GMUNDEN. When Gmunden shows its contemplative, perhaps melancholic, quiet side on Wednesday, in keeping with the occasion (All Saints’ Day), then the Raiffeisen sports park above Lake Traunsee provides the contrast. From 5.30 p.m. it’s basketball derby time – and as we all know, it’s a tough one.
167 days after the all-important fifth play-off semi-final, which the OCS Swans won 100:81 in front of a sold-out house (1,600 spectators), the 110th Upper Austria local duel takes place against the Raiffeisen Flyers Wels, who are looking for revenge. The chances of the people from Messestadt, who are clearly behind in the all-time record with 30:79 victories, are intact this time, especially since the champions from Gmunden are licking their wounds twice.
The sting of the Cup round of 16 exit in Kapfenberg is in the bones of the dethroned defending champion, and the loss of national player Toni Blazan, who injured his shoulder (he won’t be fit for two weeks at the earliest), is also extremely painful.
“We’re missing an important man, the short bench is already making itself felt. We can’t allow ourselves to make so many mistakes in defense,” says Swans captain Daniel Friedrich, who had an incredible performance with his career in the most recent duel with the Welsers -High of 33 points delivered. When the 31-year-old gets rolling, (almost) nobody can stop him.
Welser haven’t been free from personnel concerns lately either, Ar-vydas Gydra should perhaps be ready for his comeback tomorrow. The Lithuanians were easily spared in the cup, and the Flyers drew confidence from the 88:63 win over the Vienna Timberwolves. That was the right reaction to the 61:92 rebuff at BC Vienna the week before. “If we act as a unit, implement our plan, defend aggressively and hit the open shots, we can expect something,” says Flyers power forward Renato Poljak, for whom it will be the first Upper Austria derby.
It’s not just him: it’s also a first for Trey Moses, Patrick Emilien, Orri Gunnarsson and Jakob Lohr on the Gmundner side, with the Welsers “rebound king” Chris Ferguson, Paul Isbetcherian and Radii Caisin breaking new ground. But they know from hearsay how explosive this encounter is. It’s about number one in the country – at least until next time.
From the perspective of Flyers coach Sebastian Waser, this derby is one of the best that Austrian basketball has to offer. This is not only due to the level and intensity, but also to the enthusiastic supporter base that both clubs know how to mobilize. Gmunden’s finance director Harald Stelzer expects more than 1,000 fans. He doesn’t want to talk about a mandatory win: “We’re definitely not favorites.”
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