Can The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven Maneuver Into the Beko BBL Playoffs?

After the surprising entry to the BBL in 2005 for the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven, reaching the playoffs in the first three years seemed as simple for the club like a zoo keeper feeding a malnourished polar bear, Chris Paul mowing down the competition and winning the 2013 NBA allstar MVP award instead of Kobe, Lebron or Kevin or Kenny Frease winning any gum chewing contest in the world. With players like Adam Chubb, FC Barcelona forward Judson Wallace, Nick Jacobson or Zygimantas Jonusas, the team was able to reach the promised land each season. However in the last 4 years, the club has only reached the playoffs once and even finished in 18th place in 2009 despite having  a Marcus Slaughter shortly before his brat wurst affair. The team continues to get potent players; but due to the league becoming more competitive the last years, they have been enjoying May in the café instead of on the court. This season the team brought in Jacob Burtschi who is the typical glue guy that would jump into the first row to save a loose ball even if it meant falling into a pit bull. Last season, the Fraport Skyliners almost reached the playoffs after a massive turnaround in the second half where the Oklahoma native had a huge part in. If the team is too make a run for the playoffs then there is no better player than Burtschi to lead them as he has the whole package on the court and is able to infect his team positively with his playing style and his character. He is just a player that you have to love. It isn´t just what he accomplishes on the court, but also off the court which gets teammates to just feel comfortable with him. Times are tough now, and those are the situations where a captain has to insert those special qualities. At the moment Bremerhaven is more involved with getting away from the lower places in the standings as they have one win more than the 16 and 17th placed team, but are only two wins away from the playoff position eighth place. With five of the last eight games at home and a pretty lenient schedule, they will need as many wins as possible to reach the promised land.

This season the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven did a full face lift as they only kept young players and back up point guard Anthony Canty and Jermaine Raffington releasing nine players and signing eight new players. Doug Spradley who has been known for being very picky about his point guards having replaced them in recent years the same way Paris Hilton does sunglasses. He has been known for not only having to hear from player agents how incredible the player is but also calls the players himself. He spoke with new point guard Stanley Burrell 8-10 times before knowing that he was the right choice. “I need to have a good relationship with my point guard. He plays hard and wants to win”, stressed Eisbaeren Bremerhaven head coach Doug Spradley. The team got talented German national player Philipp Zwiener who made the next step with TBB Trier and now is more or less the identification figure on the team. The team also added shooting power at the wing with Alex Harris who had two strong seasons in Ludwigsburg. Stanley Burrell is the new point guard who has European experience playing in Belgium and had  a strong season in Poland last season.  The team recently picked up Stefon Jackson who also played in Belgium the last years and had double figure point totals in Eurochallenge play. The glue guy will be Jacob Burtschi who is currently the teams top rebounder. The team picked up hot shooter Justin Stommes who comes for the PRO A and has adjusted nicely to the Beko BBL so far. The club also has a strong big man tandem with Scott Morrison and Keith Waleskowski. Morrison has extensive experience in Europe and wont shy to go there where it hurts as he experienced in a Giessen rout breaking his nose. Waleskowski is a solid man form the bench that gives valuable minutes and he played in Spain and Italy for years. The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven will be very strong at the position 1-3 and will play a more aggressive fast style. Despite the slow start, the roles seemed to be clearly evident in the Giessen win. “Doug Spradley likes to play aggressive defense. He is very disciplined and always does intense scouting. Bremerhaven plays disruptive defense as they like to destroy the opponents offense. He likes to practice automatic and counters. He is always thinking how the team will react when something is taken away”, warned Steven Clauss.

