A third quarter flurry wasn’t enough to paper over an issue that is hampering Brose Bamberg’s playoff hopes, writes Emmet Ryan
The talent is clearly there. Janis Strelnieks may understand the sixth man role as well as anyone in Euroleague. Fabian Causeur, Nic Melli, and Nikos Zisis are bona fide top tier club talents. Darius Miller is just a threat whenever anyone needs him to be. Andrea Trinchieri may be mad but he is also a proven coach at getting the most out of what’s around him. Yet, for all that, the German champions sit at 2-5 and are already two games out of the playoff spots.
It’s easy to look at the breaks. Bamberg lost three of those five games but just a single point, another by two points, and their widest margin of defeat is just four. This isn’t a team going out and getting pounded for 40 minutes but it is a team that needs to stop relying on luck because the house doesn’t favour them right now.
The first half of last night’s 78-79 defeat at home to Crvena Zvezda summed up the biggest problem Bamberg has. This is a talented team that is used to setting the tone. It wants to run the game its way and do so smoothly. In a 30 game season, that’s not going to be enough. Zvezda drew Brose Bamberg into a slugfest for the opening 20 minutes with some of the worst offence, from both sides, on show in this season to date. The Belgrade club’s defensive credentials however are as stout as they come. Bamberg’s big show in the third quarter, with Nic Melli in particular coming huge, got them out of a hole but that famous post half-time charge of the Bavarians needs to be about putting the hammer down rather than getting out of trouble.
When Bamberg runs its game, the third frame can be hell for opponents. Fresh from the break, especially at home, this is a side that has a habit of killing games in that 10 minute frame. Instead, last night it was about salvaging it. The final two Bamberg possessions, where they were far too predictable (although props to Milko Bjelica for fantastic awareness), and the defensive lapse on Zvezda’s winning bucket can be seen as bad breaks. In a way, they were, but a full 40 minute game where Bamberg can go from down and dirty to its more fluid game would have made this moot.
Trinchieri has a shot at making up for the loss quickly this week, albeit with a tough road trip to Baskonia, but what he really needs is to look at what Bamberg does once it hits the one third marker of the season. These next three games should be about organisation and mentality, two assets that Trinchieri is kind of a beast at. That’s what is so surprising here. The Italian, who’s ability to be as calm headed as they come when the hour calls, has a proven track record of finding the best way to make the assets he has work. Domestically, his charges are dominating at 10-0. That switch to Euroleague play, where the standard is obviously higher, may be dramatic but it also presents an opportunity.
In a long season, Trinchieri’s charges should have a huge advantage in terms of overall health and stamina. Being battle test domestically is over-rated. There are enough tests in the Euroleague regular season that a relatively comfortable national league load should be seen as a bonus. Bamberg won’t have to grind as much against those teams but that doesn’t somehow render them incapable of doing it midweek. Look at this roster, these are guys used to having to fight against deeper opposition be it with other clubs or at national level.
Time remains on Bamberg’s side even though fortune hasn’t been there for the club of late. Now it’s time to force luck to go this team’s way.