Seeing Torvoris Baker On The Stat Sheet Gave Me That Surprised But Happy Line Wow That Guy Is Still Playing

A thing I love doing every day is checking stat sheets from all over the world. Seeing what ex NBA players are up to overseas is always interesting, because some of them just can’t make the transition or seeing Americans put up ridiculous numbers in China and some having the audacity to say that defense is actually played there or finding guys after not having had them on my radar for years pop up in a stat sheet. Just the other day I wasn’t only shocked to see Filiberto Riviera who everyone calls Juny the same way every one calls Quantez Robertson Tez still playing professional ball at age 39. But what is really peculiar about his career is simply that after playing 5 solid seasons in Europe including 3 seasons in Germany with Artland and Bamberg, he totally disappeared from the basketball map in Europe and played the rest of his career in Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Mexico. Another guy that I discovered again after a long while on the stat sheet was 39 year old undersized big man Torvoris Baker (201-F-1983, college: Detroit). He gave me that surprised but happy line of wow that guy is still playing. A reason for that was probably because he is back in the Regionalliga where keeps stats and the last 6 seasons with BBC Osnabruck where he balled in the Oberliga and second Regionalliga, there weren’t stats on to remain in the fold with how his career is doing. I had interviewed the Detroit native twice once in 2010 and the other time in 2015. So it was only fitting that we would keep our 5-6 year cycle of interviews continue with a new one. I reached him on a cool November day and had to compliment him about still being able to play the game that he loves at the ripe age of 38. I figured that maybe he took some inspiration from his ex Gotha head coach Chris Ensminger who also was a dinosaur playing until he was 40 years old, but boy was I wrong. ‘I don’t really have a secret. I just try to eat healthy and workout. That with a mixture of being mentally strong. Chris Ensminger no comment’, stressed Torvoris Baker. Oh right there had been some kind of issue that Baker had had with him in Gotha.

Torvoris Baker who lists MJ, Kobe, Shaq and Hakeem on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore was born on March 24, 1983 in Albany, Georgia and grew up in Detroit and played at Cooley high school. He then made the jump to the NCAA playing for the University Of Detroit Mercy from 2003-2006 playing a total of 92 games. He was able to improve his scoring and rebounding averages each season and as a senior played 32 games averaging 8.9ppg, 7.6rpg, 1.3apg, FG: 50.6%, 3PT: 11.1%, FT: 64.1%. He began his rookie season in Ireland with Neptune Cork (Ireland-SuperLeague) and totally dominated playing 16 games averaging 23.0ppg, 14.2rpg, 2.8apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 65.5%, FT: 44.2%. As is usually the case with guys that begin in countries with lower leagues like Ireland or Iceland and have that man vs boy dominance on the court normally find their way to Germany as Tovoris Baker did. And one can say the rest is history. He has been in Germany ever since and is playing in his 15th season there. His first destination was Herten in the third division called Pro B. He needed absolutely no adjustment time and averaged 18.8ppg, Reb-2 (11.6rpg), 2.2apg, 1.7spg, 2FGP: 58.3%, 3FGP: 28.0%, FT: 58.7%. Then came the best stretch of his professional career playing in the German second division called Pro A playing 208 games for teams like Chemnitz, Osnabrueck, Wurzburg and Gotha. He even took a step back in 2011 after 3 years in the Pro A and played for Gotha and was an instrumental part of helping them climb to the Pro A. In 3 seasons in the Pro A with 3 different teams, he belonged to the top rebounding big men. With BV Chemnitz he averaged 12,0ppg and 8,1rpg, with Osnabrueck 16,1ppg and 8,8rpg and with Gotha averaged 12,8ppg and 7,9rpg. It really doesn’t matter which pro player you talk to in Germany that isn’t in the BBL, the big goal and dream is always the highest level the easyCredit BBL. I always thought that he should have had a chance and was actually so close, but in the end will always have that what could have been thoughts. ‘At first it was an itch but after getting a call from Bayreuth after my 2009-10 season in Osnabrueck but we never closed the deal. I realized that they will always take the taller or bigger player. But at my size I would have been a small forward and my ball handling just wasn’t where it needed to be’, stressed Torvoris Baker.

He had his most eventful time with Gotha where he played from 2011-2015. His time there began with highs winning the Pro B title in 2012 and putting up stellar stats, but in his last 2 seasons his stats dipped as did his playing time under new head coach BBL legend Chris Ensminger. ‘My relationship with Ensminger I would say was more like a hi and bye situation. I mean we talked rarely. I understand that this is a business and with that being said sometimes we have to make business decisions. I was hesitant to play another season in Gotha. I was convinced that I would get that playing time that I was afraid I wouldn’t receive and asked to return another season. I chose to stay because I had once again no offers and I have a family so my decision was also based on what’s best for them’, remembered Torvoris Baker. After his second season in Gotha where he put up 12,8ppg and 7,9rpg could have been the time to move on, but he stayed on board. That could have been the perfect time to play in the BBL, but there were no coaches that believed in giving him an opportunity. ‘The BBL would have been nice. But I found Gotha to be the perfect situation. I can remember that year Ensminger didn’t want me to have as a player but was convinced by owner and president Frau Kollmar that I could get the job done. I had no other offers after that decent season. In which was also frustrating. Well I had one. But it was to play for the second team in Gotha’, stated Torvoris Baker who lists fellow work horses Jeremy Black and Marcus Smallwood as his toughest foes in the Pro A.

In the summer of 2015 was a tough time as he was waiting by the phone and no one called. His mother and his wife at that time were his biggest supporters keeping his head clear of negative thoughts. He didn’t get those big time offers so he settled to play for BBC Osnabrueck where he was from 2015-2020. Even if he didn’t play at a high level, he did help the club move up from Bezirksklasse, to Bezirksliga, to Oberliga to Regionalliga 2 (5th league). It never mattered where he played, because he took every league seriously and never saw himself as a man playing with boys. ‘I don’t look at it as making an adjustment. Still competition, teamwork, video, strategy, practice, games, ball etc. I approached every game the same no matter the league’, expressed Torvoris Baker. He was able to continue to put explosive stats the last years with BBC Osnabrueck even if his athleticism declined with age. ‘I’m still the same player. Just a little bit slower and jumping ability isn’t the same. Kind of lost that 2-3 years ago. But my legs are definitely not at a high level anymore’, warned Torvoris Baker.

Let’s fast forward to the 21-22 season and at 39 the American who calls Mr sniper 90/50/40 Chase Griffin as one of his five best teammates of all-time was still playing and even moved up a few leagues to the Regionalliga and played with TVI Ibbenbueren which is only one below the Pro B where he played before and two behind the Pro A. He had been affected by COVID just like everyone else in the world and was appalled how a laboratory mistake had destroyed million of lives. The pandemic also made his judgement of the world leaders more cloudy. With everything that happened, he still had to go out like everybody else and perform a job and in his case two. Usually guys balling in the Regionalliga have to have a second job, because the pay is so bad. In his case he works as a construction worker for the German company Herkenhoff. He is a Detroit native that always knew what work was and had to do it from a young age on. ‘I am no stranger to work. Rather basketball or and actual 9-5. I had a job in high school and always found a summer job in the off season in college. So there’s always work to be done on and off the court’, warned Torvoris Baker. Sometimes being a man of color in 2022 and living a normal life in a culture outside of America can be very challenging, but he has been fortunate that people in Germany are more welcoming than people in other countries ‘I believe if you can make it in Detroit you can make almost anywhere. But here in Germany it is peaceful. Of course there are people that don’t agree with you being here but that’s everywhere. No matter the race. Some people will never change’, stressed Torvoris Baker.

The American who hasn’t seen the sequel to the classic Coming To America and doesn’t believe it can be good, because they waited too long was a monster with TVI Ibbenbueren in the Regionalliga this season. It has been 8 years since he took apart teams in the Pro A and the game just isn’t the same anymore. ‘The quality of German basketball has definitely changed since I played on a high level. More and more German kids are interested in basketball and they are putting the work in. The style of play is also changing’, commented Torvoris Baker . When you have played as long as he has, there really is only one goal that you strive for. ‘New season, new club, new coach and teammates. Everyone with that one common goal. WIN and everything that comes along with winning’, said Torvoris Baker. He is still a force on the court as he demonstrated in a win over Grevenbroich where he was in total beast mode scoring 20 points, hauled down 17 boards and racked up 6 assists like a Nikola Jokic. And nailed Dorsten with 21 points and 16 boards. He remembers having some 20/20 games in Ireland and many double double games over the years. As he gets older one thing never changes as pressure is always there no matter what level your stuck at. ‘I’d have to say I enjoy pressure. There is still pressure at this age but pressure will always be a challenge and I love challenges’, stressed Torvoris Baker. As you reach 40, you have to take care of your body more if you still want to play well at any level and that is something he has been able to do with the aid of Steffen Droske who he worked with when he was in Gotha. Coaching is something he has already dabbled in and something he could imagine doing again. ‘I only coached 2 years. Stopped because I had too much on my plate. Working, coaching and playing. I might return to the coaching scene next year’, stressed Torvoris Baker. He and ex teammate Chase Griffin who is 38, there will be no bets here as to who will reach 40 and still be active. This had to be a season to remember. He helped lead Ibbenburen into the playoffs losing to Deutzer averaging 11,2ppg, 8,9rpg, 1,3apg and 1,0spg. ‘This is my last run. Closing the locker for good’, warned Torvoris Baker. Even when Baker retires, he will be working his 9-5 job, but it won’t be the end of his affiliation to basketball. One may see him more often in Vechta in the gym. ‘Keep both eyes and ears open for my son Justin Onyejiaka. He’s going to be the next best player coming out of Germany. Don’t forget the name. Stay tuned’, warned Torvoris Baker in November 2021. The big man definitely knew what he was talking about because his son Justin Onyejiaka was instrumental in the Regionalliga team Vechta 2 reach the Pro B and the NBBL team making the Final 4 in Frankfurt.,

Beating FC Bayern Munich Was One of The Greatest Wins Ever For Hendrik Gruhn And In The History Of The Young Rasta Dragons

Hendrik Gruhn is the youth head coach of the NBBL (U-19) youth team of the Young Rasta Dragons. He found experience coaching the Young Rasta Dragons U-12 and U14 teams. This season he by chance became head coach of the Vechta Regionalliga team and helped them win the title and move to the Pro B. Last weekend he led the NBBL team Young Rasta Dragons to the final. He spoke to about basketball.