Since The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven entered the BBL in 2005-2006, they have had some interesting battles with The Skyliners. Bremerhaven have had the number of Frankfurt in the first four season posting a 6-3 record. In the first two seasons, Bremerhaven totally dominated Frankfurt with a 4-0 record. Who could forget the stunning 89-88 Bremerhaven win in their first meeting ever in the fall of 2005 as Brian Jones won the game with a buzzer beater. The Eisbaeren won the return date in Bremerhaven 94-78 as ex Skyliner Nino Garris played one of his few good games for Frankfurt dropping 20 points. However in the 2007-2009 seasons, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners have had a positive record of 3-2 and were 2-2 at home. The curious thing is that the two games at home were decided by one point. In the 2007-2008 season, Frankfurt lost 82-81 in the Ballsporthalle and last season Frankfurt nipped Bremerhaven 66-65 with 16 points and 11 rebounds from ex Skyliner Lorenzo Gordon. In the 2009-2010 season, both clubs played seven games including five games in the playoffs. Frankfurt won the season series 4-3 last season posting a 2-1 record in the Ballsporthalle and posting a 2-2 record in Bremerhaven. The two wins at home remain unforgettable as Frankfurt won the season game 70-69 as Pascal Roller led the charge with 15 points and game two 84-83 as Aubrey Reese poured in 18 points. In the 2010-2011, Frankfurt won 81-66 at home as Dashaun Wood and AJ Moye led the charge with 19 points a piece and they also won in Bremerhaven 71-56 as Dashaun Wood had a Lebron James type game with 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Since the Eisbaeren entered the Beko BBL in 2005, the series between both teams jha steh Eisbaeren Bremerhavne with the 11-9 advantage. In the first meeting this season, the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven came to Frankfurt winning 63-55. Torrell Martin hit some big shots leading his team with 19 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Justin Gray and Jermareo Davidson with 14 points a piece. In the second game in Bremerhaven, the Fraport Skyliners lost 76-70 thanks to a strong 28 point second quarter sparked by a 25 point Anthony Smith night in which the Skyliners couldn´t recover from. Jimmy Mckinney led the Fraport Skyliners with 16 points and Tim Ohlbrecht and Devin Gibson added 12 points a piece. In the first meeting this season, the Eisbaeren came away with a 74-68 win as ex Skyliner Jacob Burtschi led the way with 16 points and 12 rebounds. A strong fourth quarter and 41 rebounds helped pave the way for Bremerhaven. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Ted Scott with 17 points and Zach peacock with 14 points points. The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven enter the game with a bitter 82-78 loss in Ulm, a game they could of won. Bremerhaven have lost six of the last eight games and are looking to find a groove in the stretch run. The Fraport Skyliners are coming off a huge win at home against Bamberg an dhave won four of their last five games, but are taking each game one by one. “We had a 24 hour celebration after Bamberg win, but we can´t get too excited. We have to continue to improve and get better and we will need a total team effort against Bremerhaven”, stressed Dawan Robinson.

The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven are led by Stefon Jackson. Jackson is a 27 year old 196cm guard from Philadelphia that is playing his first season with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven. He played at the University of Texas-El Paso from 2005 and 2009 playing a total of 122 NCAA games. Finished career as UTEP and Conference USA’s all-time leading scorer with 2,456 points. He played in Turkey and Greece as a rookie in 2009 and in Belgium the last two seasons. Last season he played for  Generali Okapi Aalstar (Belgium-D1, starting five): EuroChallenge: 12 games: 11.5ppg, 6.8rpg, 2.3apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 56.0%, 3PT: 23.1%, FT: 83.3%; Belgian League: 33 games: 11.9ppg, 6.3rpg, 2.3apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 51.2%, 3PT: 16.7%, FT: 72.4%. He won the Belgium cup last season. Scott Morrison is also playing his first season with Bremerhaven. He is a 26 year old 212 cm center from Canada and Germany is his fourth country as a professional . He has great size and he can really run. He brings a good understanding of the game. A skilled and agile player for his size. He played at Portland State from 2004-2008 playing a total of 119 NCAA games.  Finished career as PSU’s all-time leader in blocked shots (187), second in all-time field goal percentage (.543), fifth in rebounding (666) and 12th all-time in scoring (1,098 points). Also, finished third all-time in the Big Sky Conference in career field goal percentage (.575). He played in Hungry, Ukraine and Estonia in his first three seasons. Last season, he played for Energa Czarni Slupsk (Poland-PLK, starting five): 38 games: 10.6ppg, 5.7rpg, Blocks-5(1.3bpg), FGP: 63.4%, FT: 63.4%.

Stanley Burrell is a 28 year old 190cm point guard from Indianapolis, Indiana playing his first season for the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven. Burrell played at Xavier from 2004-2008.He reached the NCAA Elite 8 in 2008He had five pre game work outs with NBA teams. He played in Bosnia, Belgium and Poland as a professional. Last season he played for Energa Czarni Slupsk (Poland-PLK, starting five): 39 games: 15.6ppg, 3.2rpg, 4.8apg, FGP: 51.3%, 3PT: 40.5%, FT: 81.9%. Jacob Burtschi is a 28 year old 198cm forward from Chickasha, Oklahoma who is playing his first season with the Bremerhaven Eisbaeren. He played as a rookie for Phoenix Hagen in 2010-2011 averaging 14.2ppg, 6.9rpg, 2.5apg, Steals-3(1.5spg), FGP: 56.0%, 3PT: 44.2%, FT: 82.2%. He played at the Air Force from 2003-2007. In his senior year, he played 35 games averaging 13.5ppg, 6.0rpg, 2.3apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 49.7%, 3Pts: 39.0%, FT: 77.3%. He had offers to play in the NBA, but served in the Air Force the last three years and could only play club ball. Some achievements that he got in the NCAA were  All-MWC Honorable Mention -05, MWC Regular Season Runner-Up -06, All-MWC 2nd Team -06, 07, NABC All-NCAA District 13 2nd Team -07, and NIT Final Four -07. Last season he played for  CAI Zaragoza (Spain-ACB, starting five): 9 games: 2.6ppg, 2.4rpg; left in Nov.’11, in Dec.’11 moved to Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt (Germany-BBL): German League: 22 games: 8.2ppg, 4.5rpg, 1.4apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 36.3%, FT: 87.5%; EuroCup: 2 games: 5.5ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.0apg, 1.0spg. He won the 2011 Beko BBL three point shooting contest.

