Germany: First blood for Bayern between Bundesliga big guns

The first round of Basketball Bundesliga in Germany pitted the league’s two Euroleague participants against each other in the Audi Dome and it was FC Bayern who came out on top 84-74 over Brose Baskets Bamberg.

It’s that time of the year where every game is begging to be over-analysed and the Bundesliga served up the perfect match-up for such a purpose. FC Bayern, whose hype has only grown over the summer with their admittance to Euroleague, struck first blood over reigning Bundesliga champions Brose Baskets Bamberg with a 10 point win in Munich’s Audi Dome.

The home side took the lead from the off against Bamberg, moving to a 9 point advantage by the break, but the reigning champions were back on level terms as the game entered the final frame. Chevon Troutman and Nihad Djedovic came up big for the home side with 14 points each as they pushed for the finish down the stretch. Casey Jacobsen’s 17 point contribution wasn’t enough to take the W for Bamberg. Bayern win to move to 2-0. Please remember, it’s very early in the season.

Artland Dragons overcame an ugly day from the field to sneak a 67-66 win over Alba Berlin. The Dragons managed to shoot just 36.5 per cent compared to a more palatable 41.3 from Berlin but it was success from deep and on the board that pushed the home side over the line. Anthony King was in fine from with 15 points and 11 boards in a game-leading display for Artland Dragons.

EWE Baskets Oldenburg didn’t let the sting of their exit from the Euroleague Qualifiers affect them back in domestic action. Oldenburg eased to a 72-63 win at Skyliners Frankfurt, getting back on track after falling at the second hurdle in Vilnius. Ricky Paulding hit four three-pointers en route to 18 points for Oldenburg with Nemanja Aleksandrov providing ample support with 11 points.

Due to their participation in Vilnius, this was Oldenburg’s first game of the season and they are one of six teams with perfect records at this early point. In addition to Bayern and Dragons, Phantoms Braunschweig, Ludwigsburg, and Phoenix Hagen all moved to 2-0 to start the 2013-14 season. The number of perfect records will go down by at least one on Wednesday as Ludwigsburg host FC Bayern in the mid-week round of games. Bamberg are also in action on Wednesday as they host 0-2 Tubringen. Alba will have to wait until Saturday to try and pick up their first win of the year when they host Ludwigsburg at the O2.


No (Ost)End to the drama at Euroleague Qualifiers

Lietuvos Rytas and BC Telenet Ostend secured their places in the Euroleague qualifying round final with victories today. The home side rode a monster day from Martynas Gecevicius to their win over EWE Oldenburg while Ostend delivered a heap of drama before finally edging Banvit Bandirma 82-80.

Ostend did everything in their power to undo the good work they put in at the start of the fourth quarter but still found a way to beat Banvit. The Belgian champions were involved in a tit-for-tat contest through three quarters in Thursday’s second semi-final but appeared to have made a break for home when they moved into a 79-71 lead on the back of some impressive three-point shooting. Banvit, who made their own share of poor decisions in the final frame, found a way to get back and kept pushing it into a one-possession situation. Ryan Thompson led Ostend in scoring with 19 points while Andrija Stipanovic grabbed 9 boards and Niels Marnegrave had 5 assists.

Context is really important here. Ostend arrived in Vilnius following defeat in the Belgian Supercup and head coach Josip Gjergja had pleaded with fans for patience. Then they ride into Lithuania and take out the pre-tournament favourites Khimki Moscow Region in the first round and have now followed it up by booking a place in the final. That surely makes this tournament a success but those two wins will be for nothing if they miss out on Friday.

The challenge ahead of them is big. Lietuvos Rytas won Thursday’s first semi-final 99-87 over EWE Baskets Oldenburg. The Germans kept in touch through the first three quarters, thanks in large part to Chris Kramer’s 24 points and 4 rebounds but there was no stopping Gecevicius for the home team. Gecevicius had 34 points 4 rebounds and 2 assists and was ably assisted by Omar Cook (14 points, 3 assists) and Juan Palacios (10 points, 5 rebounds). In the final frame it was the strength in depth of the Vilnius team that proved telling as they had the options to double their 6-point advantage down the stretch and send Oldenburg to EuroCup.

Friday’s final will see the home side as big favourites and they know the price of failure is steep. Lose at home and it’s off to EuroCup. All of the pressure and expectation is on Dirk Bauermann’s charges. That will play nicely into Ostend’s hands who will surely relish a third straight game as underdogs. Only one team can make the main draw. In 24 hours, we’ll know the 24th and final team in Euroleague for 2013-14.