Congrats Hendrik on a great season. Have you digested the tough final loss to Alba Berlin?

It wasn’t that bad. Everybody knew that Alba Berlin was the big favorite. We wanted to give our all. We are proud and happy of reaching the final.

How much of an impact did the rapid Alba Berlin start have for the rest of the game?

Alba Berlin came out and played their typical quick and aggressive style of play. If you aren’t awake at the start then it can go downhill quickly. They were obviously fresher than we were. When your shots aren’t falling well at the start then it’s hard to come back. They are such a deep team.

Just how tired was the team on Sunday? How was the body language in the locker room?

The team was physically tired but also mentally. The Munich game was really taxing. The team hadn’t even realized what they had done on Sunday morning. We were motivated, but to see how the Alba culture played was tough. The atmosphere was great before and after the game.

The game was decided at the break. What did you tell the guys in the locker room?

I told them just to enjoy the last 20 minutes. For guys like Tim Reumann and Mathis Elbers, it was their last games. They all accepted it and gave their best.

It wasn’t a great final, but do you think the boys had fun?

Yes I feel like they had fun. It wasn’t a great final and I’m sorry we couldn’t defend ourselves better. The atmosphere was great on the ride home. The three days were great a weekend that we won’t ever forget.

I know it is never easy for a coach to single out one player but which guy improved the most?

Johan Grunloh who was the leagues rookie of the year. The difference between him last September and now is like day and night. He is a totally different player. One saw that against Munich. He improved his skill set, got stronger and smarter on the court. He still has 2 years left in the NBBL. I’m still awaiting a lot from him in the next years.

Nobody expected you to reach the final. Where does the major upset over FC Bayern rank in the history of the organization?

This is one of the biggest wins in our history. I would rank it top 3. We were in the final 4 years ago in Quackenbruck. But then it was more expected. We had some incredible young players with Van Slooten and Herkenhoff. This year’s team went beyond expectations. We are very proud and this gives us added motivation for the next years. We want to take the next step and win it all next year.

Did you get any extra congratulatory remarks from the FC Bayern Munich coaches?

They all nicely congratulated us after the game. One has to understand how disappointed they were. We would have been the same. All the Munich players were very fair losers. That was good to see. It is important that young men can cope with losing.

How can one rate this incredible success of the Young Rasta Dragons? You had 4 16 year olds and 3 17 year olds. How do you explain the success?

We weren’t really able to understand what happened this season. The result was very hard work. You have to understand their lives are a lot different than average youths. I’m so proud of the guys. It is great to see that they had this euphoric attitude at the end of the season.

I was really impressed by Johann Gruenloh (204-PF-2005). What player is he today and what kind of player can he become next season?

He is a very good shot blocker now and his timing on the rebound is excellent. We want him to become a big weapon on offense in the next season. We will continue to help develop his tool box. I hope that he will make an even bigger impact next season.

Noah Janen also impressed me. He was very mature. What steps did he make on the weekend?

He wanted to make his best game against Munich. He was plagued with injuries this season but since January had been consistently on the court. His game continued to get better in the last months as he was healthy. He had to play point guard against Munich as small forward is his natural job. He did a great job against Munich and took control when he had to. I was very impressed by him. He proved that he belongs to the best players for his age. He was our MVP against Munich. Without him we wouldn’t have won.

I liked the game of Jeygor Cymbal on Sunday against Alba Berlin. What steps did he make on the weekend?

I felt sorry for him. He didn’t find to his game on Saturday. He had early foul problem and as a shooter never found his rhythm. He really wanted to prove he can play against Alba Berlin. He is a good shooter and in some phases carried us with his shooting. He developed well as a shooter and showed numerous times that he could help us in tough situations.

Killian Brockhoff also has a big future. What do you expect from him next season?

He had a solid weekend. He had to play against the defender of the year Maxwell Dongmo and held his own. He always gives his all and does so much that isn’t seen on the stat sheet. He impressed me with his passing game. He makes everyone better in a quiet way. I expect him to take a step forward and hope he finds more time with the Pro A team. He has to keep working and make his shot more stable.

You won the Regionalliga title and reached the NBBL final. How do you summarize your season?

We had a great season. If somebody had told me before the season we would win the Regionalliga and make the Top 4 final, I would of laughed. Our season was a big success. We had an unbelievable season with an almost perfect ending. I can’t wait for the next season. I’m really motivated to work with the guys.

What steps did you make as a coach this season? How did the Regionalliga experience help you?

Coaching in the Regionalliga against men and Americans helped me and the players. I was thrown into cold water after having coached the U-14 and U-16 teams. I was supported greatly by a great organization. Marius Graf was key in giving me his game philosophy and letting me use it. He also was always willing to give me advice.

Steven Clauss lauded you a lot. How instrumental was it working with him?

It was a cool experience working with him. I have known him some years now. We visited me in Vechta twice. Whenever I had a question or felt bad after a loss, he would always help me. He is a coaching legend and has seen so much. I’m very thankful for his advice.

What was your impression of the Top 4 weekend in Frankfurt? Did it pass the test?

It was a lot of fun. It was a great event with your Live Stream and the master of ceremony bringing atmosphere. Usually we play in small gyms and there are always problems involved. But the top 4 in Frankfurt was super organized and there were always people helping you. It is a nice place to play. It was a super weekend. I hope it will continue to be played there the next years.

Thanks Hendrik for the chat.

A Recipe For Successful Team Play For Jochen Lotz (ratiopharm Ulm) Has Been Having His Players Continuously  Watch Videos And The Ulm Pro´s

Jochen Lotz just completed his fifth season as JBBL (U-16) head coach guiding the team to the 2022 title. He twice reached the German U-14 final and won the German U-16 cup. He also had the opportunity to work at the Lebron James academy. He spoke to after the 2022 JBBL Final 4 weekend in Frankfurt

Congrats on wining the 2022 JBBL title in Frankfurt. How was the celebration after? How do 16 year old German boys party?

It was more unspectacular. We had a water party and singing in the locker room. We celebrated a bit more with singing in front of the arena with family. We then rewatched the game on the bus home on The celebrating was intensive, but short.

Ratiopharm Ulm began so well leading 20-4. How vital was the start for the team being able to get the win?

The start was really important. We knew that if they were to lick blood, we could have problems. They had shown this playing against Alba Berlin in the quarter finals. We didn’t want that to happen to us. That is why we played aggressive and pushed the ball inside. But we also had luck. They didn’t hit well. If they had, it could of given game another dynamic.

In the fourth quarter you rested some starters after having a big lead allowing Rostock to come back cutting the lead down to 11 points. Were you at any time in danger of losing?

I didn’t feel like we would be in danger, but I knew that if I didn’t make the change, they could come back quickly in 2 minutes if they made shots. They had to play risky taking quick shots. We did a good job always finding good solutions.

In the past years the JBBL has seen incredible talents like Peter Hemschmeier and Luc Van Slooten, but how impressed were you with Roy Krupnikas>?

He is individually a great player. He is two handed and so calm at his age. He is so controlled and at any time can find his teammates. He has great court vision and being able to find solutions at his age is very good.

I was really impressed with the ratiopharm Ulm team play. How much of a challenge for you is to teach team play for so young kids?

It is continuous training. We watch a lot of video as well as letting them watch the pro’s. It is a plus that Jaka Lakovic likes to do the same with his players. He likes team play and passing. It helps when the kids see that.

I was really impressed with defensive player of the year Joel Cwick. How much did he profit from the weekend?

Joel had a fantastic season. He showed so many times that he could be valuable in critical phases. He defended Roy Krupnikas the best from us. I spoke a lot with him leading up to the top 4. He had the tendency to finish to early on the shot clock, but at the top 4 he executed really well. His work and listening really paid off.

Cwick played 13 NBBL games averaging 8 points per game. How big is his future?

For me Joel is an absolute easyCredit BBL prospect. He has the whole package. He worked on his shot a lot this season and gained more self-confidence. He made some shots. He is athletic, has the will and intelligence to go a long way.

I was also impressed with big man Eric Reibe. You said that he was an important weapon inside. How did you see his development on the weekend?