Phillip Zwiener is a 27 year old 198cm forward who started his basketball career as a 17 year old in 2002 for TSV Lesum-Bremen (2Bundealiga). In 2004-2005, in his last season for TSV Lesum, he played 29 games averaging 14.4ppg, 4.7rpg, 1.6apg, 2FGP: 57%, 3FGP: 28.1%, FT: 77.3%. He then got rewarded by getting signed by German power house Alba Berlin. Zwiener didn´t take off like an Albatros as he played on the  Spree for five years playing only 114 BEKO BBL games, 15 ULEB Cup games, 4 Eurocup games and 2 Euroleague games. He never was able to develop into a important player because the club had so many talented players and always had the pressure to have to win. He was able to win 2 BEKO BBL cups and 1 BEKO BBL championship with Alba Berlin. Despite not playing so much in Berlin, German national coach Dirk Bauerman always had an eye on him and invited him to play at the 2008 Olympics in Bejing. “I am not surprised by the development of Phil. He just didn´t get much time in Berlin. He got valuable experience and now is got his chance to shine in Trier. His time in Berlin was very valuable as he was playing for one of the most respected teams in Europe and was able to play behind some great players and learn from them and play Euroleague. He will only get better”, warned John Bynum. “Phil never had a real chance in Berlin, because there were so many talented players there. He is a good player and is proved it  with TBB Trier. If he keeps working then he will improve. I am sure his goal is to return back to the German national team”, warned Dru Joyce last season. “Zwiener is currently one of the best in the league. He is running the team and has done a good job. He just needed the chance to play which he didn´t get in Berlin and now he is getting that chance”, commented Quentin Pryor. Last season for TBB Trier, the German played 1 games: 12.3ppg, 4.2rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 46.5%, 3PT: 28.3%, FT: 72.5%.

Keith Waleskowski is a 32 year old 204cm power forward/center that is from Dayton, Ohio and playing his first season with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven. He is a strong inside player, who can score and has timing for the rebounds. Has the ability to involve teammates with his leadership and passing skills. He played at Dayton from 2000-2004. He has had much joy of having a strong basketball career in Spain and Italy the last 8 years. He played in Spain five years and in Italy the last three years. Last season, he played for ezenis Verona (Italy-Lega2, starting five): 19 games: 10.3ppg, 7.4rpg, 1.4spg, FGP: 62.3%, 3PT: 14.3%, FT: 84.4%. Alex Harris who is a 26 year old 196cm guard from Mission Viejo, California that is playing his first season in Bremerhaven. He grew up in Alameda, California and played at the University of California/Santa Barbara from 2004-2008 and in his senior year, he played games: 20.2ppg, 3.7rpg, 1.7apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 43.0%, 3Pts: 42.3%, FT: 81.2%. After college, he played in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Pre-NBA Draft): 3 games: 8.3ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.0apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 34.5%, 3PT: 11.1%, FT: 66.7%. In 2008-2009, he turned professional and played in Poland the last two seasons. In 2008-2009, he played for Turow Zgorzelec (Poland-DBE, starting five): Eurocup: 6 games: 6.8ppg, 1.0rpg, 1.0apg; Polish League: 34 games: 7.3ppg, 2.1rpg, FGP: 40.4%, 3PT: 38.9%, FT: 82.7%. In 2009-2010, he played for Czarni Slupsk (Poland-PLK, starting five): 30 games: 9.7ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.4apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 38.2%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 81.5%. He played in the Polish Allstar game 2010.He played for EnBW Ludwigsburg form 2010-2012. Last season for Ludwigsburg, he played 32 games: 12.4ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 43.2%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 76.9% He played at the 2011 Beko BBL Allstar game in Trier. Jermaine Raffington is a 27 year old 205cm power forward/center German. He played at TSG Ehingen from 2002-2005. He played at Southeastern CC from 2005-2007 and then returned back to Germany. He played at BV Chemnitz 99 (2.Bundesliga) in 2007-2008 playing 30 games: 12.6ppg, 5.7rpg, 2FGP: 53.4%, 3FGP: 31.8%, FT: 59.3%. He played for BBC Bayreuth from 2008-2010. In 2009-2010, he played 30  games: 10.2ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 45.8%, 3PT: 35.5%, FT: 72.7%. In 2010-2011 for BG Goettingen, he played : EuroCup: 7 games: 3.4ppg, 1.1rpg; German League: 23 games: 2.5ppg, 1.2rpg. The Germna is back in Bremerhaven for a second season. Last season for the Eisbaeren, he played 32 games: 3.2ppg, 1.4rpg2012-2013: Eisbaeren Bremerhaven (BBL). Anthony Canty returns for a third season to Bremerhaven. Canty is a 21 year old 183cm point guard from Germany. In 2010-2011 he played 15 games for Bremerhaven averaging 2.2ppg and also played at Cuxhaven BasCats (ProA): 22 games: 5.6ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 42.4%, 3PT: 35.6%, FT: 74.3%. Who could forget his spirited game in Frankfurt where he had to play a bulk at the point showing his three point shooting savoy and playmaking skills.







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