There was a time when winning titles in bunches was as frequent for the Brose Baskets Bamberg was as it has been witnessing complete domination and beast mode of Pittsburgh native Brad Wanamaker in the BBL this season, Oldenburg forward Ricky Paulding showing his constant unselfishness and team player side as his passing abilities can be as dangerous as his scoring at times, or Alba Berlin head coach Serb Sasa Obradovic making his unending hand movements on the sidelines when one could wonder if it’s a secret communication of his own special form of sign language. However the last time that the Brose Baskets Bamberg won a BBL title was in 2013 where they brought home the league title and one has to go back even further to 2012 when they last won a cup title. After seven titles in four years, not winning anymore in Bamberg was a very difficult habit to break for Freak City fans like refraining from beer for a longer of period of time. After a stellar performance in the semi´s against 8 time Beko BBL champion Alba Berlin, where Bamberg showed a nasty combination of physicality and bang, bang, bang intensity the club had to face off against 2009 Beko BBL champion EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Oldenburg made a great comeback against the Telekom Baskets Bonn in the other semi final and just buckled down on defense thrashing most Bonn scoring opportunities in crunch time. Under the watchful eyes of ex Bamberg head coach and new German national head coach Chris Fleming, the Brose Baskets Bamberg were unable to win their first title after he had won seven titles with the Bavarian team as the EWE Baskets staged a late comeback in the five minutes to prevail 72-70 winning their second team title after the 2009 league title. Ex NBA player Casper Ware who could pose as a Chris Rock double with his expression has had some huge games this season, but also less big games, but when it counted he stepped up hitting big shots and winning his first professional title and second after winning the Big West in college. “It feels really good to win a title again as I hadn´t done it in three years. It seems like Bamberg was shocked. Nobody thought that we could win a title, but we always believed in ourselves. We never gave up. Our new coach Mladen Drijencic really brought energy and motivated us. He prepared himself and us for beating Bamberg”, expressed Oldenburg point guard Casper Ware. The Brose Baskets Bamberg played almost flawless basketball against Alba Berlin 24 hours earlier, but just couldn´t shake off Oldenburg as they were always in striking distance and even led at times, but were unable to stop a late fourth quarter push by OLdenburg. Ex Pittsburgh(NCAA) point guard Brad Wanamaker was on MVP course as he combined for 40 points in both games, but in the end was unable to do what he does best score and his teammates also had problems with their shooting accuracy. “We weren´t as efficient as in the semifinal. They made the big plays when they had to and we didn´t. Basketball is a game of runs and usually the team with the last run wins and that is why they are the champs. We really wanted this win. This loss is tough and now we will focus on the BBL”, stressed Bamberg American Brad Wanamaker.
The EWE Baskets Oldenburg came out as if they had recovered best from the short recovery period even though they had a few hours less than Bamberg did. Ex Purdue(NCAA) standout Chris Kramer who once hit a bucket in college sitting down nailed his first two three pointers as Oldenburg led 6-0. However Bamberg soon found their shooting touch after not executing on the first two possessions by going on a 8-3 run to cut the Oldenburg lead to 9-8. In the run, Oldenburg was aided by two three pointers from American Ryan Thompson who played at Rider(NCAA) and ex Los Angeles Laker Elias Harris who played two NBA games and Oldenburg was sparked from down town by Casper Ware who tested his 32% shooting. Both teams continued to test each other as runs were on the menu as Oldenburg went on a 9-2 run to extend their lead to 18-10. Oldenburg was playing smart basketball mixing it up as their four three pointers of early was now reinforced with inside play as ex Missouri(NCAA) standout Rickey Paulding snuck inside for a bucket and ex Bamberg center Philipp Neumann was fed a quick no look pass from Ware. Oldenburg also got added insurance with free throws from Adam Chubb and ex TBB Trier forward Philipp Zwiener. Bamberg fought back going on a fast 5-0 run to cut the Oldenbug advantage to 18-17 as Latvian Janis Strelnieks nailed a three pointer and Harris showed his inside elegance with a running hook shot. Runs continued and ended the first quarter as Oldenburg struck Bamberg with a 6-0 one to lead 24-17. In the run, Oldenburg went back to their three point shooting accuracy as German Maurice Stuckey connected as did Caspar Ware. After ten minutes the EWE Baskets Oldenburg were shooting 58% from the field and 71% from outside while the Brose Baskets Bamberg were shooting 38% from the field and 75% from outside. Oldenburg led the rebound battle 9-6, but had three turnovers while Bamberg had only two turnovers.
