored Ulm in the lead however and another one from Steven Esterkamp gave them their biggest lead in the game, 66-60 with just 4:48 left to play.
It was then when the hosts turned again to their trademark hard-nosed defence.
They forced their guests to a dry three-minute spell, in which they only scored two points, whereas on the other end of the floor Julius Jenkins hit two big three-pointers to give Oldenburg the lead, 70-68.
The American guard also kept his cool in the final 34 seconds to sink four vital shots from the free-throw line and Oldenburg held on for an 80-75 win and the ticket to the Finals.
Jenkins led all scorers with 27 points and added seven rebounds while Chubb had 12 points and eight boards for Oldenburg, which got contributions from all 10 of their players who stepped on the court.
For Ulm, Esterkamp had 24 points in a losing effort but Regular Season MVP John Bryant was kept to an uncharacteristically low five points, although he still collected a game-high 13 rebounds.
|Slovak international Anton Gavel led all scorers with 18 points |
While the series-decider between Oldenburg and Ulm turned out to be the nail-biting affair everyone was more or less anticipating, Bamberg claimed Game 5 against Bayern with considerable less drama.
The German champions trailed early in the game and only managed to tie the scores at 40 right before the half-time buzzer, but when they returned from the locker rooms they were determined to put an end to their contenders' ambitions.
Bamberg conceded only 13 points in the third quarter and established a double-digit lead which they widened even further in the final frame, to register an 85-66 triumph.
Slovakian international Anton Gavel paved the way for Bamberg with a game-high 18 points and added five rebounds and five assists and got plenty of support from young German center Maik Zirbes, who finished with 14 points and six boards.
For Bayern, Tyrese Rice had 16 points, while German international Robin Benzing had 11 points and Israeli international Yotam Halperin had 10 points and four assists in losing efforts.