From the In Case You Missed It Department, David Hein reports to BallinEurope on recent events in the Austrian Bundesliga and most importantly on a ridiculous quadruple-overtime game that went down in late February amidst an incredibly tight race for the playoffs there.
Publicly accessible highlights of this “Thriller für die Ewigkeit”, ECE Bulls Kapfenberg’s 60-minute 137-127 victory over WBC Raiffeisen Wels, are lacking on YouTube, Daily Motion et al (not too much of a market for Austrian basketball it seems…), but a comprehensive highlight clip may be seen at the Admiral Basketball Bundesliga official website.
The race in the Austrian Admiral Basketball Bundesliga can hardly get any closer as the top five teams are just one game apart in the standings three games into the second stage of the season.
Regular season winners Xion Dukes Klosterneuberg dropped their third straight game to fall to 17-6 and are now in a tie with 2011 runners-up Allianz Swans Gmunden. Following these, knotted up at 16-7 are WBC Raiffeisen Wels, reigning champions Oberwart Gunners and ECE Bulls Kapfenberg while Carefuel Güssing Knights are 11-12 as the final team in the six-team second stage.
Werder Sallomon’s Klosterneuberg are still winless since the end of the regular season, losing at Güssing and Kapfenberg as well as at home against Oberwart.
Klosterneuberg fell last weekend against Kapfenberg, who got a season-high 24 points from Demetrius Nelson while Austrian international playmaker Thomas Schreiner collected 16 points, nine assists and three steals.
Kapfenberg held Curtis Bobb to a season-low seven points while Jason Chappell is still out injured; the latter has not played since the end of the regular season. Klosterneuberg did get 23 points from Austrian international Christoph Nagler, but it was not enough.
Just six days earlier, on February 20, Kapfenberg were part of Austrian basketball’s game of the century, as the Bulls won their second-stage opener at home against Wels in quadruple overtime, 137-127 – a first in the nation’s basketball history.
Both teams had players put up video game-like numbers; Jeremy Fears led the way with 43 points, five rebounds, five assists and six steals for Kapfenberg while Schreiner scored 31 points and Larry Gordon collected 18 points and 22 rebounds in the victory. Wels had three players contributing double-doubles in Martin Kohlmaier (29 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks), Todd Brown (27 points, 10 rebounds) and Davor Lamesic (26 points, 14 rebounds) while Quentin Pryor poured in 27 points in the loss.
Naturally, game was a thriller throughout. Wels captain Lamesic made just one of two free throws with 0:04 remaining, sending the game to overtime. Lamesic bounced back from the adversity and drained two three-pointers in the final minute of the first OT to keep the game going.
With Kapfenberg down by three with 0:26 on the clock in the second overtime Schreiner died the game only to see Pryor nail a triple with five seconds left. Then Fears showed no fear in nailing a three-ball of his own to force a third extra session – but Fears would go on to miss three of four free throws in the final 27 seconds of overtime number three while Brown’s two foul shots with 0:07 remaining sent the game into a fourth extension.
Wels appeared to be winning the war of attrition – three players from each team fouled out – as Kohlmaier scored nine straight points in the fourth overtime and the Wels lead got up to 124-120. But Fears then knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to spark a 14-0 Bulls run and the game finally ended after 60 minutes of action.
“What can I say – I am simply speechless,” said Bulls head coach Ante Perica after the epic battle.
While Kapfenberg came up with its biggest win and also beat the leaders Klosterneuberg, the hottest team in the ÖBL is reigning champions Oberwart.
Neno Asceric’s team has reeled off eight straight victories – including wins over Gmunden and at Klosterneuberg – to jump to 16-7. The winning streak came after a four-game losing stretch that dropped Oberwart’s record to 8-7. The last six of the Gunners’ wins have come since the departure of top scorer and rebounder, former Austin Peay State University Governor Drake Reed, on January 19 and the signing of Bosnian Esmir Rizvic.
“Drake is a great basketball player but the harmony over the last couple weeks was not how we imagined. Drake was unsatisfied, we [were] as well. So the only solution to the difficult situation was to part ways,” said Oberwart general manager Andreas Leitner at the time of Drake’s depature.
The trio of Joe Dean Shaw II, Nikola Gacesa and Rizvic has since been dominating, as all three are averaging in double figures over the last six games: Shaw at 21.0, Gacesa at 13.5, and Rizvic at 12.8 points per. And Vernard Hollins has averaged 12.5 ppg in the last four games after missing the two before that.
With seven game days left in the second stage, the ÖBL race will likely go down to the wire for spots in the playoffs.
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.