BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Bamberg clinched their fourth German championship in a row on Sunday (photo: fotoduda.de / Beko BBL)|
Brose Baskets Bamberg completed a much more difficult than the result suggests three-game sweep of EWE Baskets Oldenburg on Sunday night to clinch their fourth consecutive German BEKO Bundesliga title.
The German champions defeated the EuroChallenge semi-finalists 91-88 in overtime at home on Sunday, after the end of regulation found the two opponents tied at 74.
Bamberg had previously prevailed by a two-point margin in nail-biting encounters in Game 1, also at Bamberg, and in Game 2 on the road.
In Game 3, Oldenburg were off to a better start despite playing without sidelined through injury small forward Rickey Paulding, and grabbed a five-point lead at half-time.
In the clutch however Slovenian international Bostjan Nachbar and young German center Maik Zirbes made clear they would do anything to prevent the title series from going into a fourth game.
As the hosts came from behind to force overtime, the duo combined for 12 consecutive points that tipped the balance in favour of their team in the extra period before Bamberg captain Casey Jacobsen sealed the big victory with two shots from the free-throw line.
Nachbar led all scorers with 20 points on 8-for-15 shooting from the floor; Jacobsen had 15 points and seven rebounds, whilst Zirbes and Alex Renfoe contributed 14 points each with the German international also grabbing seven boards.
Slovak international Anton Gavel had only four points in Game 3 of the title series but had been superb all season long for Bamberg, leading the champions in scoring with 14.8 points per game, and was voted as the Finals MVP.
|Slovakia international Anton Gavel was voted MVP of the Finals|
"Many experts had already written us off and talked about a change of guard yet here we are standing now, celebrating our fourth championship in a row," Gavel said after the game.
Bamberg had lost eight games during the Regular Season, more than in the last two years combined, as they had topped the standings with only two losses in 2011 and four losses in 2012.
Then in the play-off semi-finals they were pushed to their limits by ambitious contenders Bayern Munich but came up with a big performance in the deciding Game 5 to punch their ticket to the Finals.
"Wow, it is the fourth consecutive triumph and it was the hardest for us so far, congratulations to the team for this success," a jubilant Jacobsen said.
Meanwhile Bamberg head coach Chris Fleming had words of praise for their opponents in the Finals.
"I congratulate Oldenburg, they have delivered an outstanding season with great consistency," he said of the EuroChallenge semi-finalists.
"They were always there and have more than earned their place in the final.
"It would also have been possible for Oldenburg to win the title with three to zero, so a lot of respect to this team.
"In March, we would not have considered ourselves as championship candidates, but the guys went through a lot of training and were prepared to sacrifice today, that is what made it possible in the play-offs.
"A miracle of miracles," Fleming headlined his players' effort that brought the fourth title in as many years to Bamberg.