Can The Brose Baskets Bamberg Win A Fifth Consecutive Beko BBL Championship?

Unless you know your basketball and know the history of German fitness studios, then knowing that Alba Berlin forward Sven Schultze hails from the Bavarian province town of Bamberg and gets booed at when he plays in the Stechert arena and the founder of now Germanys biggest fitness studio chain McFit come from Bamberg isn´t difficult. However there are other reasons for visiting the Oberfranken town of Bamberg like visiting its beautiful and traditional historic district, walking along the pretty Regnitz river and taking in the tranquility of Bamberg, taking in the Bamberg Minister and all its history, seeing the old city hall what is basicly on the Regnitz river or having to make the difficult decision of what beer to drink since it has a rich tradition of serving very many different type. However if your  a basketball aficionado, then making a short stop at the Stechert arena which is the home of reining German champion Brose Baskets Bamberg where you can get a dose of German sports bar and German Super market in one as both are adjacent to the arena. Ever since Bamberg won their third league title in 2010 defeating the Deutsche Bank Skyliners in a hard fought five game battle, they have been the club to beat having won the title now four years in a row and are gunning for a fifth this season. That first title was won mainly with a very strong knit team led by ex NBA player Casey Jacbseon, Predrag Suput and John Goldsberry and many big time role players like Brian Roberts, Mark Worthington and Anton Gavel that understood that team came before ego. In the last three titles, a growing team chemistry has been vital as well as the work of probably the most famous scout in German basketball Brendan Rooney who brought in the exact right players each season to make the Bamberg club even more dangerous and more difficult to defeat. In the second title, Rooney hauled in little big center Kyle Hines who was like a new version of Jeff Gibbs and ex NBA player Reyshawn Terry, two seasons ago, he brought in dunk sensation Marcus Slaughter who gave flights to the basket and ally-ops a new meaning and x factor PJ Tucker who is back in the NBA now and probably wont leave again. Last season, he had to bring in more faces with Bostjan Nachbar, Teddy Gipson, Sharrod Ford, Latavious Williams and Andrew Ogilvy. Gipson and Williams had to go early, but despite that the club was still able to buckle down and win a fourth league title. This season, the team brought in five new import players with Zack Wright, Jahmar Smith, Rakim Sanders, Damir Markota, Novica Velickovic and recently ex Macabbi Tel Aviv center D or Fischer for the injured Sharrod Ford. So far Smith and Wright have been the steadiest players. Markota has already departed and Velickovic is injured. Bamberg is still near the top at the present moment and despite growing competition each season especially from FC Bayern Munich, it will be interesting if Bamberg can win a fifth title in a row this season. The new player signings haven´t been as spectacular as in years two and three of their titles, but these guys can still play and a lot will have to do with how well the team chemistry builds and how well the new players develop in their current situation in the team. An advantage that the new players have is that they are more youthful and are able to create shots better for guys like Gavel and Jacobsen who weren´t always set up as well as they would have liked.

From 2009-2012, winning for the Brose Baskets Bamberg in the Beko BBL has seemed as simple as it is for NBA player Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian to drown in the tabloids, The Boston Celtics to win games without Rajon Rondo or the way Alex King hit with ease one December night in Eurocup play dropping seven three pointers in a row. In these three years, Bamberg had a record of 111-25 in the Beko BBL. In 2009-2010, they even lost 12 games in the regular season, but showed their grit in playoffs winning a hard fought 5 games series vs Deutsche Bank Skyliners. The 2010-2011 regular season was their strongest going 30-4 and after winning the first 17 games and lost surprisingly in Duesseldorf. They needed five games series in the playoffs against Artland and Alba Berlin. In 2011-2012 season, they were 30-4 in the regular season and blew away the competition in the playoffs and only lost one time vs Bonn at home which was their only loss at home in two years. In this span they won six titles, but this season a dent was put into the quadruple losing in the cup to FC Bayern Munich. Last season the Brose Baskets Bamberg had a 26-8 record which was their second worst in their four year title run, but it was still good enough to end in first place after the regular season. In the playoffs, the Brose Baskets Bamberg let one game slip away to Phoenix Hagen, but were able to move on on account of more experience and the opponent running out of gas in May. In the semi finals, they had a real fight with FC Bayern Munich who were on their heels until the end winning in five games. In the final, they were able to sweep the 2009 Beko BBL champion EWE Baskets Oldenburg, but don’t let the broom attack fool you as it was one of the most exciting sweeps in BBL history as the whole three games were decided by only seven points. This series might have given the first real grey hair on the scalp of Bamberg head coach Chris Fleming, but Bamberg once again showed their true class of team basketball and togetherness in crunch time in three consecutive games.