He could make the adjustment to the NBBL easier with his experience in the JBBL. The JBBL isn’t easy for him. He is usually always the biggest player. There are so many smaller guys that only reach his chest. He has to confront so many hands in the post. He did a great job dealing with that. He showed he has a good set of soft hands. His potential is in the sky.

I also really enjoyed Barma Gergio Buglyol. He was an incredible role player making plays at both ends. How vital was he for the team success?

He dug his own shadow. He had been in and out with injuries plus being away form home wasn’t easy for him. He is a finesse player that is very smart. He has been training daily since Feb. He has been developing well from month to month. He can do it all. I felt the final was his best game of the season. It was great timing for us.

I also enjoyed Jordan Muller. He was so calm and controlled and had a nice jumper. Could his way go to the NCAA?

His dad is from Los Angeles and his mother has a fable for USA. I have no idea if the NCAA will be his route. He is still young and in school. I have never heard him talk about it. He has always been mature and has a cool swag. He is always calm and has a good soft shot. He really developed well in the last months in being able to lead a team with his court vision and passing.

How were you impressed by the organization of the Top 4 in Frankfurt?

I was very impressed by the organization at the Top 4. It was a great show and experience for the kids. I liked the introductions, half-time shows and having fans. Unfortunately form the camera angle, one couldn’t see the Ulm fans who were on the camera side. But all in all, it was a very professional.

How have you experienced the working relationship with NBBL coach Anton Gavel l? I’m sure that both can profit from each other.

We are often communicating concerning the players. But I’m actually more in communication with Chris Ensminger who coaches the Orange Academy NBBL team. More of my players play there. It has been great being able to communicate with Anton and hear all the stories from his career. I tell him stories about the youth league. In that sense I’m the veteran and he is the rookie. But all the interesting stories come from him.

You worked 4 times at the Lebron James academy. What did you learn from the American way of coaching?

In the United States everything is done very professionally and there is a lot of enthusiasm for the sport. The opportunities they have with facilities and sponsors is incredible. I met many coaches from college and high school. We traded info about styles and strategy. They were very impressed how young German kids can play in men’s leagues.

How did you develop as a coach on the weekend? I’m sure you were able to take many great things with you from the competition.

The experience in the games was important but even more important was the intensive preparation. The work was very intensive. During the game situations one couldn’t really realize what one was taking form the games. But that will come when I watch the games again

Thanks Jochen for the chat.

Desmond Ringer Always Wants The Success Of The Team And Has Had To Sacrifice His Solid Three Pointer As A Professional

Desmond Ringer (206-F-1994, college: Mercer) is a 27 year old 206cm forward from McDonough, Georgia that began the season with Rot-Weiss Cuxhaven Baskets (Germany-Regionalliga) averaging 20.6ppg, 11.7rpg, 1.5apg, 1.1spg, 2FGP: 57.0%, 3FGP: 32.0%, FT: 78.8% and then finished the season with the Surrey Scorchers (United Kingdom-BBL) averaging 12.6ppg, 6.0rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 56.3%, FT: 78.6%. He started his professional career in 2019 with CTC CAN 79 Basket AS Niort (France-NM2) averaging 9.4ppg, 10.6rpg, FGP: 64%, 3FGP: 50%, FT: 76%. In 20-21 he played with Sampaense Basket (Portugal-Proliga) averaging 16.8ppg, Reb-3 (11.0rpg), 1.3apg, FGP: 59.7%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 78.4%. He began his basketball career at Eagle’s Landing High School. He then played a season at the University of South Carolina (NCAA) averaging 2.1ppg, 2.0rpg. He then finished at Mercer (NCAA) where he played 88 games between 2015-2018 averaging 7.8ppg, 4.6rpg, FGP: 61.2%, FT: 80.4% as a freshman,7.6ppg, 5.8rpg, FGP: 57.5%, FT: 77.3% in his second year and 9.5ppg, 5.7rpg, FGP: 60.2%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 81.7% as a junior. He spoke to about basketball.

Thanks Desmond for talking to You were in France and Portugal during the Pandemic. How have you experienced COVID and what were the most challenging things you had to cope with?

Covid has been tough mentally because of the quarantines that I’ve been though. Depending on the city you’re in it already may not be too much to do but when basketball has to stop and your work routine is messed up it’s really tough to stay focused on the goal. I’m thankful for it now because I’ve grown to be mentally strong and that’s something that all hoopers overseas need to be.

With everything that you witnessed during COVID off the court how do you feel did you get stronger as a man?

The mental aspect was everything. I had to learn how to remain focused regardless of the circumstances. I think that’s something that is important and that I can use on and off the court through the rest of my life.

Your played your first season with Rot-Weiss Cuxhaven Baskets (Germany-Regionalliga). How would you compare the German Regionalliga to the leagues in France and Portugal where you played beforehand?

It’s hard to say because I’ve played on different levels in each country but the toughest year for me was in France. We had some dogfights in practice and it made me tough. It was also my first year out so I didn’t really know how to move when it came to being a real pro and coming to work and produce every day. Everywhere I’ve been has been good hoops though.

What was it been like being teammates with 38 year old German Andreas Hasenkam who is in his 16th season with the team. You were 9 years old when he played his first season in Cuxhaven.

‘Hase’ is what we call back home an OG or a Vet. He’s a knock down shooter that knows where to be on the floor. He plays hard. Knows his role and is good at what he does. He’s a pleasure to play with.

What has it been like getting the ball in the paint from German point guard Deon Mcduffie? This guy had a lot of talent but never reached the first league in Germany. Do you see the amazing talent that he has?

Deon might be one of the best Guards I’ve played with. A real floor general who has the ability to pass you open. As a big man that’s what you want, someone who’s going to get you the ball in the right spots so you can be successful that’s what he’s done for me. He’s a big part of why I’ve been playing so well this season. He’s definitely high level talent and after this season a high level team should come get him. The film and the stats don’t lie and he’s a menace on defense.

Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 206cm forward. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?

I think I’m a Paul Milsap, Lamarcus Aldridge, Zach Randolph type big man. I’m great on the inside with my footwork but a lot of people don’t know that I can really shoot and handle the ball. I’m so skilled and I’ve been working on my game so much to really showcase EVERYTHING that I can do.

You have become a double double monster at the pro level. What other strengths does your game have besides scoring and rebounding?

I’m a great teammate. I really want to see the success of the team win even if it means me sacrifices part of my game that I want to showcase. For instance this year I want to shoot more 3’s but we already have great 3 point shooters in Marc Klesper, Deon, Hase, and others. My team doesn’t need me to shoot 3’s to win. I always play to win. I do things like talk on defense and make sure everyone is organized on schemes and ball screen coverages. It’s not stuff that will show up on the stat sheet but it wins games.

How much is your three pointer still in development? Do you feel like you could incorporate more of a three into your game?

I wouldn’t say it’s in development because I can knock it down consistently. It’s more of a confidence thing and being more comfortable just letting it go. All my teammates from high school to college know I can shoot. I just never really had a real green light to let it go like I know I can.

On what area’s of your game are you working on most right now so you can continue to improve and move up the ladder?

I want to improve my ball handling and shooting to continue to make myself more versatile. I honestly seeing myself being able to play the SF/PF/C because I’m capable. I think my confidence is the main thing to work on and that just comes with more reps and hard work. It’s not a matter of if I can do it. It’s a matter of when it will happen.

You put up solid stats in the NCAA and have dominated in leagues in Europe. What do you feel is still missing for you to compete in a first division?

Personally I feel like it’s my athleticism. I’m not too athletic when it comes to dunking the ball. I’ve had numerous back surgeries and other injuries that I’m constantly battling and rehabbing. I haven’t felt like my real full healthy self in so long. But I still find ways to score and rebound without the athleticism. I can use angles and footwork to get my shot off and still be effective. I’m a smart ball player too. I feel like I’m ready for a top league job but that’s not always in my hands. I’ll just keep working until I get there though.

Last season you played for Sampaense Basket (Portugal-Proliga) averaging 16.8ppg, Reb-3 (11.0rpg), 1.3apg, FGP: 59.7%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 78.4%. You had a monster 24/21 game. Where does that game rank in your best games of all-time?

It was a big game for me because it was my first game winner as a pro. I hit a last second catch and shoot 3 for the win. It was high double double but I wouldn’t call it my best game.

As a rookie you played for CTC CAN 79 Basket AS Niort (France-NM2) averaging 9.4ppg, 10.6rpg, FGP: 64%, 3FGP: 50%, FT: 76%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie overseas where you knew that you were very far away from home?

I went into my first job not really knowing how it was supposed to be. I’d never been the first option of a team ever in my life until I got to France. It was an adjusted having people come to me for a basketball because in college or high school I was never asked to be the guy that people needed to bring the game home. Now I realized that I’m ready for that and I have it in me to do those type of things. If I could do it all over again I’d go back and kill that league.

You began your NCAA career at the University of South Carolina (NCAA) playing 27 games averaging 2.1ppg, 2.0rpg. As a freshman you upset powerhouse Kentucky 72-67. What memories do you have of that game? You battled against 7 future NBA players. Which guy do you remember impressing you the most?

