The men from Freak City took a 2-1 lead over Bayern in the Bundesliga Finals on Sunday but Emmet Ryan says Brose Baskets’ future on the court is still dependent on closing the deal
Game 1 could have been a lot worse. Two shellackings earlier this year in quick succession worse to be precise. Still, when Bamberg failed to strike first in the Bundesliga Finals the fear of a sweep looked a lot more real. Bayern may have only taken the game 84-73, much closer than those earlier routs, but the fact was the reigning champions had walked into the loudest arena in Germany and won without fuss right after squeezing past Alba Berlin in a draining Game 5.
The tone was changed with a stunning result in Game 2. Bamberg were taken apart through the opening 20 minutes. Trailing by 14 at the half, Brose Baskets simply didn’t look like a team that could live with Bayern. In Munich and in a hole, Andrea Trinchieri’s side pulled off an absolutely vital comeback. Brad Wanamaker notched a double-double as Bamberg spread the offensive load, with five players in double-digits. The D kept Bayern to just 29 points in the second half as Bamberg regained home court advantage with a 78-80 comeback win.
Sunday however was still going to be a test. In the series against Alba we had seen Bayern bounce back with ease after looking wholly outplayed. For 20 minutes they ran with Bamberg and then Trevor Mbakwe led the takeover. A 26-14 third quarter put some space between the sides and Bayern never really came back within striking distance. For a side that has developed a habit of shooting itself out of trouble, the Munich club looked spent in the final 20 minutes. Perhaps, finally, the toll of a long post-season is hitting the club.
The motivation for both sides is as obvious as it gets, in Germany the Bundesliga title is the ultimate goal. A Euroleague or even Eurocup title seems beyond the capabilities or indeed budgets of its clubs but participation in the former competition is still vital for progress. Bayern know their win over Alba in the semi-finals was enough to punch their ticket. They are getting a wild card if they fail to lift the trophy but domestic glory is still crucial for the growth of Bayern as a hoops brand.
For Bamberg, it’s all about the glory and the promise of an adventure. Within the limits of that small medieval city, Brose Baskets could not get any bigger. They ruled Germany for every summer bar the last since 2010. With those triumphs came adventures in Euroleague and clashes with the giants of the continent. The only route to the show, the only way they play against the best there is, comes via lifting the Bundesliga crown. The domestic title may matter more and this is, after all, a Bavarian derby, but there can be no sweeter bonus than knowing they move on to the big show next autumn. Failure and Alba get the wild card.
On Wednesday the series returns to Munich. We will quickly learn if Bayern have the energy to deny or at least delay Bamberg taking a seat at Europe’s top table.