Ludwigsburg - John Bryant scored 23 points including 10 in the deciding 4th quarter to lead the International team to an 89-84 victory in the Beko BBL All Star Game. Bryant's performance earned him Most Valuable Player honors and keeps the National team winless in the history of the mid-season exhibition.
The National team comprised of German players have never won the All Star Game when matched up against the international stars of the Basketball Bundesliga. The start of this game had the look that this year would be different. Brose Baskets' Tibor Pleiss and FC Bayern Munich's Robin Benzing scored 7 and 6 points respectively in the 1st quarter as the Nationals jumped out to a 26-15 lead.
The International team made a small run at the beginning of the 2nd quarter thanks to P.J. Tucker's quick baskets, Pleiss' teammate at Bamberg. But Trier's Maik Zirbes scored three buckets during a run to build the lead back up and take 46-39 lead into the half.
Pleiss continued to score after the break and his three-point play built up the National's biggest lead of the second half of 12 points at 55-43. The Internationals were staying in the game but could not get closer and going into the final quarter, it seemed the 66-55 lead would hold for an historic victory.
"The game started with them coming to play to win," admitted Brose head coach Chris Fleming who coached the Internationals. "They put in more energy and they deserved to be in the lead."
The final quarter would be a completely different story. Oldenburg's Bobby Brown sparked the deciding run, opening the 4th quarter with a three-pointer. Play time was over.
The Internationals proceed to go on an 18-6 run to take their first lead of the game 73-72 with a little over six minutes left. From that point, both teams exchanged a flurry of baskets and the lead exchanged hands eight more times. Until Tucker scored the final two buckets, including an alley-oop slam, to finish off the Nationals.
"In the end we wanted to win," said Fleming about his team's comeback. "We got a couple of stops and it was important to play with the tempo that we wanted."
"They came out and played hard and they surprised us by going up big
at halftime," said ratiopharm ulm's Bryant, who also grabbed 9 rebounds. "We fought our way back one possession at a time."
Tucker finished with 14 points. Bayern's Chevon Troutman added 15 points and 9 rebounds. The Internationals were led by Heiko Schaffartzik's 15 points and 7 assists. Pleiss and Maik both contributed 14 points each and almost led the Germans to their first ever victory in the series.
Despite the one-sided series, the league was satisfied with the turnout and the overall outcome of the mid-season event. "I am extremely happy," stated Beko BBL CEO Jan Pommer. "We did a great job with the mixture of entertainment and competition. I was afraid the game would be boring but it turned out to be an interesting game. It was a day to celebrate."
All Star Day 2012 Highlights
NBBL All Star Game - Bayern's Bogdan Radosavljevic scored 12 points and grabbed 7 rebounds to lead the South Team to a 58-51 come from behind win over the North in the Future's Game. The NBBL is the junior league of the Basketball Bundesliga.
"I know all the guys and we love to play against each other," said Radosavljevic regarding the competition amongst the players. "It's a great experience, we had fun."
"We wanted to win the game," added winning coach Frank Müller. "We told the guys to play a little defense in the second half and we will win the game."
Basket-College Rhein-Neckar's Paul Zipser also scored 12 points, grabbed 3 rebounds and blocked 2 shots to earn MVP honors.
Three-Point Contest - Home crowd favorite Donatas Zavackas nailed the last money ball to win the long-range shootout with 17 points in the final round. The Lituanian plays for EnBW Ludwigsburg.
Slam Dunk Contest - Amateur Salu Benjamin Tadi used young basketball fans as props, jumping over them to slam home spectacular dunks to win the dunk contest. The 22-year-old is not even six feet tall but skied over the entire field.
The competition included a dunk by Tony Gaffney of the Telekom Baskets Bonn that had him catch a ball that was thrown from the stands but Tadi's athleticism was too much to overcome.
BBL All Star History
Internationals have won all the matchups vs. Nationals*
1996 165-163 (OT)
*2009 - 2011 game info not available