With one eye on German basketball and another on European hoops in general, BallinEurope supposes David Hein is keeping his third eye viewing the happening in Austria’s Admiral Basketball Bundesliga. Today, the heinnews.com guy updates us on the playoffs over there which, despite some shocks in the tournament’s early going, has settled down a bit…
Despite the lowest three seeds all stealing home court advantage in the first round of the Austrian Admiral Basketball Bundesliga playoffs, the top four seeded teams all overcame surprises to book their spots in the semifinals.
Top seeded Allianz Swans Gmunden and No. 3 ECE Bulls Kapfenberg both dropped the first game in the best-of-five quarterfinals but knocked off BC Vienna and UBC Carefuel Güssing Knights, respectively, both winning in four games, 3-1.
Fourth-seeded WBC Raiffeisen Wels swept past the fifth-seeded reigning champs Oberwart Gunners in three games, while No. 2 seed Xion Dukes Klosterneuburg went the distance with seven seed BSC Raiffeisen Fürstenfeld Panthers for a 3-2 series win.
The Swans locked up a final four spot in Game Four in the Austrian capital by blasting BC Vienna, 93-76, thanks a monster game by Morris Curry, who had 25 points, 9 rebounds and 17 assists.
With the game tied after three quarters, Gmunden opened the fourth period on a 10-0 run and nailed five three-pointers in the fourth quarter to pull away from Vienna.
Dan Oppland had 20 points, Enis Murati had 19 points and Michael Oppland added 17 points for Swans, who will take on 2009 champions Wels in the semis, which tip off in Gmunden on Thursday.
Stjepan Stazic had 34 points for the playoff debutants Vienna, while Bryant Matthews chipped in 18 points and 11 rebounds in the defeat.
The Bulls needed overtime to finish off Güssing, 89-83, in Game Four with Chadwick Gray scoring 24 points, Larry Gordon notching a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Thomas Schreiner collecting 17 points, five rebounds, eight assists and five steals.
Kapfenberg opened an 11-point first quarter lead and the advantage was 14 points at 47-33 midway through the third quarter when Güssing went on a 22-5 run to open a three-point lead. Neither team could create a lead bigger than three points in the fourth quarter; 20-year-old Thomas Klepeisz made two foul shots with 20 seconds in regulation and Deteri Mayes missed a potential game-winning three at the buzzer to force overtime.
In the extra session, Aleksandar Djuric missed a chance to convert a three-point play to bring the Knights within 85-84 and then Schreiner hit a layup to make it a two-possession game. Mathias Klepeisz missed a three-pointer and Mayes dropped two foul shots with eight seconds left to finish the game.
“We started very good and knew that the Knights would come out of halftime with a lot of pressure. Güssing made things tough for us the entire series,” said Kapfenberg’s Andreas Kuttning.
Djuric scored a game-high 29 points while Thomas Klepeisz added 20 points and 7 rebounds for Güssing.
“We were just lacking a bit of concentration in the end and were unlucky in some situations, and now we are out of the playoffs,” Djuric. “But we can be proud of how we presented ourselves.”
Kapfenberg continue their hunt for their first title since winning four straight from 2001 to 2004 with a semifinal showdown with Dukes Klosterneuberg. The Dukes are hungry for their first crown since 1990, which ended a stretch of eight straight Austrian titles.
Klosterneuberg struggled against seventh seeded Fürstenfeld, however, and needed five games to advance. But head coach Werner Sallomon’s team bounced back in strong fashion in grabbing a 70-44 Game Five victory over Fürstenfeld.
Klosterneuburg led 27-11 after one quarter and never looked back, paced by 15 points and 11 rebounds from Christoph Nagler and 14 points, eight rebounds and four assists from Jason Chappell.
“It was a strong performance by us. We showed from the very start that we are back again and were very concentrated,” said Sallomon.
“Klosterneuburg was clearly better today but we held our own as outsider in the five games. We don’t have the quality of the Dukes. This is a young team and you have to give it time,” said Panthers manager Karl Sommer, who saw Anthony Shavies and Lorenzo O’Neal each score 13 points in the loss.
Game One between Dukes and Bulls is set for Thursday in Klosterneuburg.
Germany-based David Hein is often (justifiably, we think) dubbed by BiE as “the hardest-working man in European sportswriting.” Aside from contributing to BallinEurope, FIBA’s official website and the Bundesliga Basketball League official website, he also writes for numerous German- and English-language outlets on sports from soccer and basketball on down. Check out far-ranging samples of his work at heinnews.com.