The first semi final in the 2010 BEKO BBL Top 4 pits the Brose Baskets Bamberg against BG Goettingen as both clubs have faced each other 10 times in the last 18 months making the distance of 286 autobahn kilometers seem like their own German subway series similar to the New York Yankees-New York Mets series and making the frequency of their meetings going down the same path as NBA legend Allen Iverson did with his love for say ing practice in a press conference a few years ago. The Brose Baskets and BG Goettingen will square off in the first BEKO BBL Top 4 semi final on April 10th at 16.25 while The Deutsche Bank Skyliners face off against The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven in the second semi final at 19:15.
The Brose Baskets Bamberg lead the head to head series since the 2007-2008 season winning eight games and losing only four games. Last season, after BG Goettingen was one of the top teams in the BBL and big surprises, their 40 minutes of basketball hell lost their strength in the playoffs running out of gas losing the quarterfinal playoff series 3-1. This season, the teams have split the season series winning their respective games at home.
The Brose Baskets Bamberg last won the BBL title in 2007 and in the second year under coach Chris Fleming, the club had some problems finding their rhythm in the first few months, but have steadily lifted their game in the last few months. The team started off cold losing six of their first eight games including an embarrassing 62-44 loss at home against 8 time BEKO BBL champion Alba Berlin and losing to new BBL club MBC. However since then the club has been extremely solid posting a 17-5 record and riding in 5th place, but could still make a move into the higher places down the stretch with their strong roster and play for the title.
“Bamberg have good shooters and I think that they are one of the deepest teams in the league with no weaknesses with the first 10 players. I think that they can be a title team. In a five game series, they will be very tough to beat”, stressed Quentin Pryor.
One problem might be that they have had problems beating top teams posting only a 5-7 record against teams like Alba Berlin, Bonn, Frankfurt, BG Goettingen, Artland Dragons, Bremerhaven and EWE Baskets Oldenburg.
“I honestly have no idea why Bamberg is having problems beating the top teams. They have a very good team and good players. Regardless of what their record states, they can beat any team on any given night”, warned BG Goettingen forward Chris Oliver.
“I think that it just has to do with the little things. Teams have been able to hurt us in different ways. I don´t think that it is a lack of talent, but it is more like missing a key rebound or a hustle play. We just haven´t been doing the little things to win against the top teams”, added Brian Roberts.
However Bamberg can be totally unpredictable as well.
“They can beat any team on any night, but also lose to any team on any given night”, stressed Ehingen center Ruben Spoden.
Currently Bamberg is in fifth place and would face BG Goettingen if the playoffs started tomorrow. Bamberg still has a very rest schedule playing against lower ranked teams Giessen, Paderborn and TBB Trier
The Brose Baskets Bamberg are the fifth highest scoring team in the BEKO BBL averaging 78 points per game. They have scored 80 points or more 11 times this season. They have a very solid scoring team and good 11 man rotation. They may only have three players averaging double figure stats, but this is another club that has many players that can step up on any day and score and give production even from the bench. The team is led by 32 year old Serb Predrag Suput who belongs to the top players in the BEKO BBL and is in the shadow of other top players in Germany like Ricky Paulding and Immanuel Mcelroy, but in Bamberg country is easily seen as their basketball Messi version. Suput is averaging 14,6ppg, 4,8rpg and 1,8 apg. He is known for taking the opponents defenses apart at anytime during the duration of a game. With Americans Brian Roberts(21 games in double figures) and ex NBA player Casey Jacobson, the team has two very talented wing players that can score in bunches and kill you from outside. Recently the team got talented point guard Anton Gavel who had played in Spain and has shown his scoring touch in the last weeks and is averaging 8,9ppg, 2,4rpg and 2,1apg. American Elton Brown is a wide body that is a workhorse and is averaging 8,6ppg and 4,9rpg. German wunderkind Tibor Pleiss has made big strides since the 2009 European Championships is averaging 7,6ppg and 5,4rpg. American John Goldsberry is playing his fourth year in Germany and is a very durable point guard averaging 6,1ppg, 1,5rpg and 3,0apg. He once had 10 steals in the BEKO BBL and knows how to run a team. The combination of Goldsberry/Gavel very well are the most underrated point guard duo in the BEKO BBL: The team also has very versatile players from the bench with ex Skyliner and 2004 BBL champion Robert Garrett, American Mark Worthington who arrived seven weeks ago and is averaging 4,5ppg and 2,3rpg and is the prefect guy to come off the bench to create added chaos inside and outside with his offense, American Beckham Wyrick, who always gives 100% and is very physical and young talented German Karsten Tadda who is an aggressive defender and will break out very soon.