This season, the Brose Baskets Bamberg defend their title again and want to win a fifth championship, but it wont be easy with the early dominance of FC Bayern Munich. The club did a good job keeping a healthy core of seven players from the last season and added six new players. The biggest strength this season of the Brose Baskets Bamberg remains their experience and chemistry that the team has held for years with the players that have won the last years. Their defense continues to be their staple and their big weapon when used properly will lead them to many wins this season. They held Oldenburg under 60 points and Alba Berlin under 70 points. They will always be dangerous on offense as they have many weapons and as always deep at every position. When they really get going than their ball movement belongs to the best in the league with all the experience and habit that has developed over the years. Bamberg lost to FC Bayern Munich and a close dog fight in Artland and surprisingly lost in Ulm. Their only weakness is the rebounding that can improve as a team and if they can keep their hungriness, but the leaders of the team Casey Jacobsen and Anton Gavel will be like hunting dogs in that if their teammates do lose focus, then they will be unleashed to bite some proper concentration into their heads. “Bamberg has been a little unlucky this season not getting to the next round of Euroleague. However they still have their core of guys with Jacobsen, Gavel and Goldsberry and they will ge better as the season goes on”, warned Frankfurt head coach Gordon Herbert. The Brose Baskets Bamberg come into the game having won 10 of their last 11 games losing only to Ulm two weeks ago. Last weekend they held Wurzburg to only 49 points in their living room. SC Rasta Vechta forward Jacob Doerksen lost to Bamberg this season and knows what Frankfurt will need to win. “Frankfurt has to take better care of the ball than they did against us. They also can´t get down early in Bamberg”, warned Canadian native Jacob Doerksen. The Fraport Skyliners are riding on a two game winning streak and want to remain in the playoff places as well as having a shot for the Beko BBL cup. “Bamberg is vulnerable this season. I think that they don´t have the same type of players like in the last years. It is different now and they are more beatable. We have to play our game and keep the game close and not let them get away early”, warned Jacob Burtschi. At the weekly press conference Thursday, the abd news was released as Jacob Burtschi is out and it seems like Andrew Rautins and Ramon Galloway who have lower body injuries wont suit up either. “Injuries are a part of the game. We have to do the best we can with the guys we have. This will be a great chance for our young kids to get to understand how this championship team plays. Our Germans have the chance now to make the next step. It isn´t always about winning, but getting better. It is what we do between October and April and May in order to get better. The work has to be done in that time.  Despite all this turmoil, Frankfurt head coach Gordon Herbert kept his sense of humor.  “We have open  gym at 2pm. Maybe Chris Fleming can let us borrow one of his excess Americans”, smiled Gordon Herbert.

