Wow, things in the Austrian playoffs started with a lotta oddity. David Hein fills us in on a troika of upsets in Bundesliga play…
The first round of the Austrian Admiral Basketball Bundesliga playoffs tipped off in thrilling fashion with the lowest three seeds UBC Carefuel Güssing, BSC Raiffeisen Fürstenfeld Panthers and BC Vienna all stealing home-court advantage while defending champions Oberwart Gunners lost their opener at WBC Raiffeisen Wels.
Stjepan Stazic’s three-pointer with two seconds left gave Vienna a 77-76 game one win yesterday against top seeded regular season champions and 2011 finalists Allianz Swans Gmunden, who failed to hold a 14-point lead with 12 minutes to play.
Stazic led the scoring with 25 points as all five Vienna starters played the entire 40 minutes. Bryant Matthews had 18 points, Jean Francois scored 15 and Denis Toroman had 11 as the no. 8 seed were missing Markus Carr and Marko Durkovic.
“Hats off to the unbelievable performance of our five soldiers! Congratulations to each of them and our first playoff game ended in a fantastic manner,” said Vienna general manager Petar Stazic-Strbac.
“First we were beat up physically and then from outside by Stazic. When you give up a 14-point lead in the final 12 minutes in your own gym then you don’t need to even think about the semifinals,” Swans manager Harald Stelzer commented.
Swans, who were playing without Enis Murati and Richard Poiger, were led by 20 points and 11 rebounds from Morris Curry while Robert Arnold had 13 points.
Gmunden can even the best-of-five series on Thursday in Game Two at home.
Easter Sunday saw the first two surprises as seven seed Fürstenfeld knocked off no. 2 Xion Dukes Klosterneuberg, 74-64, with Jeffrey Robinson pouring in 30 points while Anthony Shavies collected six points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists and four steals.
Klosterneuberg led by as many as nine points in the first half and six points in the third quarter. The hosts trailed only 64-62 with less than three minutes left but Robinson nailed a three-ball for Fürstenfeld and Klosterneuberg committed a number of turnovers down the stretch.
“The team wanted to do so much today so the first quarter [18-10 lead for Klosterneuberg] was kind of like a blockade,” explained Panthers head coach Gerald Vogler. “But actually we were the better team over the entire game.”
“Fürstenfeld took over the game after a few minutes and instead of holding our own we took a step back. And because of that we produced 26 turnovers – a season high for us. And of course you cannot win a game like that,” said Dukes general manager Roman Leydolf.
Curtis Bobb scored 16 points and had eight rebounds in the loss, from which the Dukes hope to rebound in Game Two on Thursday.
The other Easter upset was Güssing beating third-seeded ECE Bulls Kapfenberg 86-80 in their first-ever playoff appearance. Aleksandar Djuric scored 19 points and 20-year-old Thomas Klepeisz added 16 points and eight assists as Güssing fought back from a 64-57 deficit to get within 67-66 after three quarters.
Larry Gordon nailed his second triple of the fourth quarter for a 78-77 Kapfenberg lead with just more than two minutes remaining. But Sebastian Koch answered with a three-ball of his own, followed by two baskets by Djuric and a Koch dunk to complete a 9-0 run and ice the game.
“You can’t start any better in the playoffs than we did. I am very proud of the guys. We are looking forward to the next game. The pressure will be even bigger on Kapfenberg,” said Güssing head coach Robert Langer, whose team went 0-4 against Kapfenberg during the regular season.
“Güssing deserved to win. They did everything correctly. We unfortunately didn’t have enough players in the necessary form to win such an intensive game,” said Bulls coach Ante Perica, who got 21 points, 7 rebounds and 16 assists from Jeremy Fears and 21 points from Demetrius Nelson.
Game Two for Kapfenberg and Güssing is also Thursday.
The only home team to hold court on Sunday was Wels, who beat 2011 champions Oberwart Gunners, 78-64, as all five starters scored in double figures. Davor Lamesic had 19 points while Joe Werner had 16 points and 13 rebounds and Ali Farokhmanesh hit for 16 points. Quentin Pryor, who returned to the starting lineup, had 13 points, and Todd Brown added 12 points for Wels.
Vernard Hollins scored 17 points and Jason Johnson had 12 for Gunners, who were out-rebounded 39-27 and made just 3-of-19 (16 percent) from long range.
“We were able to implement our game plan and the difference was that we made the big points. Starting the series strong was very important,” said Wels head coach Pete Miller.
“Even though we played well on defense, they hit the important shots. On the other hand, we missed way too many open shots,” added Gunners head coach Neno Asceric, whose team has a second chance in Game Two on Wednesday.
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.