All is well and good in the southern German metropolis Munich as FC Bayern finally snapped their road losing streak while Artland Dragons coach Stefan Koch was left dumbfounded with his team’s embarrassing start to the top showdown with ratiopharm Ulm. Oh, and Brose Baskets cruised to another win – by 34 points, despite giving 42 minutes of playing time to three Germans 21 years and younger.
Bayern Munich boss Dirk Bauermann was considering bringing in a sports psychologist to talk his players through their nine-game losing streak in the BBL. But Bayern finally unloaded the 5,000-pound gorilla from their back with an 82-72 victory at Phoenix Hagen – Munich’s first road win since beating BG Göttingen on October 15 – to improve their BBL road record to 2-10.
“The relief could be seen on the players. It was pretty crazy in the locker room and the mood on the bus afterwards was superb,” Bauermann told the Abendzeitung daily after the win, which improved Bayern’s record to 13-11, good for seventh place.
“The snowball had gotten so big that it almost crushed us to death. But now the losing streak is over with,” added Bauermann, whose team would have dropped out of the playoff ranks with another defeat.
“The whole thing would have gotten even crazier that it was already,” said Bayern vice president Bernd Rauch. “We were so sick of getting onto the bus as losers.”
Bayern’s next contest will be a tough one at home as Artland Dragons come to the Audi Dome, where Munich are 11-1 on the season.
While Bayern have healed their soul with the road victory, Artland coach Stefan Koch has some work to do after his team were blasted 84-73 at home against second placed ratiopharm ulm, dropping the Dragons from third to fourth in the standings.
Artland fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter and ended up trailing 28-4 after 10 minutes – the worst quarter of basketball in the club’s 8½ years in the BBL. The Dragons committed eight turnovers in the quarter and made just two of 15 shots (13 percent).
Whenever Artland would get close to cutting the margin to 10 points in the fourth quarter, Ulm’s Isaiah Swann was there for an answer with a big shot on his way to 27 points.
“We can talk about the burden that we have at the moment, but there is no excuse for our performance in the first quarter,” said Koch afterwards, referring to Artland playing midweek in a FIBA EuroChallenge game in Russia at Triumph Lyubertsy on February 21.
“We had a lot of respect before the game for Ulm and [head coach] Thorsten [Leibenath]’s work there. And the respect became even bigger after the game.”
“The story of the game is pretty easy to tell,” said Leibenath, who coached at Artland from 2008-09 to 2009-10. “We came out of the locker room and played some very good basketball. After that it was an even game with a slight advantage for the Dragons … We were able to fend off one of the top challengers for second place.”
Ulm remained in the no. 2 spot with a 19-5 record – 1.5 games ahead of Alba Berlin and now 2 games ahead of Artland.
However, Ulm are still 2.5 games behind two-time reigning champions Brose Baskets, who cruised to a 97-63 victory over LTi Giessen 46ers in avenging one of the club’s two losses this season to improve to 21-2 with their 14th straight victory.
Bamberg coach Chris Fleming noticed right away that his team would have no problem with Giessen and gave his young talents some good playing time.
With Julius Jenkins still out injured and Brian Roberts dealing with the flu, 21-year-old point guard Daniel Schmidt played a career-high 21 minutes, also collecting career highs in points (5), rebounds (4), assists (2), and steals (1) while earning the praise of his coach.
“He led the team very efficiently. I congratulate him for his big improvement,” said Fleming, who sent Schmidt onto the floor already four minutes into the second quarter.
“I think I did a good job. It was cool playing with the players you have known since you were young,” said Schmidt.
Fellow 21-year-old guard Maurice Stuckey registered season highs in minutes (10) and points (3) while center prospect Philipp Neumann, who on February 20 celebrated his 20th birthday, scored 10 points, grabbed three rebounds and blocked three shots in 11 minutes of action.
With personnel and scouts from the Oklahoma City Thunder in the building, 22-year-old Tibor Pleiß collected 16 points, seven rebounds and two assists in 26 minutes: the Thunder’s second-round draft pick’s fourth game of at least 16 points in the last six contests.
Germany-based David Hein is often (justifiably, we think) dubbed by BiE as “the hardest-working man in European sportswriting.” Aside from contributing to BallinEurope, FIBA’s official website and the Bundesliga Basketball League official website, he also writes for numerous German- and English-language outlets on sports from soccer and basketball on down. Check out far-ranging samples of his work at heinnews.com.