The team kept Anton Gavel who is a 29 year old 189cm combo guard from Slovakia that has experience and can score quickly and in bunches when needed. He is playing his fifth season with Bamberg and started his basketball career for BG Karlsruhe and then played for Giessen from 2004-2006. In 2004-2005,  he was a big factor in almost kicking out Bamberg out of the playoffs. That season he played 39 games: 12.7ppg, 2.9rpg, 2.5apg, 1.7spg, Blocks-3(1.5bpg), 2FGP: 53.2%, 3FGP: 35.7%. The next season, he was even better as he played 30 games: 16.0ppg, 2.7rpg, 3.0apg, 1.8spg, 2FGP: 46.3%, 3PT: 38.5%, FT: 52.4%. he then got valuable experience playing in Spain in the ACB for PolarWorld Murcia from 2006-2008. In 2008-2009, he played for Aris Thessaloniki (Greece-A1). Last season he played for Svit (Extraliga, starting five), Slovakian League: 2 games: 22.5ppg, 5.0rpg, 3.5apg, 1.5spg; in Nov.’09 moved to Brose Baskets Bamberg (Germany-1.Bundesliga, starting five): German League: 36 games: 10.0ppg, 2.3rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 50.5%, 3PT: 44.1%, FT: 71.7%; EuroCup: 12 games: 6.8ppg, 1.8apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 54.5%, 3PT: 41.4%, FT: 84.0%. In 2010-2011, he played 10  Euroleague games: 12.8ppg, 2.3rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 49.1%, 3PT: 30.0%, FT: 92.7%; German League: 45 games: 10.7ppg, 2.1rpg, 3.4apg, FGP: 50.3%, 3PT: 41.9%, FT: 84.5%. Last season, he played 43 games: 14.8ppg, 2.7rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 54.3%, 3PT: 44.2%, FT: 75.3%; Euroleague: 23 games: 12.3ppg, 2.1rpg, 3.0apg, FGP: 51.4%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 79.4%. Casey Jacobsen is a 32 year old 198cm shooting guard/small forward is playing his fifth season with Bamberg after winning the BEKO BBL title with the team in 2007 and 2010 and Cup in 2010. The American from Glendora California is an outstanding player, a great competitor, both a scorer and a shooter. He can defend, take the charge, and he’ll get a rebound in a crowd because he’s tough. A complete player who plays hard, and plays smart. He played 287 NBA games for The Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Hornets and Memphis Grizzlies. He played at Stanford from 1998-2002 and in his senior year averaged 21.9ppg, 4.5rpg, 3.5apg, FGP: 44.1%, 3PT: 37.2%, FT: 77.6%; Finished career ranked 3rd in all time points (1723), 6th in points per game (18.1), 2nd in three point field goals (22) and 4th in three point percentage (.427). Left Stanford as the sole or co-owner of 49 school records. He was drafted by the Phoenix Suns (from Boston) (NBA,1rd(22). He played In France for in 2005-2006 for Ceramica Vitoria (Spain-ACB): Euroleague: 25 games: 9.0ppg, 1.6rpg, 2FGP: 55.5%, 3PT: 44.5%, FT: 76.7%; Spanish League: 44 games: 7.0ppg, 2.3rpg, 2FGP: 57.0%, FT: 77.0%. In 2008-2009 he played for Alba Berlin winning the BEKO BBL cup playing Euroleague: 16 games: 6.6ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.1apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 38.7%, 3PT: 37.1%, FT: 68.4%; German League: 43 games: 9.3ppg, 2.6rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 53.0%, 3PT: 44.6%, FT: 76.8%. In 2010-2011 for Bamberg, he played Euroleague: 10 games: 9.1ppg, 4.1rpg, 2.5apg, FGP: 34.8%, 3PT: 42.6%, FT: 68.2%; German Bundesliga: 48 games: 11.8ppg, 3.5rpg, 2.9apg, FGP: 52.8%, 3PT: 43.6%, FT: 84.9%. Last season he played  46 games: 11.7ppg, 3.3rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 48.0%, 3PT: 43.3%, FT: 90.3%; Euroleague: 24 games: 9.3ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.4apg, FGP: 47.0%, 3PT: 39.6%, FT: 85.2%.

Maik Zirbes is a 23 year old 208cm center that has always been seen as a guy that could develop into one of the top German centers and currently can keep doing it with Bamberg after getting the chance with TBB Trier under Henrik Rodl. He was born in Traben-Trarbach  is a huge talent and has been able to increase his playing time each season in Trier. He started his basketball career in the TBB Trier youth programs and in 2008-2009 he played 12 games averaging 1.3ppg and in the summer of 2009 played at the World University Games in Belgrade (Serbia) playing 6 games averaging 5.5ppg, 5.7rpg, FGP: 44.0%, FT: 64.7%. In 2010-2011, he averaged 7.4ppg, 4.4rpg, FGP: 60.9%, FT: 73.3% “He is a big body with soft hands and will help them under the boards. He is very talented”, warned ex TBB Trier forward Chris Copeland. Twos easons ago, he improved his stats in Trier playing  34 games: 10.6ppg, Reb-5(7.1rpg), FGP: 57.3%, FT: 69.9%. Last season for Bamberg he played  43 games: 8.9ppg, 5.1rpg, FGP: 61.1%, FT: 66.7%; Euroleague: 23 games: 8.2ppg, 5.0rpg, FGP: 53.9%, FT: 78.6%. Sharod Ford is a 31 year old 206cm power forward/center from Washington D.C that is playing his season with Bamberg. He is a great intimidator  inside, thanks to great timing and leaping ability. His great athletic skills allow him to be good rebounder and a spectacular slasher, but he showed to be very good even in all the other parts of the game, like passing and ball-handling. He started his basketball career at Clemson in 2001 playing there until 2005. AS a rookie, he played three NBA games for the Phoenix Suns. He finished the season with Alba Berlin helping them win the Beko BBL title. He played a second season for Alba Berlin before moving to Italy. From 2008-2012, he played in Italy with a small four game career in Russia for St Petersburg. In Italy Ford established himself as the top rebounding player leading the league each year in rebounds. Last season, for Bamberg he played  44 games: 12.3ppg, 5.9rpg, Blocks-4(1.2bpg), FGP: 59.1%, 3PT: 37.7%, FT: 74.7%; Euroleague: 23 games: 8.0ppg, 4.3rpg, FGP: 53.6%, 3PT: 27.5%, FT: 64.9%.

