I went to Mannheim this year to follow the German All-Star Day for the first time. As I am not a big fan of these events, I did it especially to check out the brand new SAP Arena and also the game between the youngsters that has been played before the game of the pros.
- I arrived in Mannheim in the early afternoon, just right in time to follow the semi-finals of the Dunk contest. But the first disappointment was the seating of the press persons. On the top level of the arena in the first row, the knees directly against a wall and a glass protection just before my eyes that had a metal bar on top at the exact height of my eyes. No power connection for my laptop and of course no room to put my PC somewhere. And added to that, my wireless connection did not work, and for those where it worked, they had to pay to get it.
- Talking about the arena in general. Very nice ice hockey arena which is not really suited for basketball events in my opinion. Behind the baskets is a lot of space which has been filled with 4 rows of seats for spectators. Because of the high number of fast-food places in the arena, the smell of french fries and hamburgers was overwhelming which is not really something I like. However, the event was well visited with 9400 spectators, not bad for a non-basketball city. Besides that, you have to know that a “four-digit figure” of tickets has been sold for 9.99€ in the discount shops LIDL.
- The game between the Nord and South teams of the NBBL (U19 league) was pleasant; it was a good opportunity to see the upcoming German basketball players. What I liked was the fact that most of the fans were already in the arena when this game was played and could appreciate the future of the German basketball scene. MVP of the game became Elias Harris from Speyer. Unfortunately, the game was played with time just running down and only stopped on calls during the last 5 minutes of Q4.
- The three point contest was just behind and was won by EJ Gallup from Ulm with 14pts. Not a very high shooting percentage though, but a reason for this may be the fact that the ball were not lying on racks but in some kind of big basket where the shooters had to take them out.
- The Slam Dunk contest has been won then by Ray Nixon. The US born forward won the contest by doing what is the best and sure bet to win a dunk contest. Make easy dunks and make them look difficult. He did nearly the same dunks that he did last year but this time he had a baseball cap on his head during his attempts. Second place was for the German amateur Fabian Greiser who missed his last attempt (a 360 behind the back) when he looked like the sure winner with his trademark dunks made before.
- After this, I had the possibility to talk a bit with Jan Pommer, the boss of the German league. I wanted to know about the possibility to see the Euroleague Final Four in Berlin as it has been reported here some days ago. He did not deny the information but he said that Berlin is a sure candidate in a mid-term future. The decision for 2009 is not taken so far so the possibilities to see the event at the O2 World next year is still given according to Pommer.
- The All-Star game in itself was nice but not extraordinary. It was an All-Star game. The North team was led by the explosive guard duo from ALBA Berlin Julius Jenkins and Bobby Brown who came up with some nice threes and dunks. The North won it and Julius Jenkins got elected MVP by an SMS vote from the attendance and TV spectators. What was funny was to see the coach of the North, Luka Pavicevic, standing the whole game and announcing the setups to be played to his guards on nearly every attack. On the other hand, Dirk Bauermann was very calm and did not looked really interested in the game.
The conclusion is that it was a nice day, without anything special. A interesting NBBL game, a three point contest without any super performance, a correct dunking contest and a pleasing All-Star game. I am still not a fan of such an event, but it was good to see the Arena (which is normally the host of an ice hockey and a Handball team. And it will not see in the future a home team in basketball but probably some “event” games). I prefer by far my next trip to Mannheim which will be the Alberst Schweitzer Turnier in March.