This season, the BEKO BBL has so many strong teams, but not every club has a deep roster. The three clubs with the deepest rosters have to be Alba Berlin, Artland Dragons and The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven. MEG Goettingen reached the playoffs last season, but lost top players Kyle Bailey, Rocky Trice and Charles Lee. This season, the team is not as strong as last season on paper and have so superstar presently, but have one in the making with American Charles Oliver. The team has many young players, but the club has found the right page early in the season winning games in the BEKO BBL and their first two games in the Eurochallenge. Many teams have had bad experiences with MEG Goettingen this season especially The Paderborn Baskets who got routed 97-70.
“It is so hard to prepare against MEG Goettingen who pressure you non stop for 40 minutes. I didn´t think it would be like them when we played them, but it felt like we were playing 8-5, because they were everywhere on the court. A team should prepare by playing 7 or 8 on 5 in practice or just have patience and break their press. Once you beat their pressure then you will be ok and then you have to try to execute the offense”, warned American Deandre Haynes of The Paderborn Baskets.
Even though that MEG Goettingen has no real star, they have 12 guys that can play.
“MEG Goettingen plays well as a team. You can´t prepare for just one player, because every guy is a threat at any given time. They have so many players that can score 15 points, so its hard to prepare for that”, stressed ex Giessen 46er guard Ricky Hickman.
A team has to be mentally tough and be smart on the court when playing MEG Goettingen.
“A team really has to let their mind wonder how they have to stop this team, since you can´t focus on just one player. A team has to test their mental toughness with MEG Goettingen. If Frankfurt doesn´t focus and put the team away early, then they can cause trouble late in the game”, warned ex Nordlingen forward Omari Westley.
Last season, MEG Goettingen were the big surprise team of the season leading the standings for many months as teams were unable to adjust to their 40 minutes of basketball hell. They lost in the first round of the playoffs against The Brose Baskets Bamberg without Kyle Bailey and Charles Lee. Even after the very strong season last season, it seems like the club is celebrating a new kind of BG Goettingen type of Cinderella season as they have the chance to win three titles with the German Cup, Eurochallenge, and the BEKO BBL title. They have been very dominant in the Eurochallenge and will host the Final four in a few weeks as all of Germany will be crossing their fingers for the first international win for a German team since the 2004 Fiba Cup win by MBC. Currently BG Goettingen is in fourth place and have won their league games and Eurochallenge games the last weeks despite not having the services of Americans Dwayne Anderson, Ben Jacobson and Chester Frazier. This season, the club has had winning streaks of nine games and five games. This season, the team has beat top clubs like Oldenburg, Berlin, Bonn and Bamberg. Their secret of their success is their style of play which is hard and aggressive for 40 minutes. Last season, their energy tank was low in the playoffs and the question is how far they can go this year with key injuries in the stretch run and playoffs?
BG Goettingen scores the most points in the BEKO BBL, which is a bit surprising since on paper, one would not necessarily think that they would be capable of scoring so many points each week, but they do. They have scored 80 points or more 16 times. This is a team that has a solid 11 man roster and the club has proved time in and time out that a different guy can step up each night. The team has had six different top scorers this season with ex Washington State guard Taylor Rochestie leading the charge in 9 games. The team has four main scoring options, but two of them with Ben Jacobson and Dwayne Anderson are injured and gives the team a lot less depth in scoring especially in crunch time of games. Rochestie leads the team in scoring with 14.9ppg, 2,6rpg and 2,7apg. He has had a great rookie season taking over games with his scoring as who could forget him drooping big shots in the last minutes of a win in Berlin in December. If called upon to create, he will do and really hurt teams. North Carolina native Chris Oliver is averaging 14,2ppg, 6,2rpg and 1,3apg. He missed three games and was not totally fit for a few months, but he seems to be back to 100% and could be a big thorn in the side of Bamberg this weekend. One of the big surprises has been American rookie Dwayne Anderson from Silver Spring Maryland. He is averaging 11,5ppg, 4,7rpg and 1,0apg. He has had a great season being the teams leading scorer in six games. If there was a BG Goettingen unsung hero award then he would deserve to get it. His big strength has been his rebounding success and tenacity. He has missed the last six BBL games due to an injury and has been dearly missed and wont return this season.
