Last second shot ruins Bayern comeback

ratiopharm arena, Ulm - Keaton Nankivil hit a three-pointer with 1.9 seconds on the clock as ratiopharm ulm defeated FC Bayern Basketball 76-75 in a Beko BBL Bavarian showdown.  Nankivil's game-winner came at the end of a pulsating game that had seven ties or lead changes in the final quarter.

After Jonathan Wallace hit a pair of free-throws seconds earlier to give Munich their final lead 75-73, Tommy Mason-Griffin made an errant inbounds pass that Chevon Troutman almost stole for Bayern.  He was able to deflect it, however Steven Michael Esterkamp recovered possession, passed it over to Nankivil who heaved the prayer from beyond the arc. (Watch the final play here.)  Bayern's final attempt at the buzzer fell short of the target and 6,000 fans packed in the arena were able to celebrate the win.

Mason-Griffin who led Ulm with 19 points described the scene during the timeout before the final shot. "Coach (Thorsten Leibenath) said we are going to win this game.  We are going to execute this play.  I tried to make a difficult pass that wasn't in what coach drew up," admitted Mason-Griffin.  "Steve (Michael Esterkamp) came up with the ball and got it to Keaton.  He hit a big time shot."

"I told Steve, with the time we have, we wanted to get a shot, that's all we were looking for," said Nankivil who finished with 12 points, all from three-point land.  "Anyone could have taken it and would have made it."

In the early going, Ulm were shooting the lights out in their new arena, hitting three-pointers from all over the court.  Esterkamp got the party started, hitting his only three shots to give the home side an early 11 point lead 15-4 in the first quarter.  He may have disappeared till the final play, but his teammates did not.  Nankivil hit his first trey at the end of quarter and Ulm led 23-16.

Munich started ice cold, only hitting 7 of their first 20 shots, but were able to keep close in the first half thanks to Wallace's 11 points and Jared Homan's 12 points.  However, each time Bayern came close, Ulm had an answer.  Isaiah Swann drill two 3-pointers at the beginning of the second quarter, Nankivil's trey gave the home side their biggest lead of 13 points at 34-21, and they went into halftime up 44-34.

Straight out of the break, Bayern went on a run to get the game to 46-43, but then Mason-Griffin took over.  He went on a personal 8-0 run to extend the lead, outscoring everyone during the next two minutes.  And he finished off his explosive quarter by nailing another three-pointer, Ulm led 62-54.  But before the end of the third quarter, Munich's captain Steffen Hamann hit a trey.

Bayern continued their mini-run as Aleksandar Nadjfeji started off the fourth quarter with a dunk and Wallace hit a shot from downtown.  And just like that, the game was tied at 62 with 8:23 left.

Jared Homan was solid in the paint keeping Bayern close.  Photo: Sperduto/TMT Sports
Jared Homan was solid in the paint keeping Bayern close. Photo: Sperduto/TMT Sports
Minutes later, an impressive block by Homan started a break and former Ulmer Robin Benzing hit a three-pointer, giving Bayern their first lead since going up 2-0 seconds into the game.  The visitors had temporarily taken the air out of the new arena, leading 67-65 with 6:08 left.

"They came back, they made a run and started making shots," said Mason-Griffin.  "We didn't execute like we did at the beginning and that's how they got back in the game."

Ulm would not back down, not with their three-point capabilities.  Per G√ľnther and Roderick Trice answered with long-range shots, and the momentum swung back to the hosts, 71-67 with 4:17 left.  The arena was now jumping, sensing the end of Bayern and a home win.  Normally, that would be the end for a road team, but this derby was not over.

Wallace would hit a three to tie it, then Mason-Griffin and Wallace traded buckets for the final tie at 73-73 with :30 seconds left.  Ulm would work the clock down but Mason-Griffin would miss with :09 seconds left, and would set up Wallace's free throws and the final dramatic shot.

Ulm finished 14-for-29 from 3-point land, building the lead with the shot, holding off Bayern's runs, and finally winning with the money ball.

"They shot exceptionally well today," said Wallace who led all scorers with 26 points, shooting not so bad himself, 6-for-7 from beyond the arc.  "We just stayed with our defensive focus for the game, tried to make some plays down the stretch and hopefully pull it out at the end.  Chevy got a deflection, the guy just made a tough shot."

"We battled, we regrouped after a poor first quarter," said Bayern head coach Dirk Bauermann.  "It's unfortunate that we didn't win, I thought we deserved to win.  We have to regroup and come back strong.  And we will."

Bayern continue their road through Bavaria, traveling to Stechert Arena in Bamberg to play defending league champs Brose Baskets on Saturday.  And facing a must-win situation if they are to have a chance to play in the Beko BBL Cup.  The top six teams will play during this in-season mini-tournament.  Bayern are now 8th in the table, tied with three other teams above them in the standings at 9-7.

"Bamberg is a solid team and they are very good but no one is unbeatable and in 40 minutes, anything is possible," added Bauermann about the upcoming Bavarian derby match.

Tip-off on Saturday is at 20:05 CET and will be broadcast live on sport1.

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