I remember not playing too much that game haha! But nah the energy in the building was crazy. The fans stormed the court after we won, it was so much fun. All those guys were tough! From The Harrison twins to Cauley Stine, and Julius Randle. They were all amazing talents. I’m just glad I got the chance to compete against them.

You were a freshman together with Sindarius Thornwell. Did you have a notion that he would make the NBA back then?

Sindarius was different man. A gym rat. It was times where we would go out to party and he wouldn’t. He was just locked in, He knew what he was there to do. Super confident. Seemed like he did mostly everything right on the court. He deserves everything he has because he worked for it. I know he’s about to kill the BBL too. SHOUT OUT MY BOY!

You then played at Mercer (NCAA) from 2015-2018. There you put up very consistent stats. How do you feel did your game grow there?

It grew so much fundamentally. I had great coaches to help me develop touch and footwork and I became really really good under the basket.

You had many great games at Mercer, but how memorable was your 18 points in the thrilling 70-69 win over Wofford?

It’s memorable for a few reasons, I can’t stand Wofford college, I respect them and we battled but it’s no other win than I wanted more than against them. I hit the go ahead bucket in OT. It was special for sure.

How did head coach Bob Hoffman groom and prepare you best for a professional career?

He prepared me for life in general. He was all about being punctual and he held us accountable for everything we did and it’s something I really respected about him.

Who won a one on one in practice you or Demetre Rivers?

Meech would have gotten me back in the day but I think I can get him now. He’s in the Czech Republic doing his thing now.

Who was the toughest player that you encountered in the NCAA that would reach the NBA?

It’s so many to choose from. One player that I knew was good but I didn’t expect him to turn into what he did was Jordan Clarkson. He went to University of Missouri and gave us the business when I was at U of South Carolina.

Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?

This one is hard to answer because I’ve met some of the coolest and realest people I’ve ever met through this game so for me to pick just one it would be a disservice to them all.

Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads.

That’s tough but I got to go Jordan, Lebron, Kobe and Hakeem. Hakeem’s footwork was just crazy!

What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?

I think they are two different players. Their best attributes aren’t the same. They both changed the game, both have made a name. I just respect and admire both of their games.

Did you see the sequel to the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?

It was OK, I watched it with my pops. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad haha

Thanks Desmond for the chat.

Alba Berlin Crush The Young Rasta Dragons 107-64 In The 2022 NBBL Final

2022 NBBL Top 4 MVP Chris Tilly
2022 NBBL Top 4 MVP Chris Tilly

18 Hours before the NBBL final tip off, the final seconds of the semi final between the Young Rasta Dragons were winding down and one could sense the extreme tension, disappointment and shock on the FC Bayern Munich bench as they were about to suffer a brutal 68-64 loss. This wasn’t just an upset, but it was a major major upset which could have been equivalent to a Lebron James playing one on one against an average player in the NCAA and suffering defeat. FC Bayern Munich had incredibly vast experience with guys that had played 162 Pro B (3rd pro league Germany) games while the Young Rasta Dragons had four players at age 16 and three guys that were 17 years old. If they could repeat a second upset again less than 24 hours later against Alba Berlin seemed very unlikely. When I observed the two teams warm up before the final, the difference in size was like night and day. It was only logical to understand that in mind the Young Rasta Dragons had achieved their peak and final against FC Bayern Munich. ‘It was an unbelievable feeling and atmosphere in the dressing room after the win. We achieved more than we ever thought. The euphory at that moment was great’, said Young Rasta Dragon Noah Jaenen. In the final the Young Rasta Dragons were overpowered by Alba Berlin losing 107-64. They gave all they had, but for Alba Berlin it was a lazy like Sunday afternoon walk in the park as they just played their game and dominated inside and supplied nasty defensive pressure that the Young Rasta Dragons couldn’t come to terms with. ‘We had a lot of energy today. We also had a lot of self confidence. We played very good defense and our inside play was strong’, stated Christoph Tilly (210-PF-2003). Even if losing a final is never pleasant, Noah Jaenen saw it as a positive experience. ‘Even if it was disappointing, I think that it was a great experience and everyone got something out of it. We went a lot further than anyone ever thought. I just hope that we are able to beat them sometime’, stressed Noah Jaenen.

Alba Berlin celebrate at the buzzer

Alba Berlin didn’t waste any time jumping all over the Young Rasta Dragons 18-2. The Young Rasta Dragons right away were hit hard by the aggressive pressure on ball defense by Alba Berlin. Fin Siedl scored twice with a floater and transition basket while Elias Rapieque (200-PG-2004) also scored on transition while Rikus Schulte who averaged 10,oppg in the Pro B dropped a trey. Rapieque followed with another transition basket. In this phase Alba Berlin got three on ball steals in the Young Rasta Dragons back court which led to easy baskets. The Young Rasta Dragons then got vital back to back three’s from Jegor Cymball who came into the weekend shooting 34% from outside to get back into the contest trailing only 20-10. The Young Rasta Dragons continued to execute really well possibly their best in the game and got some more support from Emilijus Peleda with a lay in and trey from modern big man Johan Grunloh. But that was as close as the Young Rasta Dragons would come in the game as from now on Alba Berlin would run away with the game and never look back. They got good support from bigs Marc Tilly and Janis Berger with lay ins as well as back to back baskets from guard Tjark Lademacher who showed his versatility with a offensive rebound and put back and steal and coast to coast strut and dunk. Alba Berlin led comfortably 36-23 after 10 minutes. ‘We never found our rhythm. They didn’t allow us to do what we wanted to. We wanted to play around and play our game, but it didn’t work’, stated Noah Jaenen. ‘We played very aggressive defense and put up the tempo which helped us get the big lead’, said Christoph Tilly who picke dup the MVP award for the tournament.

Alba Berlin thank their fans

In the second quarter the explosive scoring by Alba Berlin was cut in half, but the Young Rasta Dragons couldn’t profit from them as their fatigue grew allowing them only to score 9 points. Even if Alba Berlin wouldn’t score as much as in the first quarter they still executed well going on a 10-3 run to extend their lead to 46-26. In the run they got a three pointer from 16 year old Nils Machowski who turned a lot of heads with his shooting on the weekend. Alba Berlin also continued to do what they wanted to inside getting two baskets from big man Christoph Tilly. Even when the Young Rasta Dragons helped well, Alba Berlin just mowed them down scoring easily. The physicality of Alba Berlin really hindered the Young Rasta Dragons from having success. ‘We played against them twice this season and we knew what to expect. But it still amazes me how physical they are. They are really difficult to play against’, commented Noah Jaenen. Down the stretch of the second quarter, the scoring was limited as the turnovers for both teams continued to mount. Alba Berlin had a big lead and began to experiment while the Young Rasta Dragons continued to cough up the ball against the aggressive on ball defense. Alba Berlin continued to out work the Young Rasta Dragons in the zone and got buckets from Guard Gian Aydingolu and athletic freak Jamal Entezami while the Young Rasta Dragons got consecutive baskets from Karl Buehner with a lay in and trey, but Alba Berlin led 54-32 at the break.

Alba Berlin continued to control the game in the third quarter and found back to more effective execution scoring 27 points while they kept the Young Rasta Dragons at 20 points. Alba Berlin got instant sniper support from Jamal Entezami who fired home consecutive three’s showing he is way more than just living over the rim. The Young Rasta Dragons did a good job getting to the free throw line as a means of getting baskets when field goals weren’t falling. But the fatigue rate of the Young Rasta Dragons continued to be low which allowed Alba Berlin to continue to execute their offense at ease. Berger and Schulte connected, but the Young Rasta Dragons had an instant answer as Cymball displayed his hot outside shooting scoring twice, but Alba Berlin still led comfortably 71-47. Killian Brochoff came back strong after getting three quick fouls in the first half and scored two baskets. Even if Alba Berlin stands for rugged defense and unselfish offense, when your leading by 20 plus points, a coach like Vladimir Bogojevic will close an eye and allow a fantastic 1-1 player like Entezami to do his magic as he scored two more times giving Alba Berlin the commanding 81-52 advantage after 30 minutes. ‘ We had little energy left. We also may have had concentration problems. But I think the main problem that we had in this game was that we never found our rhythm’, added Noah Jaenen.

The game was over by the fourth quarter. Young Rasta Dragons head coach Hendrik Grunert allowed some of the guys who didn’t play much during the season like Julius Bronnert, Jonas Gross, and Tim-Felix Buhren to get some playing time. Alba Berlin continued to execute at ease scoring 26 points while the Young Rasta Dragons added only 12 points. No team scored at all in the first few minutes as 8 possessions led to zero points. Alba Berlin continued to play their style going inside and just dominating with their physicality. Rikus Schulte scored twice and Christoph Tilly reached the free throw line twice as Alba Berlin led 89-56. A big strength of Alba Berlin this season was their team play and bench where every guy had a role and fulfilled it. Especially the big men behind Tilly like Janis Berger and Linus Ruff had solid games from the bench as they combined for 16 points and 12 rebounds. ‘They are good players Ruff is very young with potential and has a nice touch while Berger can do it all coupled with good decisions’, stated Christoph Tilly. 204cm big man Gabriel Krstanovic who only averaged 6 minutes per game in the NBBL this season and body wise is a cross between Maik Zirbes and Ivan Pavic got extra cheers in the stands form Alba fans as he made a trey and dunk to seal the win and end the game. ‘He always gives his all. That was the only three he attempted this season and he made it. That made us happy. He works hard and deserves the minutes that he gets’, expressed Christoph Tilly. Alba Berlin had 6 players in double figures and were led by Christoph Tilly with 16 points. Elias Rapieque added 14 points and Jannis Berger 12 points while the Young Rasta Dragons were led by Jegor Cymbal with 19 points and Killian Brockhoff added 11 points. Alba Berlin shot 52% from the field and 32% from outside and had 54 rebounds and 19 turnovers while the Young Rasta Dragons shot 29% from the field and 28% from outside and had 33 rebounds and 31 turnovers.

