Photo: Brose Baskets Bamberg

A bum knee could not stop Tibor Pleiß from blocking a season-high six shots in helping Brose Baskets Bamberg beat Artland Dragons 81-71 on the road to grab a 2-0 series lead over Artland in the Beko BBL semifinal playoffs.

Pleiß missed both of his field goal attempts – including one three-pointer – but made 8 of 10 free throws for 8 points to go with 4 rebounds and the six blocked shots. The 22-year-old big man must enjoy playing Artland as his career high in blocks came against the Dragons with seven in April 2010.

“I really think Pleiß did an excellent job defensively for us,” said Bamberg coach Chris Fleming after the game.

Pleiß was a game-time decision if he would play Game Two on Tuesday after going down with a right knee injury in the fourth quarter of Game One on Saturday. The center fell awkwardly going up for a rebound and had to be helped off the court. An MRI on Monday showed no tear in the knee only an over-stretched knee capsule, according to Bamberg GM Wolfgang Heyder. Another report called it a bruised knee.

But Pleiß made the difference defensively in Game Two, with a plus-minus of 20 in 23 minutes of action. While Pleiß handled the defensive end, PJ Tucker came up big offensively with 23 points as well as 10 rebounds while Casey Jacobsen had 14 points and Brian Roberts 13.

Artland wasted a 20-point, 6-assist night from David Holston while Nathan Peavy had 11 points and 9 rebounds.

Bamberg were cruising in the first half with a 48-34 lead before Artland went on a 14-0 run to start the second half and even the game at 48-48. But Tucker stopped the run with a three-pointer and then the game changed as Holston and Anthony King were subbed out for Artland despite combining for seven points in the Artland run while Pleiß came on for the first time in the second half.

A 10-2 Bamberg run made it 61-52 and the reigning champs did not let Artland closer than three points the rest of the way as they went on a 10-0 surge early in the fourth quarter.

“The 14-0 run was good but it cost a lot of energy. If you tie a game like that, you breathe a sigh of relief first of all. And a team so mentally strong like Bamberg takes advantage of that and hits back exactly at that moment. That happened today,” said Artland coach Stefan Koch.

“We tried to take the fans out of the game, which we were able to do initially. Quakenbrück set the tone in the third quarter. It’s well known that Artland can turn up their offense. I am proud of how we reacted. The three from Tucker after the run was extremely important. We remained calm and worked very well on defense,” added Fleming.

Game Three is in Bamberg on Sunday.



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