American Ben Jacobson from Iowa is playing his third season in Goettingen and is averaging 10,1ppg, 3,3rpg and 3,0apg. He is your classic scoring point guard that can also do the playmaking with efficiency. He missed the last two games and will be missed if he doesn´t return from injury. One of the biggest surprises ahs been 24 year old 198cm power forward/center Jason Boone from Sugar Loaf, New York is playing his third season with Goettingen. Two years ago, he made the jump form the Regionalliga to the BBL, which is similar as if a professional baseball player jumped from A ball to MLB. Since he has arrived to the BBL, he has continued to develop and his minutes have risen from 12 to 16 to 21 minutes. This season, he is averaging 9,7ppg and 6,6rpg.
“Jason Boone is a strong athlete who likes to finish around the rim and is not a shooter at all. One should give him the jump shot and don’t let him penetrate. He is a strong offensive rebounder and goes to the boards each time. He isn´t a good free throw shooter and don’t give him any easy layups. One should attack him on defense and despite his athletic body, doesn´t move his feet so well and he is foul prone”, stressed Omari Westley.
“Boone is probably one of the strongest low post players in the BBL. He can move anybody with his strength down low”, added Ricky Hickman.
27 year old 211cm center Christopher Mcnaughton who comes from Leutershausen is playing his first season with MEG Goettingen. He likes playing with his back to the basket, but doesn´t really have good mobility for his size. He is averaging 7,0ppg and 2,9 rpg. Last season, he played for Faymasa Palencia playing 29 games and averaging 10.4ppg, 5.1rpg, FGP: 59.6%, FT: 72.8%. He won the league LEB Silver and cup title. John Little is a 25 year old 180cm guard from Peoria, Illinois. He is playing his second season with MEG Goettingen. He played at Northern Iowa from 2002-2006. In 2007-2008, he wanted to play for the Peoria Kings of the ABA league, but the team folded, so he returned to Northern Iowa and finished the season as assistant coach. This season, he is averaging 6,5ppg, 2,4rpg and 1,1apg.
“Little is their energy guy. He brings a lot of energy and athletic ability from the bench. He doesn´t have much of a shot and likes to drive to the hoop and finish at the rim. He is a good rebounder for his size. He is possibly the best defender on the team. He has long arms and plays the passing lanes well and is their best on ball defender”, stressed Omari Westley.
“He is probably one of the scrappiest players in the league and always plays hard and gives 100% every minute on the court”, added Ricky Hickman.
BEKO BBL rookie Chester Frazier who missed the last two games due to injury finished his career ranked sixth on the Illinois career assists list with 484. He was of the top defenders in the Big Ten conference and has brought the same aggressiveness on the defensive end to Goettingen. This season, he is averaging ppg 6,2ppg, 3,5rpg, and 1,4apg
23 year old 191cm guard Robert Kulawick is playing his second season in Goettingen. He started his basketball career at TUS Lichterfelde in 2003 and also played for Alba Berlin from 2004-2006 playing 14 BBL games, three ULEB Cup games and winning the BBL cup in 2006. After playing with The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven in 2006-2007, he crossed the boarder into Holland and played for Den Helder Seals playing 34 games averaging 7.9ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.3apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 42.2%, 3PT: 39.7%, FT: 84.6%. Already last season, one could see the confidence of John Patrick in the German letting him average 10 minutes per game, but this season, he has hatched averaging 17 minutes and has been a energy spark plug on the court. He is averaging 4,7ppg and 1,4rpg. He has been a member of the German U-18 and U-20 teams the last years and if he keeps developing the way he does, then German National coach Dirk Bauermann will have to invite him to the German National team some day. The team picked up 27 year old American Antoine Jordan a few months ago as insurance at the guard position. He is a 198cm guard that can rebound with the best of them at his height. He averaged 8,1rebounds in hiss enior year at Siena. This season, he is averaging 4,3ppg and 2,1rpg in 11 minutes per game. Recently, he stepped ups coring 15 points in a road loss in bamberg The team recently picked up 37 year old 207cm power forward Michael Meeks who was born in Jamaica, but has the Canadian/American citizenship. He is fast for his size and is a great jumper with good timing. Has a nice jump shot from the top of the key. When posting up low he likes to finish with a dunk. The switching of positions and his speed makes him very dangerous in offense. On the defensive side he impresses with his shot blocking. He can hit the three pointer. He played at Canisius from 1992-1996. Since then he has had a long and successful basketball career having played in Countries like Italy, France, Turkey, Croatia, Czech Republic and Germany. He played for Brandt Hagen and The Telekom Baskets Bonn. He played at the 1998 and 2002 World Championships for Canada with NBA star Steve Nash and at the Olympics in Sydney in 2000, where he was the tournaments fifth best scorer averaging 14,3ppg. He was picked up to help bulk up the team with the heavy Eurochallenge schedule. He is averaging 3,1ppg and 1,5rpg in 8,23 minutes per game. He scored 16 points against Braunschweig.
