Two-time reigning German champions Brose Baskets Bamberg once again defended their home court with a strong 89-77 victory over Bayern Munich in an emotion-packed BBL contest which had the feeling of a playoff game.

PJ Tucker tallied 23 points to lead the German BBL league leaders while Casey Jacobsen scored 18 points in helping Bamberg improve to 15-2 in the league. Anton Gavel hit for 14 points and Tibor Pleiß added 13 points off the bench for Chris Fleming’s team.

Bamberg struggled in the early going, falling behind by eight points – 14-6. But Fleming had his men turn up the defensive intensity late in the first quarter and Bayern struggled in the second quarter without injured top playmaker Je’Kel Foster and scored only nine points as Bamberg took the lead 32-29 on a Gavel three-ball and extended the advantage to 47-34 at halftime.

Bayern were able to get within eight points in the third and fourth quarters, including on Jared Homan’s basket to make it 71-63 with 3:30 remaining. But Bamberg scored seven straight points to push the lead back to 15 points.

It was eight points again with less than 1:30 left but Brian Roberts and Tucker made four of four free throws to decide the game for good.

“We picked it up defensively in the second quarter and were able to push the ball a little bit better. I wasn’t unhappy at all. You’re not going to win every game by 30 points, certainly not against a team with that quality. I think we took care of what we needed to do and in the second quarter we took control of the game,” said Fleming, whose team extended their BBL home winning streak to 34 games dating back to January 2, 2010 against Oldenburg.

“When I look at our team I think we are starting to accept our roles better. Guys know what contributions are expected of them.”

Bamberg’s last loss at home in a German league or playoff came on June 6, 2010 in Game One of the 2010 BBL Finals against the Deutsche Bank Skyliners on their way to the 2009-10 title. Last season, Bamberg did not lose a single game at home in Germany – BBL, German Cup or playoffs.

Bayern were hoping to finally hand Bamberg a home loss. But they lacked some depth to overcome Fleming’s long rotation. Steffen Hamann led Bamberg with 18 points while Homan scored 17 points.

“We tried to make life as difficult as we could for them and played even with them in stages. But in the end they had more experience and a deeper bench,” said Bayern coach Dirk Bauermann.

While the game at the sold-out Stechert Arena definitely had a playoff feeling, it also was a reunion for Bauermann and Hamann, who won two German titles with Bamberg.

“I would like to thank the nearly 7,000 fans. The welcome for the team and for me was very friendly and respectful. The atmosphere was excellent and never hostile. It was exactly how it should be for a top showdown in the BBL,” said Bauermann, who coached in Bamberg from December 2001 to 2007.

“Of course it was something very special. And it was strange sitting at the other end. But it was nice being here again. It was a great seven years. But it was a bit disappointing that we couldn’t win here.”

The Bamberg native Hamann, who played with the club from his youth days until the summer 2006 and from December 2006 to 2008, also enjoyed coming back home.

“I have said a few times it’s always awesome to come to Bamberg. My family is here and my friends and some of the fans still like me too. It’s always nice to play here but less nice to leave here with a loss,” said Hamann.

While Bamberg sit atop the standings, Bayern have struggled a bit and are eighth with a 9-8 record. Bauermann’s team has especially had its difficulties on the road, where they are just 1-7.

Despite the poor record, Munich have played strong away from home with four losses by four points or less. There were also two heart-breaking defeats in buzzer-beater defeats at Artland Dragons and Ratiopharm Ulm

“I am getting kind of sick of it,” said a frustrated Hamann.

“We always play good on the road but lose the games close. It’s always the same thing. We cannot forget who we played against today. Bamberg is a strong team which beat some top Euroleague teams. But it hurts.”

Bauermann meanwhile was proud of his team and the morale they showed coming back just three days after losing by one point on a buzzer-beating three-pointer in Ulm.

“Even though it is a defeat, I am satisfied with the performance of my team. I am very satisfied how the team showed up here after the heart-breaker in Ulm,” said Bauermann.

Bayern’s potential was not lost on Bamberg coach Fleming.

“Bayern are playing at a very high level now and when Foster comes back they will be a different team,” said Fleming.

“They’ve had some rough breaks on the road, losing some close games. It’s always tough on the team. But I think they showed a lot of character in how they came back after that heart-breaking loss in Ulm. I know that’s a team that in the end is a top four team.”

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