The team is also kept talented young Germans led by Karsten Tadda who is a 25 year old 189cm guard. He has been with Bamberg since 2007. He started his basketball career at Troester Breitenguessbach in 2005. In 2009-2010 for Bamberg he played Eurocup 14 games: 4.1ppg, 1.4rpg; German League: 45 games: 3.2ppg, 1.2rpg, 1.0apg. In 2010-2011, he played German League: 47 games: 3.1ppg, 1.3rpg; Euroleague: 10 games: 0.8ppg; played also at TSV Troester Breitenguessbach (ProB, starting five): 2 games: 16.5ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.0apg, 1.0spg. He is known as an aggressive and relentless defender. Last season, he  played  45 games: 3.5ppg, 1.6rpg, 1.3apg; Euroleague: 24 games: 3.3ppg, 1.6rpg, 1.0apg. Not many German players can challenge his 47 Euroleague games experience. Goldsberry is a 31 year old 191cm guard from Ohio. He is playing his sixth season for Bamberg. He started his basketball career for  NC-Wilmington (NCAA) from 2002-2006. As a rookie, he played for the Bayer Giants Leverkusen (Germany-1.Bundesliga), injured in Oct.’06 and was sidelined for 8 weeks: 32 games: 8.1ppg, 2.2rpg, 4.2apg, Steals-1(2.6spg), 2FGP: 49.1%, 3FGP: 40.2%, FT: 73.6%. In 2007-2008, he played for the Artland Dragons helping them win the German cup in Hamburg against EnBW Ludwigsburg. After sitting out the 2011-2012 season due to injury, he had a full season last season playing 38 games: 3.7ppg, 2.1rpg, 3.0apg; Euroleague: 18 games: 4.4ppg, 2.0rpg, 2.6apg. Goldsberry is a classic point guard that is a harsh defender and usually does the right things in pressure situations.

Bamberg added six new players with American Jamar Smith who is a 26 year old 191cm guard that played at Illinois(NCAA) and S.Indiana(NCAA). Smith is playing his fourth professional season and is a calm player that can find his teammates and also is a very good distance shooter. As a rookie he played in the D-league and two seasons ago in the Czech Republic. He continues to be very close to getting to the NBA as last season he played for  Boston Celtics (NBA), only pre-season, in Oct.’12 signed at Altshuler Saham Galil Gilboa (Israel-Winner League): 26 games: 14.4ppg, 3.2rpg, 3.4apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 56.9%, 3PT: 41.3%, FT: 68.2%; Balkan League: 11 games: Score-4(16.5ppg), 3.1rpg, 3.7apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 60.0%, 3PT-2(58.1%), FT: 86.7%. Zach Wright is a 28 year old 191cm guard from Austin, Texas that is a aggressive defender that can always hurt you with his penetration to the basket. He played three seasons at : UALR (NCAA) and his last at Central Missouri State. He started his professional career in the German Pro B with the Spot Up Medien Baskets Braunschweig (Germany-ProB) 25 games: Score-1(24.8ppg), 5.3rpg, 4.9apg, Steals-1(3.5spg), FGP: 61.9%, 3PT: 30.8%, FT: 67.3%. Ever since his rookie season his career has risen as he has played for top teams in countries like France, Greece and Croatia. Last season he played for  Spartak St.Petersburg (Russia-PBL, starting five): 15 games: 8.1ppg, 3.2rpg, 3.5apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 58.8%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 72.4%; VTB League: 21 games: 9.5ppg, 3.2rpg, 3.0apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 60.8%, 3PT: 14.3%, FT: 78.1%; EuroCup: 14 games: 11.4ppg, 3.6rpg, Assists-4(5.5apg), Steals-5(1.6spg), FGP: 67.4%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 72.4%. Rakim Sanders is a 24 year old 193cm guard from Rhode Island that is playing his second professional season and first with Bamberg. The American has the complete package and will help combat the Bamberg rebound problem. He played at Boston College and  Fairfield (NCAA). He had a  Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Pre-NBA Draft), but remained undrafted playing  3 games: Score-2(19.3ppg), 8.7rpg, 1.3apg, 1.0spgAs a rookie he played for  Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv (Israel-Premier League); Balkan League: 15 games: 13.3ppg, in pre-season landed to Altshuler Saham Galil Gilboa (Israel-Premier League, starting five): 28 games: 12.7ppg, 3.9rpg, 1.7apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 59.0%, 3PT: 39.0%, FT: 64.7%, 6.3rpg, 1.6apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 60.9%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 73.2%. D or Fischer is a 32 year old 211c. center from Philadelphia that is playing his second season in Germany and first with Bamberg. He played at Northwestern State and West Virginia before turning professional in 2005. He paid his dues playing in Poland, Germany and Belgium before getting two fat contracts for top teams Macabbi Tel Aviv and Real Madrid. His 74 Euroleague games are priceless. He started the season with the Washington Wizards before getting released. Last season he played for  BC Donetsk (Ukraine-Superleague, starting five): VTB League: 18 games: 10.3ppg, 6.2rpg, 2.3apg, 1.3bpg, FGP-3(63.5%), FT: 73.5%; Ukrainian Superleague: 38 games: 11.0ppg, 7.4rpg, 2.8apg, Blocks-2(1.9bpg), FGP-2(62.3%), FT: 78.4%; EuroCup: 6 games: 10.3ppg, 5.7rpg, 1.5apg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 70.0%, 7reb, 2ast, 5blocks. Novica Velickovic is a 27 year old 205cm from Serbia He has played for top teams like Partitan Belgrad and Real Madrid and has much experience having played 116 Euroleague games. Last season he played for Mega Vizura (Serbia-A League): 13 games: 14.6ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.6apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 52.0%, 3PT: 38.1%, FT: 71.7%. The club recently added Elias Harris to make their roster another tic deeper. Harris is a 24 year old 203cm forward from Speyer Germany that made the dream to the NBA, but lasted only two games. He is a natural born power forward; he is a very strong kid with physical power who loves (of course) the Physical game. His ability in the shooting gives him another advantage in the court as he can play also at the small forward positions in case needed.He started his basketball career at SG TV Durkheim and first opened eyes afte rhis strong PRO B season in 2008-2009 with BIS Baskets Speyer playing 26 games: Score-4(20.9ppg), Reb-4(9.2rpg), 1.7apg, 1.6spg, Blocks-4(1.0bpg), FGP: 55.7%, 3PT: 22.8%, FT: 78.3%. He then had a stellar four year career at Gonzaga playing a total of 136 NCAA games and played  14.3ppg, 7.5rpg, 1.5apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 54.5%, 3PT: 16.7%, FT: 76.5%.He also played at the 2009 European championships and 2010 World championships.