When breaking down the two teams with certain aspects of the upcoming game, one would have to give the edge to The Brose Baskets Bamberg on offense. Bamberg simply has more threats on the court. Bamberg has simply too many great shooters form the perimeter. BG Goettingen will have to be alert if Bamberg gets around their full court press and contest as many shots as possible in the half court defense. BG Goettingen are excellent in creating offense from their defense, which might even be the best in the BEKO BBL. They may have to slow their offense down a bit on offense just to be alive in crunch time due to their injuries.
On defense, BG Goettingen clearly has the edge. They have held opponents to under 70 points 13 times this season. They have a very active defense that runs and presses all game long. It is no secret that teams in the Eurochallenge were surprised with their style and couldn´t prepare for it, but even in the BEKO BBL, it gives teams problems every week. The Brose Baskets Bamberg also have a very solid, active and physical defense in the halfcourt. They have allowed the opponent to 70 points or less in 12 games this season. The leader on defense is John Goldsberry who will come out of nowhere and bring the opponent out of their offense set rhythm.
The Brose Baskets Bamberg have the edge with experience. BG Goettingen has injuries and are playing their first big tournament. The most experienced BG Goettingen player is Michael Meeks, but he doesn´t play much, while The Brose Baskets Bamberg have experienced guys like Casey Jacobson, Elton Brown, and Robert Garrett. The X factor for The Brose Baskets Bamberg could be American Brian Roberts who has scored in double figures 21 times and can score a lot and quick. For BG Goettingen, it may be the minister of the Goettingen defense with scrappy John Little. He is a quick good defender who has shown that he can score and plays for the team. A key match up will be Chris Oliver/Bamberg player. It will be interesting who gets the call to defend him, but it will likely be Casey Jacobson who is more athletic then a Predrag Suput who is not known as being the most mobile defender. Oliver may become a big problem for the Bamberg defense, because he can go inside or out. However, Bamberg is known for playing good team defense, so they will think of something to contain Oliver. Another key matchup will be Brian Roberts against Taylor Rochestie. They are both game changers with their offense. Whoever gets hot first will be key in winning the game. The coaching edge goes to Chris Fleming of Bamberg over John Patrick of BG Goettingen. Fleming won his first title in 2008 in Hamburg with the Artland Dragans as they took home the cup back to Quackenbruck. Patrick will be under pressure with all his injuries to make adjustments and find a plan to win as Fleming goes into the tournament as the favourite.
This will be a game of extremes with the quick run and gun play of BG Goettingen against the strong sound half court game of the Brose Baskets Bamberg. Bamberg has to find a way to somehow handle the BG Goettingen pressure defense and slow them down. If they get into a running match, then they will be playing into the cards of BG Goettingen which they don´t want to do. BG Goettingen will want to play their style of game and speed Bamberg up as much as possible and force them to take quick shots and they can´t let Brown/Pleiss get post touches. It will be interesting to see how these two clubs battle on neutral ground and if Bamberg does not fall victim to underestimating the injury plague of BG Goettingen. BG Goettingen meet The Brose Baskets Bamberg on Saturday April 10th at 16:25 in the Ballsporthalle in Frankfurt.