Vladimir Bogojevic Wants The NBBL Crown in 2022 After Winning The JBBL Title In Frankfurt With Alba Berlin In 2017

German-Serbian Vladimir Bogojevic is an ex player that won 5 titles in Germany for teams Alba Berlin and Rhein-Energie Cologne. He also was a two time BBL allstar and played for the German national team at the 1997 and 1999 European Championships. Currently he is coach of the Alba Berlin U-19 youth team. He spoke to leading up to the 2022 Final 4 tournament in Frankfurt.

Thanks Vladimir for talking to With what kind of feelings are you returning back to Frankfurt where you won your first JBBL title 5 years ago?

I’m always happy to be in Hessen. I played in Giessen at the start of my career. I also won a cup in Frankfurt with Cologne 2004. I have nothing but good memories from Frankfurt. If I will win again, we will see

After not having the NBBL Final 4 for two years, how excited are you to be a part of it again?

I am so happy. This isn’t fake. I was happy for every game that was played after the long Covid pause. It is fantastic to see how the boys are developing. Not being able to play games was really missed. Being able to work with the boys together is so great.

How strange is it being in your third season with Alba Berlin as NBBL coach and having the last two seasons not being completed. How much did the German youth development of talented basketball players get effected?

We were powerless. In the first Covid year everyone was just trying to find a gym to practice in. Nobody knew what to do in this time. Covid came from one day to the next. We were lucky to get the kids in the gym. We had a plan for every player, but it was a very tough, because we couldn’t test their development because there were no opponents. It was a real challenge. Then we were seeing easing in other countries like Spain where they began playing with masks. What we lost on time to develop players with competition, we will never know. We will never know how a player would have developed under normal circumstances.

How did you experience the years 2019-2021 as NBBL coach? Despite Covid and all the problems, how did you see the development of players come along?

We did all we could. Training is nice, but after a while you want to play games again. After a while all the training and practice lies. People get used to each other. We had something like 6 games in two years. Having those game situations is so important for the development of a young player. You can shoot 30 three’s in a row in practice with no defense, but then going 2/5 in a game is a different situation all over again.

What did you learn as a coach during Covid that you would never have experience had Covid not come?

That is a very good question. I learned to become more patient. I learned to be able to put it all better into perspective how to deal with young players.

Alba Berlin had a great regular season. How proud are you of the team considering there was a two year pause. It can score a lot, but also great defensively. How would you define the philosophy of the team?

Our philosophy in the NBBL is the same as for the pro players. We want to play quick and defend aggressively. The pro’s show us how to do it and we try to do what we can to follow it. We want to always be active and play with tempo in both directions. I hope that we can play with different types of tempo and hope we can make the next step.

The team is stocked as usual with a lot of talent. What is your secret as a coach to keeping your players happy with the roles and minutes?

We have the understanding from the players that they believe in what we say. We want to have a certain discipline and the guys know that they have to fight for their roles. I think having that attitude is the best for a player’s development. They know that if they don’t defend or don’t rebound, they won’t play. We believe in the players and try to find a solution as a team.

How important will the experience of Lademacher, Aydinoglu and Schule play? Could it be the difference between a title or not?

Their experience will play a big role. Ulm also has a lot of experience. It is very important that they will give us the needed stability and physicality. I really hope that we can profit from their development this season.

How special is Elias Rapieque? How is he different than brother Evans?

Both are really good boys. Elias has more experience at that age and is more calm.

How raw is a guy like Nils Machowski? What can we await from him in the Top 4?

Let us be surprised how he will play. I really like his calmness on the court. He has a lot of self-confidence. He always knows what to do. He always has a plan.

You have a very tough match up in the semi-final against ratiopharm Ulm that has 7 Pro B players. What kind of game can we await?

I’m so overjoyed and excited to play against ratiopharm Ulm. They also have a lot of guys playing Pro B. At this level, it is so difficult to make a prediction, because you never know what can happen during a game. They are a really good opponent.

You won the 2017 JBBL title with Alba Berlin and Franz Wagner. Are you surprised that he was able to have such a good rookie season in the NBA?

No I wasn’t surprised. One saw early on in his development that he was special. He proved everywhere where he played with us and in college that he can play. He went his path and succeeded. Luca Doncic once said it is easier to score 30 points in the NBA than in the Euroleague. Malte Delow also played in Frankfurt 5 years ago. He also has developed into a good pro.

Thanks Vladi for the chat.

Rookie Jonathan Braeger´s Fondest Moment Wasn´t His 100 Point Game But Building Life Long Friendships In Vilsbiburg

Sometimes players will be forever remembered for a certain feat they accomplished than for anything else. Without really having to sit down and reflect and think too long about the question, things like Bill Russell’s 11 NBA titles in 13 years, Kobe Bryant’s 81 points or Will Chamberlain’s 100 point game stick out right away. It is isn’t any different for American Jonathan Paul Braeger (178-G) who not only experienced an incredible quadruple in the German regionalliga (4th division), but also scored 100 points in a 40 minute game. But as so often in life there was a catch to the extraordinary accomplishment that will pretty much be remembered just as much as his quadruple assistance of 12 rebounds, 16 assists and 12 steals. His team Baskets Vilsbiburg played against Wurzburg that had corona cases and didn’t want to play the game, but reschedule it, but Vilsbiburg didn’t cooperate and the game was played. Wurzburg had 5 players and in the second half had only 3 people. Braeger was playing 5-3 and in a way scoring open shots all night long. As great as the feat was, it was only normal that he would get a lot of hate. But the Wisconsin native carried himself like a true professional and two months later still remembers the game. ‘In all honesty the 100 point game was an amazing accomplishment but it’s not something I necessarily think about. I got a lot of love for that accomplishment but also got a lot of hate. Things have definitely died down. I don’t receive much hate anymore since it was a while ago but the love is still there from a lot of different players and of course my family and friends’, stressed Jonathan Paul Braeger. One thing is for sure, even if he got a lot of hate, his colleagues who leave it on the floor every night mostly understood what he went through and it was his duty to play. 80% of the players I talked to would have done the same thing. ‘I’ve talked to many professionals players and other basketball players and I would say 80% of them said they would of done the same thing like you said. I know it may of seemed selfish to a few people but as a professional I get paid to perform and compete no matter what the circumstances are’, stated Jonathan Paul Braeger.

He didn’t end the season with another 100 point game, but actually had to have his A game prepared as in the last game against Bamberg had to win a do or die game in order to keep the Baskets Vilsbiburg in the Regionalliga. He helped lead his team in the playdowns where the Baskets Vilsbiburg played against a few teams at the bottom for the ticket to stay in the Regionalliga. ‘Playing in the play downs this season was a bittersweet moment. It gave our club and myself more games to play. We were a pretty young team this season so it was nice to get more games in. We all would of loved to be in the playoffs but with our young and inexperienced team it was nice to get more games in to develop as individual players and as a team’, commented Jonathan Paul Braeger. As he demonstrated all season long, he once again had another masterful game with 21/8/15 stats. So being able to end the season on a positive note made him very happy. ‘ It was a very nice feeling winning our final game of the season. It’s every team’s goal to move up a league but unfortunately we missed that goal this season. Taking first place in the play downs secured our spot to stay in Regionalliga which is nice for the club’, expressed Jonathan Paul Braeger. One has to wonder how a competitor like him can enjoy a big game like he had considering he once scored 100 points in a game? ‘The most important thing before stats is winning. I love winning and it’s always nice to put up good stats but it’s more important to just compete and WIN! People don’t remember stats, people remember if you’re a winner’, warned Jonathan Paul Braeger. Despite scoring 100 points, he felt like nothing really changed after that with what teams threw at him on defense. ‘I’m not sure how many people noticed it. I mean it’s a crazy stat line and people that did see it were pretty amazed by it. Throughout the rest of the play downs I was basically face guarded full court all game. Even before my 100 point performance I still was getting face guarded most of the season as being one of the top scorers in the league’, said Jonathan Paul Braeger.

