Sears leads MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg to Final Four with Leg 2 win in Bayreuth
OBERFRANKENHALLE (Basketball Champions League) - MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg became the first German team to book a spot in the Basketball Champions League Final Four with a 89-77 win over medi Bayreuth, for a 170-163 aggregate victory.
Justin Sears came alive in the fourth, scoring 13 of his 15 points, as Ludwigsburg overturned a 5-point deficit from Leg 1, taking control of the game in the fourth quarter as they neutralised Gabe York, holding him to 2-for-9 shooting and 10 points below his season average.
Kerron Johnson had 16 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists for Ludwigsburg, with Elgin Cook and Adika Peter-McNeilly adding 12-a-piece, as Ludwigsburg shot 50% from the floor.
"I thought we did an unbelievable job of fighting," Thomas Walkup said. "Coming in here down five is a tough obstacle against a good team, I thought we did an unbelievable job fighting, clawing, doing everything we could, loose balls, guys stepping up at the end, making gutsy plays, gutsy shots, it's a very good feeling coming out of here with a win."
Ludwigsburg Head Coach John Patrick commented:
"Compliments to Bayreuth for coming into our place beating us, maybe the pressure was on us in the first game and it could be the pressure was on Bayreuth (today). We kept fighting, we hit some big shots, got some stops in the fourth quarter and the rebounds.
"I'm proud of everybody on the team, it's very special for Adam Waleskowski especially, a guy who I've coached for six seasons and he pulled in some of the key rebounds in the fourth quarter."
medi Bayreuth were led by 19 points from James Robinson, 18 points and 8 rebounds from Assem Marei, and De'Mon Brooks, who joined them in double figures with 12.
"I think we fought hard," Marei said. "Could have taken care of the ball a little better, but all in all they had more energy than us, they came out more aggressive than us, that's why they're the third team in the BBL also. They're a great team and we fought as hard as we could."
Head Coach Raoul Korner added:
"First of all I want to congratulate Ludwigsburg for advancing to the Final Four, and wish them all the best. I'm sure they will represent our league in a very good manner.
"I also want to congratulate my team on a very good Champions League run, we came out of what was definitely the strongest group. We left teams behind us like Italian Champions Venezia, who didn't make the next round, we took care of Estudiantes, a good Spanish team, in the top 16, we eliminated one of the three big favourites in Besiktas, and today we fell short.
"We fought, we didn't play great, not good enough, Ludwigsburg were a little better today. It hurts, for us it's very disappointing as we really wanted to write another chapter of history but we had to accept Ludwidgsburg were the better team and deserved to advance."
medi Bayreuth were in control up 16-8 early, before the visitors finished the period on a 12-4 run with Sears scoring inside in the dying seconds to tie it up at 20 after the first period.
A Walkup lay up to put Ludwigsburg up 31-24 gave them their first aggregate lead in the second period, quickly followed by a Johnson hoop to punctuate a 13-4 start to the second period, but they would not maintain the lead, holding just a 43-42 advantage at halftime.
An Evans wide open corner three, then saw a Peter-McNeilly steal on the inbounds give Ludwigsburg a 59-51 cushion heading into the final minutes of the third, putting them back up on aggregate with 2:40 to play.
After some beautiful inbounds execution, Bayreuth's Wachalski converted a three-point play to pull the home side to 62-60, before an Evans triple at the third quarter buzzer was ruled as being released after time expired.
In the fourth, Sears got going; six in a row from him gave Ludwigsburg an 11-point lead, their largest of game with a little over four minutes left and from there they left no doubts about who would be advancing.
Ludwigsburg join AS Monaco, UCAM Murcia and AEK in the Final Four, and will await the Final Four draw to find out their opponents.