Euroleague: Preview – Lietuvos Rytas vs EWE Oldenburg and Banvit Bandirma vs Telenet BC

Things are really beginning to heat up in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Qualifying Rounds as each team fights for a place in next season’s Euroleague. Tuesday saw Lithuanian side Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius defeat a resilient VEF Riga side 80-71 in Siemens Arena. They will be hosting German side EWE Baskets Oldenburg, who edged Cimberio Varese 74-79 in a tight match.

Both sides will be eager to return to the Euroleague. Rytas will want to make up for last year’s finish when it missed out on the top 16 while Oldenburg last taste of the top league was back during the 09-10 season.

Both teams will hope to continue on the momentum from their first game. Rytas will take encouragement from a strong team performance, despite needing a late triple from Omar Cook to secure the win. Cook accumulated 7 points and 7 assists throughout the match but it was Juan Palacios who was the most prolific, collecting 10 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists, while Martynas Gecevicius bagged 11 points and 8 rebounds.

EWE Baskets on the other hand had a tight finish as the two sides tied 70-70 with two minutes to go. Julis Jenkins netted 18 points off the bench while Chris Kramer’s contribution was critical, proving 15 points 5 rebouns and 5 assists throughout the game.

Wednesday night’s games were just as eventful as Banvit Bandirma saw off CEZ Basketball Nymburk 78 – 87. Keith Simmons spearheaded the Banvit attack as he scored 3 three pointers while E.J. Rowland provided 13 assists to help secure the win.

But the greatest shock came courtesy of Telenet BC, who defeated Khimki Moscow Region 79 – 90. Having been tied at 64 – 64 with a little over seven minutes left, Telenet secured the win thanks to Pierre-Antoine Gillet who scored 5 three-pointers, finishing with 16 points, while Ryan Thompson scored 19 points.

Having never been in the Euroleague before, Banvit will hope that there won’t be another shock when the two sides meet. Telenet BC, however, will be eyeing a return to Euroleague after a ten-year absence.

The sides who are unsuccessful in Thursday’s encounter will be entered in the draw for EuroCup in the last line. The draw will take place on Friday.

- Quinton O’Reilly


Euroleague: EWE Baskets Oldenburg beat Cimbirio Varese 79-74

It went down to the final minute but EWE Baskets Oldenburg came back to book their place in the Euroleague Qualifying Round semi-final with victory over Cimbirio Varese.

If you only tuned in during the first half, you’d have been forgiven for thinking this game didn’t matter. Tight as the play was, the first qualifying round match between Oldenburg and Varese looked far from a win or no Euroleague game. Play was back and forth, reasonably competitive, but rather lacking in intensity. All that changed after the break.

Varese, who ruled European basketball in the 1970s, sure loved to go from deep but Oldenburg’s more consistent play got them back into the game in the third frame. Once the Bundesliga runners up got back on level terms, it was tit for tat until the final two minutes. Oldenburg finally pushed into a two-possession lead late and Varese’s game wasn’t built to claw it back. The Germans hold on and are battle tested but they’ll need to step up a notch to win two more games in Vilnius.


All eyes on Bobby Brown going into Montepaschi Siena-BC Khimki match

“In the future, everyone will be famous for one news-cycle” — that’s how BallinEurope would update Andy Warhol’s well-worn line for the 21st century. Until the story’s been beaten to death (and the public consciousness’ short-term fascination ends) on Friday, everyone gets a turn in the media spotlight: Honey Boo Boo, McKayla Maroney’s face, UFO landing strips in China … the list goes on.

Bobby Brown has enjoyed a nice run this week in his alloted personal media cycle to culminate in his surprising Montepaschi Siena’s game against sharp-looking BC Khimki Moscow Region tonight. Brown went viral thanks his record-tying 41-point teeing off last week against Fenerbahce Ulker, ironically the team for whom Brown’s predecessor Bo McCalebb eschewed Siena. Speculation snowballed until millions of Americans who’d forgotten the NBA journeyman of 2008-10 rediscovered the Cal State Fullerton product thanks to a piece from Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, who recalled the days of 19th-century sports journalism in referring to the “Euro League”.

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Bundesliga roundup: Bamberg show Berlin who’s boss, Artland-Bayern playoff set

From the land of Dirks Nowitzki and Bauermann – David Hein reports on a few happenings in Germany’s top division of basketball as the league gets set to close the regular season and start the playoffs. Read on to find out about Brose Baskets Bamberg laying down the law against Alba Berlin, the Artland Dragons-Bayern München playoff showdown, and how things are suddenly up in the air for the Fraport Skyliners.