In the second quarter both teams picked up their defensive intensity as open looks were replaced with mostly contested shots as the game remained tight and low scoring. Oldenburg scored first as Zwiener hit inside, but that was it for Oldenburg offense for a few minutes as Bamberg went on a 13-0 run to stun Oldenburg and lead 30-26. The run was started by Wannamaker who glided home for two points as he marched down the court as if it was a fast break play, but instead went coast to coast as if Oldenburg knew what he was doing, but just couldn´t slow him down. Strelnieks then scored in bunches making a three pointer and floater in traffic. Wanamaker then took a chapter out of Ware´s playmaking book as he found Neumann for a massive dunk with the no look pass. Wanamaker then scored again easily on transition as Oldenburg was napping and Trevor Mbakwe who played a year at Minnesota(NCAA) with current Fraport Skyliner Justin Cobbs posterized Robin Smeulders with an in your face dunk. Both teams then traded buckets until halftime as Casper Ware scored on a lay in demonstrating his almost unstoppable quickness and Strelnieks gave Bamberg the 32-30 advantage until Smeulders tied the game at 32-32 with free throws. 2008 German cup winner with Artland Adam Chubb scored inside on the pick and roll with Ware and Wanamaker ended the first half with free throws as the game was tied 34-34. The Brose Baskets Bamberg were shooting 42% from the field and 44% from the three point line while the EWE Baskets Oldenburg were shooting 37% from the field and 38% from the three point line. Oldenburg had the 20-14 rebound edge, but seven turnovers while Bamberg had three turnovers.
In the third quarter there were four lead changes as the Brose Baskets Bamberg took control of the game and led by three points after 30 minutes. Neumann got Oldenburg its first points as he put up a prayer that somehow reached the back board and fell through. Ex ratiopharm Ulm forward Daniel Theis and Paulding then traded three point bombs and Wanamaker made a step back jumper knotting the game at 39-39. The Brose Baskets Bamberg then went on a 7-2 run to take the 46-43 lead as Brad Wanamker took control making points in three of four possessions with a lay in and free throws as he continued to demonstrate his uncanny knack of raising that lever to the next level when he has to get his team going. Strelnieks finished the run as he also displayed quickness scoring on a reverse lay up. Zwiener quickly stopped this run by nailing a key three pointer to tie the game at 46-46. Bamberg then got timely support from ex Kentucky(NCAA) guard Darius Miller who made a runner and floater and just showed his elegance when he is around the paint. Wanamaker also hit a jumper and made free throws as Bamberg led 52-48. Stuckey closed out the third quarter with a three pointer as Bamberg led 54-51. “Wanamaker got us going and was big, but he has been doing it all season long”, expressed Philadelphia native Dawan Robinson. “It was a game of runs. Wanamaker really sparked them with free throws”, added Casper Ware. The Brose Baskets Bamberg were shooting 45% from the field and 33% from the parking lot while the EWE Baskets Oldenburg were shooting 36% from the field and 40% from the parking lot. Oldenburg led the rebound battle 27-24, but had eight turnovers while Bamberg had seven turnovers.
