One of the more intriguing match-ups of the play-offs is that between GHP Bamberg and KK Hemofarm. In some ways the teams have mirrored each others seasons in the FEL. Bamberg raced out of the gates early and put themselves on the map straight away with their win over Russian side Ural Great.
Hemofarm did not start strongly but won their last 5 games on the trot, a feat that no other team in the competition could equal.
As in the FEL, Bamberg and Hemofarm are both within the top clubs in their respective domestic leagues and are in the top 3 of the standings.
|Kullamäe is one of Europe's most dangerous shooters|
Hemofarm made it all the way to the Champions Cup Final Four last season. This year the roster looks different, most notably with the loss of young star Darko Milicic to the NBA. In 2001 they made it all the way to the Korac Cup final before losing out in the 2 game series to Spanish outfit Malaga.
Bamberg last played in European competition in 1999, reaching the last 32 of the Korac Cup. Their return comes on the back of a great year in the Bundesliga where they made it all the way to the league finals, before losing to Alba Berlin.
Hemofarm guard Nebojsa Bogavac has been one of the FEL’s top players this season, and has averaged 20 ppg, 3rd among all players. Bamberg does not have a single player who has scored so heavily, but their wildcard may be Estonian guard/forward Gert Kullamäe. Kullamäe can be lethal from behind the 3-point arc as Ural Great experienced first hand when he torched them for 10/14 shooting. If he can produce that kind of performance against Vrsac, it may help to neutralise the threat of Bogavac and take the pressure of the rest of his team-mates.
40 is the vital statistic of this game, the age of Bamberg guard Derrick Taylor. Taylor’s days of dominating games statistically are well behind him, but the naturalised German has been a Godsend for Bamberg in terms of experience and steady hand. He remains one of the best free throw shooters in the league a skill which has decided several games this season in favour of his team.
Another number in favour of Bamberg is their 7:0 home record and they and Unics Kazan are the only 2 teams who were undefeated at home.