The 178cm guard who believes that the Golden State Warriors will win the 2022 NBA title in 6 games over the Milwaukee Bucks played his first season overseas and often guys that play in lower leagues quickly realize if continuing a career is worth it or not. The pay in the Regionalliga is little and often you are the only import on a team that has experienced and young Germans. But he was fortunate to be teammates with a real veteran with Kenny Fluellen who played in the German Pro A and Pro B, the two leagues above the Regionalliga where Braeger played. Playing with a player like that can only give him hope to continue to grind and move up the basketball ladder. ‘It’s been an absolute pleasure playing with Kenny. Coming in as a rookie Kenny took me under his wing and helped me tremendously. Kenny’s been a pro now for 8+ years and knows what it takes to play at a high level. The advice he’s giving me will stick with me for life. Couldn’t of asked for a better friend and teammate as a rookie. Kenny helped me stay focused and don’t give up. Even when times were hard with losing some close games this season he taught me to keep my winning mentality. To learn from the losses and keep pushing through the tough times. Kennys composure is amazing. He’s taught me to keep believing in myself and always push myself to get better’, added Jonathan Paul Braeger. As an American who is already 26, he was one of the older guys on the team and he was able to see the other players develop during the season. He had a birds eye view of which player was the most improved and which German kid made the biggest strides during the course of the season. ‘ I would have to say the most improved player this season was Thomas Kahlert. Thomas is one of the youngest guys on the team this season and this is his first year playing in Regionalliga 1 and he kept improving each and every week. He was our hype man with some nasty dunks and posters but also a great teammate that learned from all of us and is a very coachable player. Bright future for that kid. Besides Thomas I would say Mo made the biggest strides. Mo is the youngest player on our roster and this kid works. He plays on our club’s second team as well as the first team. He practices every single day and is the most coachable player. He’s only 20 years young and started playing basketball at age 16. So only playing basketball for 4 short years his improvement is incredible’, remembered Jonathan Paul Braeger.

The American who also gained professional experience with ABA teams Chicago Fury and Illinois Panthers and also played with the Wisconsin Blaze (WBL) had a brilliant first season overseas with the Baskets Vilsbiburg averaging 26.2ppg, 9.3 assists, 11rbs, 3.6 steals. After putting up stats like that, how can one not be content? ‘Individually I’m very satisfied with the numbers I put up. But more importantly I wish we would of won more. It was a great building season for the club as we had a handful of rookies including myself and our coach. I couldn’t of asked for any better teammates and coaches and I can see a lot of success coming in the future for the club of Vilsbiburg’, stressed Jonathan Paul Braeger. Coming from the States to overseas ball is never easy, but he had no adjustment period. ‘German basketball is very physical. The physicality is way more then what I was used to playing at UW Fox Valley. As a player your goal every season is to improve your game both mentally and physically. What separates a good player from a great player is knowing that there is always room for improvement and that there are better players then yourself out there. But the work ethic you have as an individual is what separates the good and great players’, said Jonathan Paul Braeger. He filled the stat sheet like no other and as a point guard was able to develop further which will help him make the next step next season. ‘I feel like the thing I matured most this season was learning how to control the game as a point guard. Learning how to control the pace of the game. It was one thing I really wanted to work on this season was controlling my pace. Playing back in the states I just wanted to run run run and go fast all the time. Not that going fast is a bad thing but there’s times and situations where you need to slow down and learn to control the game especially being a point guard’, commented Jonathan Paul Braeger. Not only did he make waves on the court and a reason to come back next season, but also the opportunity to experience wonderful new adventures off the court can help him return. ‘I made it one full season. Been blessed to stay healthy throughout this long season. My most memorable moments off the court was just traveling around Germany and the surrounding countries close by. The history behind everything and the scenery is beautiful. And of course hanging out with my teammates’, stated Jonathan Paul Braeger.
The Mr 100 point guy who played at Wrightstown high school and then at the University Wisconsin-Fox Valley will use his summer wisely. Even before he was on the plane back home to the States, he already knew exactly what his focus would be. Surprisingly it wasn’t seeking out his favorite eatery that he has dreamed of in the last 8 months, but about his career and where he wants to go with it. He knows that he is far away from being that complete player. ‘There’s always room for improvement. This summer I’ll be working my ass off in the gym. A couple things I really want to focus on is my finishing at the rim and my strength. With knowing how physical professional ball can be overseas I need to get stronger and learn to finish through contact. I’m not satisfied and I want to reach the level I know I can reach. The game of basketball is everything to me and has taught me many things. Not just the game alone but life lessons as well. I’ll keep pushing myself and I pray each and everyday to the man upstairs that a team will give me a opportunity to prove that I can play at the highest level here in Europe’, warned Jonathan Paul Braeger. Obviously his 100 point game helped put him more on the basketball map in Germany so why not come back to the place where he made history? ‘I would absolutely love to come back to Germany. The history and people here in Germany have done nothing but amaze me. The basketball here in a Germany is some of the best basketball in the world. My goal is to move up here in Germany but if not here I’m open to going to another country to experience the culture and different playing styles’, stressed Jonathan Paul Braeger. So when he is back home this summer and relaxing after a tough work out session, he won’t necessarily be thinking about how he produced bucket after bucket in Wurzburg, but being reflective about other beautiful moments in Germany off the court. ‘I don’t think much about my 100 point performance. That’s in the past now and although it was awesome to achieve, it’s not my fondest memory this season. I would say my best memory coming from this season is just building lifelong friendships. Each and everyone of my teammates made me feel welcomed from the very beginning. I love my brothers for life!’, warned Jonathan Paul Braeger. One thing is certain that despite pulling a Wilt Chamberlain in Germany, many people will still love Jonathan Paul Braeger no matter how he scored 100 points. He knows it was a unique experience, but at the end of the day, he cherishes the real finer things of life developing further as a person and continuing to build his character the right way.

Jonah Radebaugh(MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg) Has Learned To Strive To Play Perfect Basketball For John Patrick

Jonah Radebaugh (190-G-1997, college: N.Colorado) is a 24 year old 190cm guard from Northglenn Colorado playing his second professional season and second with the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg. He began his professional career with the Koping Stars (Sweden-Basketligan). He began his basketball career at Northglenn high school and then played at the University of Northern Colorado from 2016-2020 playing a total of 128 NCAA games and as a senior averaged 16.5ppg, 6.3rpg, 6.5apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 51.6%, 3PT: 44.3%, FT: 78.9%. He spoke to after the 81-77 OT win against ratiopharm Ulm.

Thanks Jonah for talking to Congrats on the 81-77 win and 2-0 series lead. The first two games were like day and night in terms of scoring. Did it surprise you that game two was a lot more low scoring?

Not really. You kind of expected it. When you play a team a second time, things get more familiar. We knew more what to expect.

The game was a real tight affair and you could of won it after 40 minutes. You could of won the game with a three and then so could of Sindarius Thornwell. Ludwigsburg didn’t waste anytime in OT taking charge right away. What was key for getting the win at the end?

We knew that we had to come out and punch them in the mouth. We didn’t dwell on the misses at the end of regulation. We knew that we had worn them down and needed to bring extra energy. The big shot by Jordan Hulls helped us.

How refreshing was it to see defensive specialist Yorman Polas score 19 points? How comforting is it knowing any guy can go off on any night?

We love that. He has had some big games. When teams key in on me, Justin Simon or Jordan Hulls, we always have other guys that will step up. I don’t need to be stressed when you have guys like Yorman who can score. We have been doing it all season long.

Your playing your second season for the MHP Riesen. Last season you reached the final and this season rolling again in the playoffs. When you look back at the last 18 months, coming to Ludwigsburg was one of the best choices in your life?

I think so. I came in late to the team last season and didn’t know what to expect. The team was having a great season and it was tough adjusting. I didn’t know at first if it was the right situation and I would fit in. I really had to work on myself. But coming from a mid major school, I have always had to prove myself. Eventually I found my role. With many guys gone this season, I saw it as a big opportunity to have a bigger role.

As a hard nosed defender, coming into John Patrick’s system was perfect. What is the biggest challenge playing for him?

He does a lot of subbing especially when a player is new. It can be frustrating. Last season, if I made one mistake, I was out. I had to adjust. He made me want to play perfect basketball. Even now you know that if you do mess up, you can be thrown into the musical chairs. This is something that all guys go through.

Alba Berlin all play for each other and have fun on the court. Do you sense like that same type of culture of team togetherness is present with the MHP Riesen?

Yes it is. Everybody on this team loves to see the other have success. Seeing Yorman score a lot like tonight or seeing James Woodard come off the bench and be successful makes me happy. There is no selfishness in our culture. We just want to win.

After not winning the Basketball Champions League, is the hunger to win grown more? In what areas of the team game will the team have to keep growing in in order to make a playoff run?

We have to stay locked in on defense and take down the other teams key players. Everyone has to take on that personal challenge.

What kind of an experience has it been playing with Jordan Hulls. He recently announced that this is his last year. How contagious can his shooting be?

It has been great playing with Jordan. There were games this season where he was injured. You saw the difference on the court without him. He is a true floor general. Everybody loves playing with him and he is a great shooter. You always think that his shot will go in. With his good shooting, it gives everyone else more confidence with their shooting. We hope that that feeling of others thinking your ball will go in will happen.

How much of an inspiration has veteran Tremmell Darden been for you? Does his longevity make you think about the future and what you have to do in order to play as long as you can?

Tremmell has a lot of wisdom and you can always go to him for wisdom. I try to pick up things form him that will help me play a long time. He takes care of his body every day and is also a very nice guy.

You and Justin Simon have carried the team offensively this season. How valuable has he been for the team and what do you appreciate most about his game?

It has been great playing with him. When he isn’t on, then I will be and vice versa. He is always a helping hand, is unselfish and a great teammate. He is really good at making tough shots around the rim. I try to take some of that touch and add it to my game.