The Skyliners have a massive negative record on the road in Bamberg going six years without a win until the Beko BBL playoffs 2010 where the club of Gordon Herbert won in game one 65-63. Who could forget the embarrassing 81-48 loss in 2007 which was the last game for Skyliner coach Charles Barton. In 2009-2010 the club won twice winning in the regular season 84-80 as the team was led by American point guard Aubrey Reese with 18 points. They won a second time in game four of the 2010 finalswith a 69-56 win sending the 2010 BEKO BBL finals back to Bamberg as Alba Berlin American Derrick Allen led the charge with 19 points and seven rebounds. In the first meeting in 2010-2011, The Brose Baskets Bamberg were able to pull out a hard fought 71-62 win as they rallied from being down 60-55 and ended the game with a 16-2 run. Anton Gavel led all scorers with 19 points and Reyshawn Terry added 15 points. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were led by Dashaun Wood with 15 points, but he steered only two assists. Brad Buckman and Jimmy Mckinney chipped in with 10 points a piece. Bamberg was able to shoot over 40% from the field and outside while Frankfurt didnt have the touch from the three point line at only 29%. In the second game at home, Bamberg won easily 81-63. Since the 2005-2006 season, the Skyliners have a miserable 5-17 record against the six time Beko BBL champion Brose Baskets Bamberg. In 2010-2011 they lost four times in Bamberg, in the Champions Cup, against Bamberg and twice in Cup play against Braunschweig and the Artland Dragons. In 2011-2012, the Fraport Skyliners stunk up the Stechert arena with a degrading 97-63 loss. Julius Jenkins led Bamberg with 20 points while Jon Leuer produced 17 points and 14 rebounds. In the return game, the Fraport Skyliners gave a spirited effort winning in sensational style 76-68. Frankfurt had a strong 16-7 third quarter leading the team to the win. Jimmy Mckinney had 19 points while Marcus Slaughter had 15 points. Last season in the first game, despite a strong first half by Frankfurt, Bamberg was able to prevail in the second half wining 76-67. Anton Gavel led Bamberg with 19 points and the ex NBA players Casey Jacobson and Bostjan Nachbar contributed 14 points a piece, while ex Skyliner Ted Scott produced 14 points. In the return game in Frankfurt, the Fraport Skyliners took apart Bamberg 77-64 as they were led by American Dawan Robinsonwith19 points,  Ryan Brooks added 13 points and Zack Peacock 12 points. Bamberg was led by Anton Gavel with 22 points. Frankfurt did a superb job controlling the boards and showing their aggressive Katzurian defense.

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