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23.02.2022

NLB Spielbericht von 20.02.2022

ZÜRICH - GC Basketball welcomed back its fans by hitting nine three-point shots, including five in the third quarter to get back in the game, and taking control with 26" left in overtime to defeat Morges, 78-77, for its seventh straight home win. Undefeated at home, the Zurich Wildcats are one win away from securing home-court advantage in the play-offs and proving that it is possible to present attractive basketball with a team built primarily around players 'made in Switzerland'. 

 

GC Basketball was powered by 24 points from Nicolas Hulliger, who scored 3 of 3 from the line to put his team ahead by 1 point in the final seconds of the game. Mario Gull scored 21 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists and perfected his double-double by sending his team into over-time by scoring 3-of-3 from the line with 1" left in regular time. 8 rebounds captured by Ismael Seck, with 3 steals by Andrea Maüsli and 15 points by Chris Palatsidis helped Zurich to beat the first ranked team of the LNB. The 91% (21 out of 23 attempts) from the free throw line was GC's best in a game this season.

  

GC Basketball's style is an invitation to a roller coaster adventure, said Mario Gull, the captain, when asked what makes the GC Basketball Wildcats different. In fact, GC was down by 11 points in the second quarter, having trouble reading and adapting to the Morges team's very stout defense, and in fact, GC had 8 turnovers out of their 13 turnovers in the first half of the game. The Wildcats players coming off the bench contributed to a great collective effort on defense, showing great character and self-sacrifice in the fight for rebounds that seemed to be dominated by the Red Devils at first. Coach Stiplosek decided to send on the parquet the young Ilija Krcmarevic, who as the day before with the GC under 23 team for the victory against Vacallo, confirmed that the coach can count on him in the important moments. The Wildcats entered the locker room tied 16-16 and with only 7 points below at the interval. The former big men of the Wildcats, Felix Stauch and power forward Leroy Oppliger, who due to professional obligations did not join the team this season, both agreed at the break: "it's only 7 points and if we keep fighting for rebounds, taking open shots and playing with patience, this game is ours". 

 

At the end of the third period Hulliger made a great play with a 3-pointer at the buzzer. That was the key to the comeback to the 1-point deficit. After Chris Palatsidis showed the way and put the confidence back in the hands of the shooters. From there, everything opened up. Morges' defence had to respect the Wildcats' shots, which allowed them to penetrate and create more scoring opportunities. When the shots started to come in, everybody's confidence increased and after a disturbed penetration, Mario Gull still found the way to take his own offensive rebound and pass it to Nicolas Hulliger who scored a buzzer from the corner.

 

After Morges' Red Devils jumped in advantage 55-62, four minutes into the last quarter, the GC's attack was kept alive by two very important baskets in the paint by the veteran Nico Dohnke. With 25" to play, Morges was up by one and the Wildcats needed to steal the ball or get Morges to the free throw line as fast as possible. Morges scored two very important points from the line. And with 13" to go, Mario Gull took his responsibility and launched a three-pointer with one second to go. He got fouled! Birch's bleachers were as silent as during the lock down...1-2-3 the ETHZ student tied the game and suddenly there was a celebration all over the bleachers.

 

The last 5' were a repetition of the whole game: Morges leading, GC answering, GC missing some easy baskets or producing turnovers to allow Morges an easy dunk, but as the coaching staff never despaired, the players never gave up and after Nicolas Hulliger scored the three free throws with 26" to play. Then it was like in American football, it was time for the Zürich Wildcats' defence to control the paint and deny access to the basket, which they did compactly as always behind Ulysse Bengono, who was able to celebrate his birthday with his teammates as a winning team.   

 

GC went into OT with a survivor's mentality and as in regular time, they kept coming back after each mistake with a great game and prevented Morges from building a significant lead. GC lost the first period, drew the second and won the last three. As in tennis, the 3-set win gave the fans the most heart-stopping victory this season. 

 

NEXT

GC will host Union Lavaux Riviera Basket at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 5 in Zürich Im Birch. The game will be broadcast by Swiss Basketball's NLB Network.

 

STAY TUNED

For complete coverage of GC men's basketball, follow the Wildcats on Twitter (@gczuerichbasket), Instagram (@gc.basketball) and Facebook (@ZuerichBasketball).