You made an incredible jump in your game from last season to this. It began in last season’s playoffs against Bamberg and then FC Bayern Munich. What happened in that period for you to be able to raise your game?

Last year I had the opportunity to play and was in the business of playing perfect. The success in the playoffs was because nobody knew who I was. The opponent keyed in on other players. I became more aggressive and I got freedom to make plays. When that works you get more confidence.

How much of an effect did the good playoff series have in you keeping your momentum and carrying it into this season?

It had a huge effect. My teammates also trusted me.

You have made a massive jump in your game this season. Your playing 14 minutes more and filling the stat sheet. Has Patrick giving you total freedom and you working hard to keep improving been the secret equation or has there been more to you having this success?

Yes I have more freedom this season. I have more freedom to make mistakes and plays. It is no fun playing on needles. I believe my game was able to shine because of the freedom I got. Also continuing to work hard on my game was important.

You averaged 6,0apg as a senior in the NCAA. You haven’t averaged more than 3,0apg as a pro. Is continuing to grow as a facilitator a part of your game you want to continue to work on?

There is a fine line between being aggressive and getting your team involved at the same time. I have had some good and bad assist games this season. Key is being aggressive and not forcing it. Last season no one keyed in on me. This season guys are keying in more on me and I have to find open guys more.

You began your rookie season with the Koping Stars (Sweden-Basketligan) averaging 11.1ppg, 6.6rpg, 3.2apg, 2.1spg, FGP: 49.3%, 3PT: 35.3%, FT: 81.8%. What do you remember being your wake up call to being overseas where you knew that you were very far away from home?

I think my wake up call was setting my alarm clock for 4Am so I could see the NBA finals. Back home I was used to seeing it at night at 8 or 9pm. It made me realize that I was across the world. But I had to see the NBA finals. It was a priority.

You played at the University of North Colorado (NCAA) from 2016-2020. Was winning the CIT title your fondest moment there?

Yes that was definitely my biggest moment. Not many teams experience winning a title at the college level. It is something that I will never forget.

You made a huge leap in your senior year in your game. How do you feel did your game develop most in your senior year?

A few games into my senior year, my point guard got injured. So they made the decision for me to become the primary ball handler. That is when my game took off. But I was ready. I had watched other guys make plays so coming in and taking on that role was easier. Key was that my teammates and coach trusted me. I had to make the freedom to make plays and we lived with it. I also worked hard coming into my senior year because I wanted a big year after not such a good junior year.

You had memorable games against Portland State and Denver. What was your favorite game in your college career?

The Portland State was my most memorable game. I almost had 30 points. After that game my teammates called me 30 point Radebaugh. I had been in a shooting slump coming in and then I exploded. I saw all my hard work pay off.

How did head coach Jeff Linder groom and prepare you best for a professional career?

Coach Linder was hard on us. He really pushed us towards his expectations. He made practices very hard, but in games he trusted us and let us make plays and mistakes. He is a very good coach and I loved playing for him.

Who won a one on one in practice you or Trent Harris?

I won. We called him John Gotti. He was a very good shooter but I won those games.

Who was the toughest player that you faced in the NCAA that went to the NBA?

Lari Markkanen was the toughest player. We almost beat him and Arizona that had guys like Bonn MVP Parker Jackson-Cartwright, my current teammate Rawle Alkins and Alonzo Trier.

Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?

Jordan Davis, Barry Brown, Desi Rodriguez, Jaleen Smith, Justin Simon.

Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads?

Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Kareem, Kevin Durant

What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Jordan or Lebron?


Did you see the sequel to the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?

Yes they should of.

Thanks Jonah for the chat.

Spencer Reaves Showed More Than Just Scoring In Leverkusen Being Able To Develop His Leadership and Playmaking Further

Foto credit Frank Fankhauser

Spencer Reaves (191-G-1995, college: Central Mo., agency: One Motive Sports) is a 26 year old 191cm guard from Newark, Arkansas that finsihed his fourth professional season and first in Germany with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen averaging 14.5ppg, 1.9rpg, 3.4apg, FGP: 58.1%, 3PT: 43.9%, FT: 85.7%. He played his first three professional seasons in Spain with Azpeitia Juaristi Iraurgi Saski Baloia (Spain-LEB Silver) and UBU Tizona Burgos (Spain-LEB Gold). He began his basketball career with / Cedar Ridge High School and then played a season with North Greenville University (NCAA2). He then finished at the University of Central Missouri (NCAA2) from 2015-2018 playing a total of 85 games averaging 12.3ppg, 2.5rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 42.6%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 83.5% in his second season, 17.0ppg, 4.2rpg, 2.8apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 59.9%, 3PT: 39.0%, FT: 85.4% as a junior and17.0ppg, 5.2rpg, 2.0apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 51.9%, 3PT: 44.2%, FT: 88.6% as a senior. He spoke to after the completion of his fourth professional season.

Thanks Spencer for talking Your first season in Germany with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen has ended. How tough was it being swept by the Tigers Tuebingen?

It’s never easy to lose a series, especially being swept, but you have to give a ton of credit to Tubingen. They have been the best team all year and it showed with the last 3 games.

Is this one of those series that will take longer to digest or have you been able to put it by you?

I try to put everything on a 24 hour rule. Be mad, upset, happy about something for 24 hours then throw all the emotions away. You can’t let emotions of something fog your thinking for that long.

The Bayer Giants Leverkusen were so pumped after the exciting Trier win. Did Leverkusen peak during the Trier series?

I wouldn’t say we peaked against Trier. We were able to put together 3 good games in a row, which is important in the playoffs. We played most of the Tuebingen series without a PG which is never easy.

How vital was it losing game one 85-83 to Tuebingen? Do you feel like that loss effected the team mentally?

It hurt. I felt like we made too many mistakes to win that game though. And we still had a shot at the end.

In game two and game three Leverkusen had combined 41 turnovers. Was that the biggest reason for not being able to turn it around?

We didn’t have a real PG the last two games. Both went out with injuries so it’s trying to piece different things together to try to find something that works. Unfortunately for us, it didn’t.

You had an ok series but was pretty much wrapped up well in game three. You had 8 turnovers combined in the last two games. You had had only 7 turnovers combined in the previous 10 games. How much of the blame do you take?

I of course will take blame for any losses we have. I consider myself a leader and when you don’t win a game, there has to be reasons. I’ll take blame and work to improve so it doesn’t happen again.

When looking back at the season is this one of those seasons where the club could of achieved more considering the talent that it had? What is your summary of the season?

I would say it was a successful season here in Leverkusen. I fully believe we give ourselves a chance to win this series without all the injuries that have happened recently. But we are a Top 4 team in the Pro A, 14 other teams can’t say that.

How much of a pleasure was it playing with German Luis Figge who has BBL experience? What did you learn to appreciate most about his game?

It was great. Team was built and constructed with a lot of great human beings as well as basketball players. I really enjoyed seeing Figge’s ability to affect the game on the defensive end.

You shared the back court with Quentin Goodin. How did you experience his hunger to keep moving up the basketball ladder? Is he a guy you see making the next step?

He’s great. He is definitely a guy I see making the next step up the ladder. He’s a competitor and will do everything he can for the team to win and be successful. He will make whatever team he signs for next better.

Who made the biggest strides in the development from the young German’s on the squad? It’s really hard to pick one guy.

I feel like each of our young guys improved in different ways. And were all about to help the team win games. Can’t wait to continue to watch them develop.

You averaged 14.5ppg, 1.9rpg, 3.4apg, FGP: 58.1%, 3PT: 43.9%, FT: 85.7%. How content were you with your first season in the German Pro A?

Numbers are one thing but those wouldn’t mean anything without the amount of winning we were able to do here in Leverkusen. This was my first playoff experiences in this format and I’m happy we got to win a lot of games.

You had had solid seasons in the Spanish third and second divisions. But would you agree that this season in Germany was your best season as a professional?

I would say so. I think I was able to show more than just scoring this season as a leader, teammate and playmaker than in years before.

You were a scorer and a leader on a successful team. How do you feel did your game grow this season in the German Pro A?

Well I had great guys and teammates around me. I got to have fun every single day with practice and then games where the pressure is extremely low. I got to only worry about basketball and not other things that might be distractions with this team. And for that I am very thankful and appreciative.

Despite having a massive 28 points game with 8 three’s against Artland early in the season, you had a slow start. From December until the end. You scored in double figures in 26 of 27 games. Do you feel that your ready for the next step?

I believe that I am. We will see what comes in the next weeks, especially passport wise for me. And then me and my agent Drew will discuss all of the options. But making the next step is definitely a goal of mine.

What is the next step for you? I can imagine you will get some offers from BBL teams. Is Germany a place you would like to remain in?

I’m not sure yet. It’s early as of now. Just want to take a little time off and see what kind of interests Roll in. I loved Germany this season though and would love to come back to play in this country.

On what area’s of your game will you be working on most this summer so you will be ready for another potent season in 2022-2023?

I know I’ll need to really work on certain movements because if I make the step up, the speed will be completely different. But also just continue to work on my overall game so I can do whatever a team needs from me.

You had many nice memories on the court, but what was your fondest moment off the court where you really got to know the culture of Germany?

Probably when I went to Karneval in Koeln. Crazy amount of people and the atmosphere was so different than anywhere I had been before.