Tucker, Pleiß lead Bamberg to big win
Brose Baskets Bamberg once again answered the bell with a knockout as the two-time reigning German Beko BBL champions knocked off Alba Berlin 100-90 in a game that was only a matter of pride for Bamberg, who had long clinched the home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

P.J. Tucker continued his incredible play for Bamberg with 24 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and one block while shooting 8-of-9 from the field, including 3-of-4 from long range. In the last five games, Tucker is averaging 22 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 0.8 blocks while shooting 61 percent overall from the field, including 45 percent from long range and 82 percent from the free throw stripe.

Tibor Pleiß had a superb game as well with 19 points, six rebounds, two assists and one block for Bamberg, who have won 22 of their last 24 games in the league and bounced back from their loss the previous weekend at Bayern Munich.

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Bundesliga wrap: Homan busted, Tucker slays Dragons, Goettingen relegated

From the land of Dirk – Nowitzki and Bauermann, that is – David Hein reports on a few happenings in Germany’s top division of basketball.

Read on to find out all about Bayern Munich fining Jared Homan for getting into a bar fight; P.J. Tucker, the Dragon slayer; Skyliners winning again; and BG Göttingen’s relegation.

Jared Homan busted in Munich, continues playing
Bayern Munich have been making headlines all season – most often for good reasons. But the biggest brand in German sports had to answer legal questions after starting center – and top scorer and rebounder – Jared Homan was temporarily detained by police for his involvement in an early morning bar fight in Munich.

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Bundesliga wrapup: Yassin Idbihi, Alba Berlin pick-and-roll Bayern, overtake Ulm; Björn Harmsen gets new Giessen contract

From the land of Dirk – Nowitzki and Bauermann, that is – David Hein reports on a few happenings in Germany’s top division of basketball. Read on to find out all about Alba Berlin and Yassin Idbihi pick-and-rolling Bayern Munich to death and overtaking ratiopharm Ulm for second place; s.Oliver Baskets Würzburg moving past Bayern Munich – for now; and LTi Giessen 46ers extending their deal with head coach Björn Harmsen.

Berlin basketball fans came out en masse over the weekend to see if their red-hot Alba Berlin could sweep the season series against the publicity magnate from the deep south Bayern Munich. And Alba did not disappoint a sold-out crowd of 14,500 at the O2 World Arena as Berlin’s bench outscored Bayern’s reserves 46-13 in a 73-52 victory. Munich had absolutely no clue how to defend the Berlin pick-and-roll as Alba back-up center Yassin Idbihi scored 15 of his team-high 17 points in the fourth quarter and Berlin won the final period 73-52.

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Bundesliga roundup: Brose Baskets streak snapped at 15; Predrag Krunic canned; Artland Dragons staggering

From the land of Dirk – Nowitzki and Bauermann, that is – David Hein reports on a few happenings in Germany’s top division of basketball. Read on to find out all about Fraport Skyliners reminding Brose Baskets of that losing feeling; EWE Baskets Oldenburg’s dismissal of former championship-winning coach Predrag Krunic; and Bayern Munich blasting past road-weary Artland Dragons, who cling to the no. 4 spot in the standings.

Mark it up as the proverbial good loss later in the season, but two-time reigning German Beko BBL champions Brose Baskets Bamberg were handed their third L of the season with Fraport Skyliners winning 76-68 at home to snap the league leaders’ 15-game winning streak.

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Bundesliga roundup: Dirk Bauermann calls head doctor for Bayern Munchen; playoff squeeze tightens; budget woes of Eisbaren Bremerhaven

From the land of Dirk – Nowitzki and Bauermann, that is – David Hein reports on a few happenings in Germany’s top division of basketball. Read on to find out about Bayern Munich considering shrinks; an ever more cluttered playoff picture; the completion of the Top Four German Cup field; and Bremerhaven watching more and more teams pass them.

Hey Doc, We have a problem!
Despite times call for desperate measures, and the bosses at Bayern Munich are considering sending their players to a shrink to figure out how to win on the road. Bayern lost 68-49 to Fraport Skyliners on Saturday, dropping their ninth straight road game in the league (1-10 on the road in the BBL this season) and 13th overall away from home.

With his team owning a 11-1 record at home in the Audi Dome for a 12-11 overall mark, Bayern coach Dirk Bauermann sees the problem clearing in his players’ heads and admitted after the loss in Frankfurt that he has toyed with the thought of bringing in a psychologist for some time.

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