Is Bane Ratkovica The Missing Tiger Link To Future Success with Tuebingen?

Walter Tigers Tuebingen head coach Igor Perovic has had that special right instinct for getting young players from the NCAA the last years as well as the right mix of players for his rosters the same way as Borusia Dortmund head coach Jurgen Klopp has been able to shape successful teams the last years especially this season with lesser known star players, but that have panned out in the early going. Perovic brought in guys like Vaughn Duggins or Tyrone Nash the last years who have become better players in Tuebingen, but at the point guard position, he has had his up and downs the last years landing some good experienced players while other times not having as much luck. From 2009-2011, he had Serb Branislav Rathkovica who led the Beko BBL in assists both seasons and two years ago had Louis Campbell who was vital in the team sniffing near the playoff area. Last season, NCAA rookie Dale Davis had to pack his bags and newcomer Cameron Wells did a solid job, but one can´t always expect much from a player coming late to a team.  This season combo guards Jonathan Wallace and Josh Young have shared the point guard position and are averaging 6,0apg combined which is solid, but the club has started off slow and have had issues on offense not having that needed consistent playmaking and losing needlessly to teams like TBB Trier and SC Rasta Vechta. So if a top point guard like Branislav Ratkovica is on the market why not reel him in like a lonely salmon in a lake on a leisurely Sunday fishing trip.  Perovic gobbled up the free Ratkovica who is in his best basketball age at 28 and right in his first game helped the Tigers to a big road win in Braunschweig. Last season the Serb had a nomadic season as he had his suitcase in constant service starting the season with Aliaga Petkim (Turkey-TBL) playing 3 games: 5.7ppg, 1.0rpg, 6.0apg, 1.0spg; EuroChallenge Qualifying Round: 2 games: 13.0ppg, 2.0rpg, Assists-2(6.0apg), Steals-4(2.5spg). He then moved to Olin Edirne Basketball (Turkey-TBL) playing 13 games: 5.0ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.9apg, 2FGP: 48.4%, 3FGP: 28.1%, FT: 80.0%, in Feb.’13 signed at Artland Dragons Quakenbrueck (Germany-BBL, starting five): 11 games: 7.5ppg, 1.3rpg, 4.6apg, FGP: 40.7%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 72.7%. Ratkovica played three seasons in Tuebingen from 2008-2011 and two with Perovic and one senses that the harmony is still there between both. “He knows a lot about basketball, he is patient and reasonable, which has positive effects on the team. I think it has already been shown how much Tuebingen appreciates him. Our cooperation is great. We have complete confidence in each other, which means a lot to me as a point guard”, stressed Branislav Rathkovica. In his second game, Tuebingen lost at home against Oldenburg 96-60. It will take some weeks before Rathkovica is totally integrated, but he has some solid teammates and could really create for scorers like Alex Harris and Johannes Lischka. The Beko BBL gets more competitive each season, but the Walter TIgers Tuebingen are definitely stronger than wiithout Ratkovica and it will be interesting to see how many upsets are possible and how the club will grow as a team with Ratkovica.

Last season the Walter Tigers Tuebingen had their best finish since 2007 in 10th place and the best under Igor Perovic. They finished the season with a record of 16-18 and were very close at the end in reaching their first ever playoffs in the Beko BBL. The Walter Tigers Tuebingen have never been as close to the playoffs as they were  last season. It had been another very positive season for the Tigers as everybody saw them as a team that would be living in the middle of the standings last season. The team chemistry last season was heightened in that Perovic was able to keep many players from the season before. Perovic who has been known for having the right touch finding the correct players from the NCAA to help his team in the best way possible the same way a Rick Pitino does for his Louisville team. Perovic brought in Kenny Frease who gave more stability under the boards and possibly his unorthodox gum chewing may have been a secret weapon to intimidating opponents. He also had the right feeling bringing in talented German Johannes Lischka who carried the team and stepped up in many games last season. Perovic did have one misfire with Dale Douglas who was unable to make the jump from the NCAA to the Beko BBL being released early in the season, but he had another strike with American Cameron Wells who brought consistency to the guard position. With one game left in the regular season, the Beko BBL remained as exciting as ever with a bunch of teams seemingly wrapped together in sticky spaghetti trying to break free to get the last playoff places. It remained very exciting for Phoenix Hagen, the Telekom Baskets Bonn and s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg, and also for Tuebingen. The only way Tuebingen could have reached the playoffs was with a win in Ulm and getting much help from  MBC, Bamberg and FC Bayern  Munich. It was a pity for the diehard Tiger fans that it just didn´t want to be again as they lost in Ulm, but the Tigers are getting closer and closer each season. Everybody talks about the exceptional work of coaches like Sebastian Machwoski and Ingo Freyer, but a Igor Perovic deserves to be mentioned with them. Tuebingen would not be where it is now without the guidance of the Serb. The trend in Tuebingen is up and the next step is for the Tigers to munch on Beko BBL teams in the playoffs even if they have to keep playing a sort of basketball lottery each off season.

