In mid-December, the 7DAYs EuroCup campaign of ratiopharm Ulm seemed be in danger. Sitting on a 3-5 record in its regular season group, needing to win its last two games and still get help to qualify for the Top 16, it seemed like a challenge more likely not to be met by the German side.
Three weeks later, however, Ulm is very much alive and kicking, after opening the Top 16 with a 70-63 win over a fellow German side Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt on Thursday. The victory gave Ulm a three-game winning streak as the club opened the second phase of the competition with a victory for the first time in five seasons.
Ulm's task in this game was not an easy one. Ulm and Frankfurt squared off just five days earlier in the German League game, a contest that Ulm won 82-72. It was also a game in which Ulm's starting point guard Patrick Miller finished scoreless, missing all 6 field goals, dishing 3 assists with 2 turnovers. He finished with a PIR of -2 and had -10 plus/minus rating for that night.
Fast forward to Thursday night, and seemed like Miller forgot all about one his worst performances in recent seasons.
Miller finished with 15 points and a career-high 8 assists in the 70-63 win over Skyliners, who saw six players sidelined for this contest. But that does not change the fact that Miller was the facilitators of Ulm's offense for the first three quarters, getting his teammates involved, while repeatedly hurting the Skyliners by driving and finishing close to the rim. Then, Miller scored 6 points in the fourth quarter, including a tough runner in traffic with 84 seconds to go, to make it 66-63.
Ulm did not allow another basket the rest of the game, and went on to win on a night when baskets were hard to come by. Miller's performance was that much bigger for Ulm, which was just recently sitting at the bottom of regular season Group A, and has now started as the leader of its Top 16 group.