PS Karlsruhe Lions Roar into Finals with Victory Over Phoenix Hagen

The PSK Lions basketball players celebrate their entry into the final after their victory against Phoenix Hagen. Photo: Stefan Mazur/GES

When the final whistle sounded in the jam-packed Lina Radke Hall, there was no stopping it. The “lion’s cage” exploded. Of course, the hall director immediately played “Sweet Caroline”. In the stands, people clapped and swayed along to the beat.

And on the field? The tired but overjoyed basketball players of the PS Karlsruhe Lions hugged each other, some of them even looked in disbelief at the next sporting gala.

PSK Lions celebrate another convincing victory against Hagen

After all, they had achieved something great just a few moments before – reaching the finals of the Second Basketball Bundesliga. The greatest success in the club’s history.

The Lions beat Phoenix Hagen 93:72 (51:38) in the fourth game of the semi-final series and booked their ticket to the final with their third win in the best-of-five series.

It is still uncertain who will be waiting for the Lions there. In the second semi-final, the Gladiators Trier are leading the Fraport Skyliners from Frankfurt 2:1. Game four will take place on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

The hall will burn.

Julian Albus

Lions captain on the home game in the final

“We had an easier time against Frankfurt in the round,” said point guard Garai Zeeb. “But the games against both teams were always close. We’re going into the final with confidence.”

This will consist of a home and away game. Game one will take place in Karlsruhe next Friday. “The hall will be on fire,” said captain Julian Albus.

Co-coach Aleksandar Nadfeji kicks off the party with confetti bombs

Then assistant coach Aleksandar Nađfeji kicked off the party on the court with golden confetti bombs. Dominick von Waaden served his teammates beer in blue paper cups and point guard O’Showen Williams beamed with a cigar in his mouth.

And head coach Aleksandar Scepanovic? He watched the action from the sidelines with relish, with his son Patrick on his shoulder.

It feels incredible. I’m so proud of the boys.

Dominick of Waaden

Small Forward der PSK Lions

Albus grabbed the microphone, thanked the fans for their “amazing” support – and also took it to task. With the experts.

“Before the season, the experts predicted that we would be the number one team to be relegated. During the year, nobody had us on their radar, we had a lot of injuries. We went into the series against Gießen as underdogs, and into this one against Hagen as well. Now we’ve booked our ticket to the final. Where are the experts now?” Albus shouted into the microphone.

In sporting terms, the PSK Lions would have achieved promotion to the BBL

“It feels incredible. I’m so proud of the boys,” said von Waaden, who provided plenty of energy and points coming off the bench in the third quarter. “Now there’s only one goal: to win the title.”

In sporting terms, the Lions would have qualified for the Basketball Bundesliga by reaching the final. However, the BBL league association rejected the Lions’ license application because the Karlsruhe team could not manage the minimum budget of 3.5 million euros.

Bakary Dibba opens game with a thunderous dunk

“Sure, we would all have liked to get promoted, but it didn’t work out. We don’t want to know anything more about this stupid license. We now have the chance to play for a title,” said Albus.

And Albus and Co then showed that this is incentive enough on the court. From the very first second. After the 100:67 landslide victory on Tuesday in Hagen, things got off to a bang on Thursday evening in the sold-out Lina Radke Hall – with a dunk by Bakary Dibba.

The Lions – like the lions’ cage – were immediately on fire, with five quick points from Albus giving them a 10:3 lead after two minutes – and also at Hagen’s first timeout. Phoenix coach Chris Harris was already visibly fed up.

But the timeout fizzled out. The “Karlsrudel” continued to turn things up, Williams skillfully orchestrated the offense, Victor Bailey consistently attacked the basket and Dibba, Dominick von Waaden and Williams made sure of a shower of three-pointers.

This was also reflected on the scoreboard: The score was 33:12 at the first quarter break. Hagen appeared completely out of sorts on defense, and the Lions had an easy time scoring points.

Williams the sole entertainer in the Lions offense in the second quarter

In the second quarter, the guests fought their way back into the game – the offensive shots started to fall. And the Lions’ basket suddenly seemed to be nailed shut. Even an open three-pointer from Dibba only hit the rim.

So Hagen was suddenly back in the game thanks to a successful long-range shot by Bjarne Kraushaar – and the Lions’ lead was now only single digits (39:31; 16th minute). This was also because Hagen earned many points at the free throw line. The “lions’ cage” now cooled down a little, and Coach Scepanovic took a time-out.

And with success: Williams responded promptly with a three-pointer through the net. And followed it up with another one straight away. And then a layup. The point guard now shouldered the Lions’ offense almost single-handedly. He got support from Jason Ani shortly before halftime: With the siren sounding, the shooting guard made a three-pointer to make it 51:38 at halftime.

Stenogram of the PSK Lions

Williams 15 points/3 threes, von Waaden 14/4, Dibba 13/2, Bailey 13/1, Jostmann 11/1, Dent 9/1, Tunstall 7/1, Albus 5/1, Ani 3/1, Kiselovs 3/1

At halftime, Williams had already scored eleven points, followed by Dibba with ten. For Hagen, Kraushaar (ten) and Nazihar Bohannon (eight) were accurate. The Lions made 51 percent of their shots from the field (19/37), while the guests were convincing at the free throw line (16/20).

The Lions once again took the lead in the third quarter. First, von Waaden sank a three-pointer, then Williams added a layup – for a 61:43 lead midway through the quarter.

Two three-pointers from von Waaden and Lachlan Dent gave them a 71:54 lead after 30 minutes. The Lina Radke Hall was shaking. The finals were becoming more and more clear.

Von Waaden in particular was unstoppable, working like crazy at both ends of the court – and had a really hot hand from a distance, sinking a total of four three-pointers.

Dennis Tunstall hammered the next long-range shot through the net at the start of the fourth quarter. It was the deciding factor. The rest was a party that lasted almost ten minutes – in the stands and on the field.

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2024-05-23 22:03:39
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