Who will reach the NBA final and win it all?

I think it will be Bucks/Suns rematch. With the Suns winning it.

Thanks Spencer for the chat.

Playing Pick And Roll With Amare Stoudemire And Finding Him Was An Unbelievable Experience for Tamir Blatt(Alba Berlin)

Tamir Blatt (184-PG-1997) is a 25 year old 183cm point guard form Israel that is playing his first season in Germany for easyCredit BBL team Alba Berlin. He played the last three years for Hapoel Jerusalem. Before that he played with Hapoel Tel Aviv and Hapoel Holon. The son of famous head coach David Blatt is also a Israeli national player. He spoke to after the 97-85 game two win over Brose Bamberg.

Thanks Tamir for talking to Congrats on the 97-85 win over Brose Bamberg and comfortable 2-0 series 10 years ago Alba-Bamberg was a brutal rivalry. Now Alba Berlin continues to be at the top and Bamberg has been struggling the last years. Are you aware of the history of the two teams?

Yes for sure. I had heard that Bamberg had been the top team in the BBL some years ago. They won a lot of titles. Now Alba Berlin is the top team. We did a good job protecting our home court against Bamberg. I’m happy that we got the wins and hope it continues.

After a up and down first quarter, Alba Berlin took control in the second quarter getting amazing offensive support from Jaleen Smith and Maodo Lo. How satisfying is it not always having to deal with pressure coming from the bench when they are able to produce so well?

Yes for sure. Both are great players and teammates. We are like a big family with Alba Berlin. We always support each other and want that the other does well. The most important thing for us is to enjoy ourselves on the court.

Alba Berlin kept up the offensive pressure in the third quarter, but also allowed 27 points. Alba Berlin has allowed 87 points on average in the two games. Is the team aware it still needs to up their defensive performance in the playoffs?

Yes for sure. The games have been high paced against Bamberg and a lot of possessions and points. Both teams have very skilled offensive players. We will continue to watch film to correct our mistakes.

Alba Berlin did a super job not letting Bamberg get over the hump in the fourth quarter. What was key for Alba Berlin to be able to close out he game in fine fashion?

We did a good job bearing down on defense and staying focused. On offense we continued to get into good position and work to get good looks and keep scoring.

Alba Berlin demonstrated again that even without Luke Sikma and Ben Lammers, it is able to compensate their absences. Is a total awareness of your roles and consistency one of the biggest strengths of this team?

Every player has to be ready at all times. In some games you might play more and in others less. You have to always be ready to give everything for the team success.

You have proven in young years that you understand what it means to be a good playmaker. Have you learned anything additional about passing from veteran Luke Sikma that you didn’t know before?

I don’t thing that it is something specific about passing. We play different positions and see different things on the court. I can always learn things from him. He is a great leader and teammate.

What has it been like being teammates with Yovel Zoosman? He said this about you to me recently. ‘Yes it has helped him being here and I hope the same for him with me. This is the first time that we are in a new culture. We have been together a lot before coming to Berlin where we were roommates during youth national team times and now are also roommates with Alba Berlin. We spend a lot of time together and it makes it easier for us to enjoy the team and be who we are for the team. When you feel down or weird about something then you feel happy that you can talk to someone from another perspective’. You have known each other for a long time. What do you appreciate most about him?

Yovel and I go way back. We have known each other since we were 17 years old and were roommates with the youth national teams. He is a good friend and we learn a lot from each other. Of course having him here with me made the adjustment a lot easier. This was our first steps out of Israel. Going to a different country for the first time isn’t easy. It is nice to have somebody around that you can talk to in your language.

Your playing your first season with Alba Berlin. What kind of an experience has it been playing for Alba Berlin? How have you experienced the culture of the organization?

Playing for Alba Berlin has been a great experience. Coming to Germany was a big adjustment at first when you played your whole career in Israel. But they welcomed me with open arms right from the start. They are a unique organization that know how to approach everything day by day. There have been ups and downs this season, but I feel that I have matured as a player and person. I also have been able to stay stable mentally through the downs.

What kind of an adjustment has it been coming form the Basketball Champions League to the Euroleague? What was the biggest challenge that you had to face?

The Euroleague is the best league in Europe where the level is very high at both ends of the court. It has been a dream come true being able to play Euroleague and a lot of fun. I hope that it continues for many more years.

You played a lot more minutes with Hapoel Jerusalem the last years. How challenging has it been attempting to be efficient for the time you get?

It has been a big adjustment playing less minutes this season. I came from a situation where I was the main point guard and had the ball in my hands a lot. Plus it was a different system. I knew that I wouldn’t be a starter and would have to be as efficient as possible in the minutes I get. I feel that I have found my way in the last two months where I have shown I can be efficient.

In your last 3 seasons in the Israeli Winner League you averaged around 6 assists a season. What do you need to do as a floor general to reach a new level in your game?

I think key will be just continuing to work hard and being smart will help me develop. I think also the more situations I get in games the more I will improve. I just want to continue to go my path and develop.

You never have been that explosive scorer and defensively a guy who still has a lot of potential. What do you need to do to raise your game in these areas?

Coming to Alba Berlin was good on helping me further develop as a defender. They work a lot on the defensive end. I have learned to be in better position and use my hands more. I also have gotten better being aware of things happening on the court. I think I have been able to implement a lot of what I have worked on in practice in games. I feel I have taken a step up as a defender. On offense there are some games where I will score more and other games where I will be more of a facilitator. Every game has a life of it’s own.

You are a player that has experienced some teams in Israeli. Why didn’t you ever land with Maccabi Tel Aviv considering having a well known basketball figure like your dad?

I don’t know. My goal was always to get out of Israel. Coming to Alba was a no brainer. This is the path I chose and I’m really happy about it.

How important has your dad David Blatt been for your basketball career? Do you feel like you would have been different as a player had you not had a basketball coach as a father?

It has been such a blessing to be able to have a dad that has so much knowledge of the game. We talk everyday. We always gives me different ideas to think about. I have no complaints.

You played your first game against Maccabi Tel Aviv as an 18 year old in 2015. What memories do you have seeing guys like baby Shaq and Jeremy Pargo?

I have had many crazy games in my career from watching them when they played for my dad and then playing against them. That game was one of them

How important were your three years at Hapoel Tel Aviv from 2014-2017? You made a huge jump in your game in your third season

They were the first organization that gave me a chance to play in the first division of Israel. I am forever thankful for their trust in me at age 17. I took a big step in my career there. I really began to work very hard on my game and got stronger physically. I got more disciplined and have been having this attitude up until now. I got more minutes and was able to show what I can do.

You played with so many veterans there like Alando Tucker or Robert Rothbart. Was there a player in that time that really inspired you?

I played with many great players. In my second season when I averaged 15 minutes a game we made a big run. I had teammates like Nate Robinson and Tre Simmons. We lost in the last seconds in game five. But we had a great group of guys and really connected.

You then played a season with Hapoel Holon. Was the guard rotation a big bog that made it hard to get more minutes?

Playing with Hapoel Holon was a good experience. I really grew here as well and got more experience. It was the first time I played BCL. We had ups and downs, but we won the cup. I always put goals to play for winning programs. I also was MVP of the game in a game 5 playoff game that we lost.

Yovel Zoosman described Guy Pnini being a legend. How do you remember your time with him there? Was he a guy that took you under his wing?

Guy Pnini is for sure a living legend. I experience him a bit different than Yovel. I watched him play for my dad and win the Euroleague with 15 and 5 years later I played with him. We won a cup together. It was an unbelievable experience. We still have good connection today. He is one of Israel’s greats to this day.

You played the last three seasons with Hapoel Jerusalem winning 3 league cups. Which one was the sweetest?

Winning the second one was the sweetest. We won the one on our home court with 11,000 watching., That was really special.

Here you also played with incredible veterans including Amare Stoudemire. Did a young Israeli guy become in awe or were you able to stay professional and just enjoy the experience?

In the beginning it was a big deal, but then we began to get to know each other. We sat next to each other in the locker room. Playing pick and roll with him and finding him was an unbelievable experience knowing he played with some of the greatest point guards like Steve Nash.

Last season you had a 20/14 game beating Maccabi Tel Aviv 83-82. How memorable is a game like that? You haven’t beat them often in your career?

I would say this game was top 5 in my career. We didn’t have a lot of Americans left on the team, because there was a war going on. They didn’t feel safe and the club respected that. Nobody believed that we could win this game. This was an unbelievable game for me.

What are the chances of Israel at the Euro 2022 and how competitive will Israel be?

We have a great group of guys that have been together for some years. I like our chances. I feel that we can have a good tournament. I’m really excited.

Who is the toughest player that you ever faced on the floor so far in your career?

I think Dennis Schroeder. Yovel and me played against him and Germany in 2018 in a qualifying game. We had good games. We lost in OT against Germany.

Please name your five best teammates of all-time?

That is difficult. I had so many with guys like Nate Robinson, Amare Stoudemire and Guy Pnini.

Please name your NBA Mount Rushmore of point guards.

Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Derrick Rose and Fred Van Vleet

What is your opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all time Jordan or Lebron?

I never talk about it when people are debating it. I have no opinion on it.

What was the last movie that you saw?

Beautiful Mind

Thanks Tamir for the chat.