Düsseldorf Second division basketball team ART Giants wins the first match of the play-off semifinal against Orange Academy Ulm by 82:67. Düsseldorf leads 1-0 in the series. Now only one victory is missing before promotion to ProA.
The dream is within reach: In front of more than 500 spectators, the ART Giants basketball team won 82:67 (37:35) over Orange Academy Ulm and took a 1-0 lead in the playoff semifinals of the 2nd Bundesliga Pro B. Already on Friday, the Düsseldorfers can complete the promotion to the 2nd Bundesliga Pro A with a victory in Ulm.
Coach Florian Flabb obviously did not want to accept premature congratulations. “This victory was extremely important to us. Now comes the next big challenge in Ulm,” he stressed. In the end, it was a resounding success. Only in the opening minutes did Ulm lead. Baskets Münster out of the race in the quarterfinals, appeared confident and made it clear with two thumps that they would also tear something here in Düsseldorf.
After a couple of small ball losses in the attack, the hosts got hold of themselves, captain Andrius Mikutis marked the first points after just under three minutes. Along with Booker Coplin (nine points in the first quarter), he gave the team a 12-8 lead. Again and again the giants found the holes in the opponents defense, in their own defense they managed to win several balls.
In the second quarter, Samuel Mpacko was “on fire”. First of all, the defender provided the first double-digit lead (23:13) with a throw from distance, Mikutis followed up from long range. Mpacko also converted his next throws, thanks to these three long-range hits he put his team in the lead 35:27. However, due to a bit of negligence on the part of the Giants (a total of ten turnovers during the break), the visitors came close, with a thump just before the break, they set another example.
“Ulmeren acted with incredible intensity and forced us to make a few mistakes in the first minutes. But the defensive stability gave us a good basic feeling for our attacking play. Andrius Mikutis and Samuel Mpacko gave us security with their long-range goals in important phases,” summed up Flabb.
It was the same after the page break. Mikutis (11) and Coplin (6) dominated, and center player Lennart Boner also made several deals. Just like in a quick break, Mikutis served Boner from the corner, who caught the ball in the air and finished with a crashing thump. The audience, who provided a good atmosphere and loudly supported his team, were thrilled. At the end of the third quarter, the home team looked to be in the lead with 62:47.
But Ulmer would not give up so early. With a distance shot – otherwise they were harmless from the series of three, only two of 18 attempts succeeded – they began their race to catch up and now played more courageously offensively. In fact, in the 36th minute, Oberkasseler was only 68:63 ahead. But they were able to trust their defense again. They forced the opponent to throw threes and also no longer allowed offensive rebounds. In front, Mikutis closed the bag with a three, as did top scorer Coplin, Mark Gebhardt (three free throws) and Quadre Lollis (2).
Now the ART Giants are missing just one victory to celebrate historic success. If it does not succeed in Ulm on Friday, they will have home rights in a crucial third match on Sunday as the better placed team of their season (Düsseldorf was third in the north, Ulm fourth in the south).