2013 Beko BBL Playoff Preview Brose Baskets Bamberg-Phoenix Hagen 3-2

The biggest news story in the German city of Hagen now is the success of basketball team Phoenix Hagen and them reaching their first playoffs in their short history. There have been quite a few surprises this season in the German basketball world like Tim Ohlbrecht reaching the NBA,  the immense quick rise of German Dennis Schroeder who might be sooner in the NBA than Davin White can sneak penetrate to the hoop or the rapid development of TBB Trier German center Andreas Seifert, but most likely the biggest surprise this season and biggest story is the consistent season of Phoenix Hagen and actually having the opportunity of playing in May. Three seasons ago, they were the laughing stock of the Beko BBL as not even a Michael hakim Jordan locker room tirade in Frankfurt could steer the club in the right direction. However no one is laughing at Phoenix Hagen anymore as the team has arrived in the Beko BBL playoffs and no one is prouder than the long thunderbird Bernd Kruel who is playing his 16th season in Hagen.

Even if a certain basketball philosophy doesn´t work right away, one could take a shooters slump and just keep shooting and try try try again. The basketball style of Ingo Freyer and his club since reaching the Beko BBL in 2009 has been run and gun and just score more than their opponent. Phoenix Hagen has had massive shoot outs the last three seasons losing the most, but this season their incredible knack of scoring rose even more, but they also decided to play defense something which had been irrelevant in the past.  Larry Gordon has stressed all season long that we focus more on defense than our offense everyday. We know defense is what Wins. Phoenix Hagen reached the playoffs as the last team, but from all the teams that were fighting for that last spot, they definitely deserved it the most. They averaged a mind boggling 86 points per game and scored 80 points or more 21 times. They beat all the top teams in the Beko BBL, including Bamberg, Berlin and Oldenburg all in a row at home. There were times that they defended in a first class way keeping Oldenburg to 67 points and holding the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg to an average 67 points in the two games. Besides being a scoring machine and on certain nights being able to shoot out the lights of any team, they are also a very strong rebounding team despite being a smaller type of shooting team. Larry Gordon is one of the most underrated rebounders in the Beko BBL. He gives the word effort a new definition when hauling down rebounds. Another strength of the club is that their starting five of Davin White, David Bell, Larry Gordon, Adam Hess and Dino Gregory never missed a game playing all 34 games. Another strength is how the self confidence of the team has risen game by game. Knowing that they beat Bamberg at home will motivate them, but stealing a game in Bamberg is easier said than done and is like telling Anton Gavel to never defend again which is unlikely. Weaknesses of Phoenix Hagen is their bench. Their starters make 62 of the team 86 points, so the club is very dependent on their starting five something the Nordlingen Giants also were in the 2008-2009 season in the Beko BBL. The club have solid back ups with Mark Dorris, Abe Lodwick and Ole Wendt, but that’s about it. One can´t forget Bernd Kruel who is the Chris Ensminger of Hagen who is 36 and keeps coming back each season and can still bang with the best of them.

For the Brose Baskets Bamberg, it was another typical Beko BBL regular season as they finished in first place with a record of 25-8, but it was the most loses that they had since their first Beko BBL title in their three peat 2009-2010 as they lost 12 games. In the last two seasons 2010-2012 they only lost six games. With their nine game losing streak in March with Beko BBL/Euroleague games, it was obvious that Bamberg wasn´t that invincible team that they once were. One can´t forget that they also had much misfortune in the Euroleague losing many games by fewer than five points. Despite having winning streaks of eight and 11 games and winning 19 of 20 games in the Beko BBL, the Euroleague travel did have a strain on them as they lost three games in a row to weaker competition like Phoenix Hagen and the Fraport Skyliners. Injuries to guys like John Goldsberry, Matt Walsh, Maik Zirbes and Andrew Ogily disrupted the building of the team chemistry as well as the coming and going of players like Teddy Gipson. Jeremiah Massey also was unable to live up to the expectations of manager Wolfgang Heyder and had to go.  Despite all the drama this season, the Brose Baskets Bamberg are still the team to beat. They have the second best offense and have a strong core of scorers with Casey Jacobsen, Bostjan Nachbar, Anton Gavel, Sharod Ford, and Matt Walsh and belong to the best on defense giving up an average of 73,0ppg. They continue to play with a lot of discipline and like FC Bayern Munich like that quick offense where their amazing quick ball movement gets good shots fast. They also have the ability to find the mismatches and use them. They continue to play with the heart of a lion led by ex NBA player Casey Jacobson who still is the most professional player in the league. The key duel of the series could be Anton Gavel against Davin White who led the Beko BBL in scoring. Both players are their teams MVP. If White is shut down which is seldom, then Phoenix Hagen may still win, but in a five series against Phoenix Hagen, they will need the production of White. White has led the team all season long and he sparks his teammates. Gavel does everything for Bamberg and even if he seems to have been burned out a bit in the last months, Bamberg needs their spark plug to be on each night. The two teams split the season series 1-1 as Phoenix Hagen played their typical run and gun and forced the five time champion Bamberg to their style of having shoot outs. Bamberg will have to defend a lot better especially the three as Phoenix Hagen shot 20/45 in the two games.  If Phoenix Hagen wants to have any chance then they will have to defend and find a way to get around the Bamberg keen ability of using the mismatches. Bamberg should play pick and roll and just push the ball inside more, because despite Hagen having strong defender Dino Gregory, he can´t cover the whole paint. Bamberg has had a long season and are used to the grind and just have so much more experience then does a Phoenix Hagen. This is a series where anything can happen. I could see Bamberg sweeping, but also going to five games , but in the end Chris Fleming will display a smile because Bamberg will win this series, but Phoenix Hagen will not make life easy for Bamberg and this is the perfect opponent for Bamberg to get warmed up for the winner of the Berlin-Munich series. Phoenix Hagen will fight until they fall over, but Bamberg will just be too strong and too experienced and clip the wings of the Phoenix Hagen thunderbird even if it will take a fight.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s