This season Igor Perovic had slighty more budget to work with, but he also had to find that right “I am going to grab the right players” instinct because he lost three key players with Vaughn Duggins who moved to le Mans, France to finally be teammates as a professional with ex college teammate Dashaun Wood. Reggie Redding who is one of the top 5 swing men in the Beko BBl moved to 8 time Beko BBl champion Alba Berlin and Kenny Frease opted to go to 2008 Beko BBL cup winner Artland Dragons to see if cows on pastures there chew gum differently than in Tuebingen.  The first order of business was to keep a healthy portion of players from last season on board and he was able to do that with Americans Josh Young and Tyrone Nash and Germans Johannes Lischka and Robert Ohle. Young is playing his third Beko BBL season in Tuebingen. The Oklahoma native is a 25 year old 185cm point guard that played at Drake and is one of those rare players that made the jump from German pro B to German Beko BBL. Last season, Young played 34 games: 9.1ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 60.9%, 3PT: 34.5%, FT: 71.8%. Young is an all energy guy that controls the tempo well and can get hot from outside especially  in the Paul horn arena when the fans get going. Tyrone Nash is a  that is also playing his third season in Tuebingen. He played at Notre Dame with NBA players like Luke Harangody, Luke Zeller and Ben Hansborugh. Last season for Tuebingen he was able to improve in scoring and rebounding and played 32 games: 10.7ppg, 5.3rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 61.3%, 3PT: 28.9%, FT: 64.2%. He is a solid scorer that can help out at center if there are foul problems. The team also held onto German Johannes Lischka who is a 26 year old 203cm power forward from Giessen. After playing in Giesen and Ludwigsburg, he now is playing his second season in Tuebingen. Last season the work horse who will go where it hurts and at times looks as emotionless German actor Armin Rhode looked like on the couch of Wetten Das last season played 34 games: 11.2ppg, 6.3rpg, FGP: 54.8%, 3PT: 29.9%, FT: 67.2%. Lischka was recently diagnosed with pituitary gland tumor, but is confident that he will play again. Robert Ohle also remained who is a 25 year old 209cm center that will be playing his second season for Igor Perovic after stays in Paderborn, Kaiserslautern and Giessen. Last season, he played 33 games averaging 2,4ppg and 1,7rpg. He started many games last season and is still getting used to more playing time in the Beko BBL.

The club added seven players saying farewell to American Ben Simmons early as he only played six games averaging 1,5ppg and 1,5rpg. Simmons is now playing in Belgium for Port of Antwerp Giants. The biggest pick up for the team was sharp shooter Alex Harris who is a 27y ear old 196cm guard and is playing his fourth consecutive season in Germany and first in Tuebingen after two seasons in Ludwigsburg and one in Bremerhaven. Last season the California native played for the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven and had a season to forget as he was injured and played only 26 games: 7.7ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 39.6%, 3PT: 32.7%, FT: 79.0%. Harris is the go to guy and everyone is expecting a big season from him especially Perovic who is a big supporter of his play. Jonathan Wallace is a 27 year old 187cm point guard who returns back to Germany after playing in Belgium last season. The Alabama native who could tell stories on long bus rides to Oldenburg about his Georgetown days playing with guys like Patrick Ewing jr, Roy Hibbert or Dajuan Summers is a scoring guard that loves the one on on eplay. Last season he played for Belfius Mons-Hainaut (Belgium-Ethias League) playing 35 games: 10.7ppg, 1.9rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 47.7%, 3PT-3(48.2%), FT: 85.1%; EuroChallenge: 6 games: 13.5ppg, 2.2rpg, 3.5apg, FGP: 51.4%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 84.2%. His experience having played two seasons for FC Bayern Munich will help as well. Possibly the two most important pick ups were 30 plus players Alexsandar Nadjfeji and Nils Mittmann. Nadjfeji came to Tuebingen as an assistant coach, but during the pre season as the club was able to get an extra international spot on the roster, he was made into a player coach and at age 37 can still play with the best of them and is third in teams coring. His experience is priceless having won titles in Cologne and Berlin. His first station in Germany was Bonn back in 2001 and he played the last three seasons in Munich. Last season he played only eight games averaging 4,9ppg and 1,9rpg. He was for many years one of the best passing power forwards and thanks to his good condition can stills core in the paint. Nils Mittmann is a 34 year old 201cm forward that is playing his first season in Tuebingen after stations in Ulm, Wurzburg, Ludwigsburg and eight seasons in Braunschweig. He seems to be strolling in the twighlight of his basketball career, but can still hit the three pointer and defend aggressively and is the ultimate team player. Last season he played 28 games averaging 4,1ppg and 3,2rpg. The team also acquired Bogdan Radosavljevic who is a 20 year old 213cm center that has the German and Serb citizenship. He started his basketball career in 2008 with UBC St. Poelten junior team and then played for FC Bayern Munich from 2010-2013. In Munich he never got a real chance playing a total of 17 BEKO BBL games. He is one of the biggest talents in Europe and showed fine play at the 2013 European Championships U20 in Tallinn (Estonia) -13: 9 games: 15.4ppg, 5.2rpg, FGP: 58.9%, 3PT: 35.0%, FT: 71.1%. He will get his minutes in Tuebingen and now just needs to get experience and continue to work on his game. The club recently brought back Branislav Ratkovica  who played in Tuebingen from 2008-2011 winning the assist title twice in the Beko BBL. He is a 28 year old 192cm point guard in the best basketball age. After leaving Tuebingen in 2011, he playedfor liaga Petkim two seasons ago and last season was a basketball globetrotter playing for three teams. Bane as everyone calls him is a A good defender on the perimeter, he’s a player with leadership and court vision that can play even the two position if needed, thanks to good scoring skills and size. He is just another one of many spectacular players that the Beko BBL won back. If he gets going, he could give Jared Jordan a run for the assist title.

