ALBA BERLIN prevailed in a thrilling 97-89 victory over MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg to lock up first place in Group B of the German League Final Tournament.

Luke Sikma just missed a triple-double with 15 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds while Marcus Eriksson hit 5 three-pointers for 15 points for ALBA, which won all four of its games in the group phase. Rokas Giedraitis, Landry Nnoko and Peyton Siva all scored 11 points and Johannes Thiemann had 10 points for ALBA, which will take on BG Goettingen in the Quarterfinals.

Ludwigsburg finished in second place in the group with a 3-1 record despite Thomas Wimbush pouring in 30 points and Nick Weiler-Babb collecting 21 points and 11 rebounds.

With the game over, the Quarter-Finals, which start on Wednesday June 17, are now set: Berlin vs Göttingen, Fraport Skyliners vs ratiopharm Ulm; FC Bayern Munich vs Ludwigsburg and Brose Bamberg vs EWE Baskets Oldenburg.

Wimbush and Sikma both had five points in the early going with Ludwigsburg up 7-5 in the first 4 minutes but Berlin big man Nnoko picked up his second foul and was forced to the bench. Berlin also missed their first six free throws while Jonas Wohlfarth-Bottermann had 4 points and 1 block and Wimbush nailed a three-ball as Ludwigsburg built a 16-9 lead. Eriksson brought Berlin back into the game with three three-balls and an assist for Thiemann’s trey and Berlin led 24-21 after 10 minutes.

Nnoko was called for his third foul just 1 minute into the second quarter and Ludwigsburg kept Berlin scoreless for the first two minutes of the frame and went ahead 25-24. Siva, Giedraitis, Niels Giffey and Jonas Mattisseck all knocked down treys to put Berlin ahead 43-38. Wimbush answered with a personal 7-0 run and Ludwigsburg were back up 45-43 until Giedraitis’ three-point play left Berlin up 46-45 at intermission.

The third quarter was more back-and-forth with Eriksson and Kenneth Ogbe hitting treys while Weiler-Babb was unconscious with 10 points including two straight long three-balls and a 59-54 Ludwigsburg lead. Berlin started coming up with defensive stops and Mattisseck hit a trey and Thiemann and Giedraitis both converted three-point plays in a 17-4 spurt for a 71-63 cushion. The gap was 71-67 after 30 minutes.

Siva’s three early in the fourth quarter pushed the advantage to 76-69. Wimbush carried Ludwigsburg back with eight points for an 80-81 lead – only to see Sikma answer with two three-balls and Eriksson also hitting from downtown and ALBA were up 90-81 with just more than 2 minutes remaining. Wimbush made three free throws with 66 seconds remaining to cut the deficit to 92-86. Ludwigsburg fouled Sikma with 56 seconds left hoping he would continue his struggles from the line – 2-of-8 – but he drained both foul shots to secure the win.

QUOTES: Berlin’s Johannes Thiemann: “It was certainly a tough game. They fought hard. Wimbush scored 30 points. It was really hard work. We are happy in the end to have gotten the win.”
“Ludwigsburg is one of the teams to beat if you want to win the tournament. We were able to do that today but respect to the team.”
(About Sikma): “As you know him – unbelievable player. He has so much game IQ, and we are happy that we have him.”
(About Göttingen): “Göttingen is a team that you cannot underestimate. They have played well until now. It will also be hard work.”

Berlin’s Luke Sikma: “I didn’t really notice it (close to a triple-double) until later in the game. I’m just happy we won. I kind of started bad. I was missing free throws. That’s probably the thing I remember most about this game. Glad it worked out and we got the win.”
(About free throws): “I’m old now so I think I just have to get warmed up. I think that’s the problem.”
(About Göttingen): “They were playing great all year. They’re a tough team. They always play hard for 40 minutes. We lost at their place so we have maximum respect for them. I think we’re just going to try to enjoy this win tonight though and tomorrow start thinking about Göttingen.”

Ludwigsburg’s Nick Weiler-Babb: “It’s very tough. I think we had a chance to win it there in the end. They made a couple of shots and played harder than us. And they kind of looked like they wanted it a little bit more. It was a tough loss but we have to bounce back.”
(About Bayern): “We just have to get ready for that. They are another tough opponent. They have a lot of good players. We have to get ready, rest up and get ready to play again.”


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