One of the stranger nights in Eurocup history featured a scintillating battle in Bamberg, Germany that left the winners wanting more and the losers in jubilation. Brose Baskets rallied from 7 points down in the second half to register its second Group K victory, 84-81, over visiting Panellinios, but it was not a big enough margin to avoid elimination. Instead, Panellinios will go to the quarterfinals with a 3-2 record, marking the highest achievement in all its five decades worth of European competition. Panellinios and Bilbao Bizkaia Basket, now 4-1 after losing its first game all season, will play for first place next week. Brose, now 2-3, would have needed to win by 8 or more points to deny Panellinios the qualification, and pushed till the finish trying to get it. A 4-17 run in the second quarter seemed to give Panellinios charge of the game, but with Casey Jacobsen shooting like crazy, Brose stormed back ahead 74-72 entering the game's final minute. After 19 points were scored in 60 seconds, however, Panellinios had guarded its winning margin from their first game, ensuring a tie-break advantage even if both finish with 3-3 records. Jacobsen led the winners with a season-high 25 points based on 6-for-8 three-point accuracy. John Goldsberry added 13 points, Predrag Suput and Biran Roberts 12 each, and Mark Worthington 10 for Brose. Panellinios got 18 points from Rod Blakney - including some key late baskets when Brose tried to run away - as well as 15 from Ian Vougioukas, 14 from Kostas Charalampidis, 12 from Devin Smith and 10 from Chris Owens.
Vougioukas by himself helped Panellinios tie 5-5 in the early going, but a second three-pointer already by Jacobsen let Brose back in front. When Goldsberry added his own two- and three-point shot combo, the hosts were opening the gap to 13-8. Blakney got 4 of those points back quickly for Panellinios, but newcomer Worthington and Roberts kept the Brose offense churning on the way to a 17-12 lead after 10 minutes. Roberts staked the highest Brose lead at 19-12 with the first shot of the second quarter before Panellinios started climbing back with a triple by Charalampidis. That sparked a 0-7 run to a 19-19 tie. After Goldsberry's three-pointer kept Brose ahead, Charalampidis tied again, sparking a 0-8 burst that ended with Owens putting Panellinios in charge at 23-29. Charalampidis kept the visitors a step ahead while Tibor Pleiss and Suput tried to trim the difference for Brose. Smith and Djuro Ostojic answered at the end of the half, however, putting Panellinios in front by 33-38.
Smith and Vougioukas lifted the lead to 37-44 to counter 4 free throws by Suput as the second half started. Pleiss inside and Jacobsen from downtown again suddenly collapsed the differense to 42-44, whereupon the veteran Blakney showed the proper urgency for Panellinios with 5 straight points. But even when Vougioukas made it 44-51, Jacobsen reloaded and with free throws from Anton Gavel and Worthington, Brose was within 51-56 after three quarters. Jacobsen was on fire, and his next 5 points to open the fourth quarter gave him a season-high 19, putting Brose within 57-59. Vougioukas and Charalampidis briefly rescued Panellinios, but Suput at the line, Worthington inside and Goldsberry from downtown completed Brose's 10-4 surge to a 64-63 edge. Smith and Blakney tried to slow the hosts' momentum, but now Roberts and Worthington were nailing back-to-back triples for a 72-67 Brose adantage. Blakney stepped up again for the visitors, with a driving layup and a three-pointer at 74-72. When Manolis Papamakarios made free throws midway through the final minute, the guests were even closer, 75-74. That, however, is when Jacobsen delivered his final three-pointer in attempts to spark the hosts toward the eight-point victory they needed. Instead, Panellinios made enough free throws down the stretch to keep it within the limit, 84-81, this sealing its trip to the quarterfinals!
Tuesday, March 2, 2010