The EWE Baskets Oldenburg saved their best for last as half way through the last frame Bamberg led by eight points, but Oldenburg started to chip away at the oponents advantage and ended the game perfectly with a 16-6 run to win 72-70. The Brose Baskets Bamberg started the fourth quarter with a lot of intensity cruising out on a 10-5 run to lead 64-56 and Oldenburg was in danger of getting that back door slammed in their face. Oldenburg got some solid support early in the run with a Zwiener spin move lay in and Stuckey three pointer, but Bamberg were simply more productive on the offensive end as they many guys contributed like Strelnieks doing damage inside again, Mbakwe taking anew poster victim with Stuckey, a Miller runner and Robinson fast break lay in. This could have been the non-surprising turning point in the game as Bamberg always find a way to win, but instead Oldenburg out of the blue took their game to another level as suddenly everything worked on offense and defense as Oldenburg knocked out Bamberg with a back breaking 13-0 run to retake the 69-66 lead. The first blow in the run were back to back trey´s von Paulding and Aleksandrov. In this phase Bamberg weren´t making the best offensive decisions and Wanamaker just had no fortune as he missed three shots in a row and also it seemed like Oldenburg knew what he was going to do. Oldenburg now was feeling that they could win this game and kept producing on the offensive end. Kramer made free throws to tie the game at 64-64 and then it was time for the rejuvenated Neumann who left Bamberg not on the best terms in 2013 came up huge now when it counted most making three free throws and making a lay in off the Aleksandrov lob pass as Oldenburg led 69-64. On this play Neumann let out the roar of a lion which infected the arena into a frenzy as the victory was was getting closer. Bamberg had 1.18 to play and knew that they had to preform now and did as Wanamaker fed Mbakwe for the quick bucket as Oldenburg still led 69-66. However the usual strong crunch time team Bamberg couldn´t get stops as Ware once again hurt Bamberg with his penetration scoring inside for the 71-66 lead. Bamberg took their last grasp of energy putting one last scare to Oldenburg going on a mini 4-0 run in the last minute to cut the Oldenburg lead to 71-70 as Miller hit a runner and Robinson scored on the fast break. With 12 seconds to play Neumann made one free throw for the 72-70 Oldenburg lead. Bamberg had one last try to send the game into overtime or win it with a three, but Robinson missed and Oldenburg was set to open the champagne as they had won another title. After the siren sounded, the EWE arena was put into a mad house as the joy on the faces of the players was indescribable as the last weeks had been tough with the departure of head coach Sebastain Machowski and the seemingly downward turn of the team, so this win was so much sweeter and the first player to shed tears openly was Philipp Neumann. “We bought in as a team and won together as a team. We were sparked by big shots and the play of Philipp Neumann at the end”, stressed Casper Ware. Bamberg took defeat hard at the end, because they were so close sipping champagne themselves. “We were in control of the game, but they hit big shots. We were simply takin by Oldenburg. Strelnieks having fouled out also hurt. I wasn´t surprised to take the last shot. It is just how it came. We have to keep our heads up and keep fighting”, warned ex Fraport Skyliner Dawan Robinson.
The EWE Baskets Oldenburg were led by Casper Ware with 13 points and six assists. Phillip Neumann added 12 points. The Brose Baskets Bamberg were led by Brad Wanamaker with 19 points, four assists and four rebounds. Janis Strelnieks added 16 points and six rebounds while Darius Miller added 10 points. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg shot 36% from the field and 39% from outside while the Brose Baskets Bamberg shot 46% from the field and 26% from outside. Oldenburg won the rebound duel 37-31 and both teams had nine turnovers a piece. Even if Bamberg didn´t win a title, this bitter loss should give them a huge push for doing damage in May and June and sipping champagne at the end of the season. “Nobody likes this feeling if defeat. We don´t want to have this feeling again and lose”, warned Brad Wanamaker. Oldenburg knows that they will cherish this title, because winning the league title will be a total different ball game. “This title gave us a push, but the playoffs is a lot harder. We will need to be even more focused for the playoffs”, warned Casper Ware.