The Walter Tigers Tubeingen are a team that is always good for s surprise. Their biggest win of the season so far was in Braunschweig. Loses to teams like Oldenburg and Bamberg where they were creamed didn´t surprise anyone, but mediocre games against TBB Trier and SC Rasta Vechta are teams they have to be competitive from the start to be able to win, because these are the games that they have to win. The club have very strong guards, but how long will fans keep bringing up names like Reggie Redding and Kenny Frease and to how missed they are. The club added some very solid players, but lack a big name center as Ohle and Radosavlevic aren´t in that category. The team needs much support under the boards from everyone as Johannes Lischka has been playing more like a center down low as the leading rebounder. In four games, the Tigers averaged only 61 ppg and with the arrival of Ratkovica, the team should improve in their scoring as more creating will be added to the point guard spot. The team will have to shoot better than last season to be able to have a better chance against better rated Beko BBL teams. Tuebingen has a good mix of experienced players and key will be to keep that team focus which has been vital the last two seasons where the club has been near the playoff places. Very much will have to go right for Perovic to reach the first promised land, but why not achieve some luck in this category as he has had with player signings the last years?

Since the 2005-2005 season, the Frankfurt Skyliners have a record of 10-4. After losing the season series in 2005-2006, the Frankfurt Skyliners had some glorious years winning seven games in a row. In the 2007-2008 season, Frankfurt won both games as Derrick Allen totally dominated both games scoring 27 and 21 points. Even in the third game in a row the next season, Allen was top scorer with 22 points. Who could forget the 25 point effort of Keith Simmons in 2009 in a 72-59 victory. Two seasons ago, the Frankfurt Skyliners swept the season  series as 2011 Beko BBL MVP Dashaun Wood had 34 and 22 points to lead all scorers. In the first meeting of the season in 2011-2012, the Tigers lost to the Fraport Skyliners 73-66 in a game that was on the line in crunch time and a game they could of won. Duggins brought the Tigers to 66-69 with 1.13 to play, but a Jon Leuer bucket and Justin Gray free throws sealed the win for Frankfurt. In the return game in Frankfurt, Tuebingen got revenge winning 96-89 as Reggie Redding led all scorers with 25 points. In the first meeting last season, The Walter Tigers Tuebingen played an all around solid game defeating Frankfurt 87-75 and had six players in double figures as Kenny Frease had 18 points, Vaughn Duggins chipped in with 17 points and Reggie Redding and Tyrone Nash contributed 12 points each. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Zach Peacock with 18 points and Ted Scott with 13 points. Tiger Josh Young knows what Frankfurt is capable of and how to stop Devin Gibson. In the return match in Frankfurt, The Fraport Skyliners took apart Tuebingen 92-78 as Frankfurt was led by Dawan sweet Philli Robinson with 21 points, while Zach peacock steered 20 points and Ryan Brooks 19 points to the victory. Tuebingen was led by Vaughn Duggins with 15 points and Kenny Frease with 13 points. The Fraport Skyliners come into Tubingen looking to add on to their one game winning streak with their third road win having a 2-2 record on the road. Frankfurt have rebounded the ball very well and a big improvement over the Bonn fiasco and had their offense into sixth gear again. Tuebingen comes into the game coming off a two game losing streak getting blown out by Oldenburg and FC Bayern Munich losing by a combined score of 76 points. Tuebingen is like a very very injured animal and without top player Johannes Lischka have nothing to lose and will need to be even more alert then a tiger is searching for prey. Tuebingen wont be with German Johannes Lischka who had a tumor removed last week, but Frankfurt can´t relax because of that loss, because it is never easy to win the tiger den and pink house. “We have to play very good defense again which will spark our offense. I would like to play against Joe Lischka, but I don´t think he will be able to play yet”, stressed Konstantin Klein.

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