Brose Baskets took a 1-0 lead in their best-of-five semifinals German Beko BBL playoffs with a dominating 103-70 victory over Artland Dragons. But the two-time reigning champions saw prized center Tibor Pleiß go down with a knee injury and are waiting to learn the extent of the injury.
PJ Tucker collected 21 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals to lead seven players in double figures as Bamberg shot 55 percent for the game and committed only eight turnovers.
“We are happy to be leading 1-0. I’m happy that we played really well over long stretches of the game … As opposed to the Bonn series, we did a good job today answering the runs of the opponents. … But I think the guys have worked hard since then,” said Bamberg coach Chris Fleming.
The injury incident happened early in the fourth quarter as Pleiß went up for a rebound with Artland big man Anthony King and teammate PJ Tucker and the 22-year-old landed awkwardly and twisted his right knee. Pleiß had to be helped off the court.
An MRI is planned for Monday.
“We are positive. But we won’t know until after the MRI,” said Fleming at the post-game press conference about the Pleiß injury.
Pleiß, who is expected to be heading to the U.S. next season to play for the Oklahoma City Thunder, has had an excellent season and been a strong force in the playoffs, averaging 10.3 points and 9.0 rebounds in Bamberg’s first round playoff series against Bonn.
Artland Dragons were playing their third game in the last 92 hours.
“We would make things too easy if we used that as an excuse,” said Dragons head coach Stefan Koch about opening the semis on Saturday despite finishing the quarterfinals on Thursday.
“It is how it is. It’s not exactly favorable for us, but we can’t make a big deal out of it. And it would lessen the performance of Bamberg and how they deserved this win.”
Game Two is Tuesday at the Artland Dragons.
In the other semifinal, Per Günther scored 16 points and Steven Esterkamp added 15 points and 8 rebounds as ratiopharm ulm jumped ahead of s.Oliver Baskets 1-0 with a 77-65 home victory in Game One.
Würzburg, who received 22 points from Chris Kramer, shot only 37 percent from the floor and were out-rebounded 44-33 by Ulm.
Game Two is Thursday in Würzburg.