Bakken Bears survive overtime drama in Le Portel, book ticket to Semis
LE PORTEL (FIBA Europe Cup) - Bakken Bears became the first team to book a spot in the Semi-Finals after surviving the intense Le Chaudron atmosphere in overtime and holding on to their first-leg advantage to continue the Danish fairytale in the FIBA Europe Cup.
Despite suffering an 86-80 defeat against ESSM Le Portel after 45 minutes of action on the night, the Steffen Wich-coached side from Aarhus won the Quarter-Finals tie 156-148 victory on aggregate.
Turning Point: Having been in the red zone for most of the second half, the Danish champions scrambled together a late comeback to force overtime with a big bucket by DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell with mere seconds remaining. That was when the tide turned, with Bakken Bears starting the extra period with an 8-0 run thanks to a pair of deep three-pointers by Darko Jukic and regaining control of the tie.
Game Hero: Jukic was pretty quiet the entire game, but came up big in overtime, scoring 10 of the team's 16 points in the extra period. He finished the game with an efficient 18-point and 5-rebound contribution on 5-of-7 shooting from the field in 38 minutes of action.
Stats Don't Lie: It was another sub-par shooting night for DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell who finished the game by connecting on just 7-of-21 attempts, but he found other ways to be useful on the floor, taking on the playmaker role and dishing out a season-high 8 assists, while turning the ball only twice.
Bottom Line: Bakken Bears will find out their Semi-Final opponents on Wednesday after Sidigas Scandone Avellino and Juventus Utena settle their scores in the return leg of their tie in Italy. The first game in Lithuania finished all level at 77-all.
Bakken Bears is moving on to the semi finals in #FIBAEuropeCup with the help of previous win over ESSM le portel!!!!— Bakken Bears (@bakkenbears) March 27, 2018
They Said: "We knew we didn't have a team to win the FIBA Europe Cup. But I am proud of what we did. We were 10 seconds from te Semi-Finals with players, most of whom had never played in a European cup before." – ESSM Le Portel head coach Eric Girard
"I will not change my previous statement – the Bears threat is real. We got the luck we needed at the end. It is the third time we have won an overtime this season. The atmosphere at Le Chaudron and the arena itself is really fantastic." – Bakken Bears head coach Steffen Wich