Four teams remain in the Austrian basketball playoffs and BallinEurope contributing writer David Hein is paying close attention, giving us another roundup of recent action there.
Top-seeded Allianz Swans Gmunden roared back from a double-digit third quarter deficit to beat WBC Raiffeisen Wels in overtime in Game One to defend home court in the Austrian Admiral Basketball Bundesliga semifinal playoffs while ECE Bulls Kapfenberg stole home court advantage by beating Xion Dukes Klosterneuberg.
Morris Curry stayed red hot, scoring 31 points – including two free throws with three seconds left – and Dan Oppland collected 21 points and 19 rebounds as Gmunden beat fourth-seeded Wels 87-84 in overtime.
Swans are missing their third- and fourth-leading scorers and rebounders in Richard Poiger and Reggie Arnold – both of whom have already undergone knee surgery and will not play in the playoffs – but Curry picked up his game and helped Gmunden come back and keep home court advantage.
“We have a lot of injuries but it wasn’t an excuse,” said Curry. “Nobody is feeling sorry for us. We have to come out and play tough basketball. We believed in ourselves. This series is gonna be tough. Wels is a great team.”
Ali Farokhmanesh, Davor Lamesic and Todd Brown all hit three-pointers to start the third quarter for Wels to open a 50-37 lead. Swans got it to within 58-56 just before end of third and the hosts were down 66-62 when Brown committed his second unsportsmanlike and was ejected with four minutes left in regulation. Quentin Pryor made just one of two foul shots with eight seconds left before Curry hit a jumper with 0:01 remaining to force overtime.
Wels could not hit shots in overtime but Gmunden made just four of eight free throws in overtime to allow the guests to stay in the game. But Curry knocked down two foul shots with three seconds to play to secure the win.
Brown led Wels with 21 points while Pryor had 15 points and seven assists and Roman Vieider came off the bench for 11 points and nine rebounds.
“They played well down the stretch. You have to give them credit,” said Farokhmanesh. “We just missed some shots and we were breaking down defensively. It would have been nice to have taken home court advantage. But we have to be ready in two days.”
Game Two is Sunday in Gmunden.
In the other semifinal showdown, third-seeded Kapfenberg stole home court advantage with a 69-65 win in Klosterneuburg as Deteri Mayes scored 18 points while Larry Gordon had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Demetrius Nelson added 9 points and 13 rebounds.
Dukes jumped ahead 9-0 but then watched as Bulls fought back for a 12-11 lead. Klosterneuburg opened a seven-point lead in the second quarter but the game was deadlocked at halftime. The hosts were up by five in the third only to see Kapfenberg up 48-47 after three quarters.
There were seven lead changes in the first 2:30 of the fourth quarter and Klosterneuburg led 64-59 with two minutes to play.
Down 65-64, the Bulls’ Chadwick Gray (26 seconds left) and Gordon (3 seconds left) both made two free throws to open a 68-65 lead. Kapfenberg then forced a five-second violation and Mayes hit one of two foul shots with three seconds remaining to ice the game.
Klosterneuburg made just one of five free throws – compared to the 14-of-17 for Kapfenberg – and were led by 16 points from Ramiz Suljanovic and 10 points and 12 rebounds from Jason Chappell.
“Despite a lot of mistakes and unconcentrated play, we deserved to win today. A compliment to the entire team. They made the right decisions,” said Bulls general manager Michael Schrittwieser, whose Bulls were without Jeremy Fears, the team leader in scoring, assists and steals.
“It’s too bad. Even though we didn’t play well we still had a chance to win. But we didn’t use it,” said Dukes coach Werder Sallomon.
Klosterneuburg hope to even the series 1-1 on Sunday at home.
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.