Can A Young German Player Make The Breakthrough With Alba Berlin This Season?

When looking at the Alba Berlin rosters the last seven years, one has stumbled across very well known basketball names that have made a name for themselves, but finding a young German player that was able to come up in the ranks in the organization, develop through the years and make an impact for the eight time Beko BBL club was as beautifully hidden and as nonexistent as a Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose have been for their respective teams this season as injuries have taken over their basketball lives. If you look at the German players that have started their career in Berlin and then left and made strides elsewhere for teams in the Beko BBL, then that list is as huge as the engagement rings that the future Mrs Dwayne Wade Gabrilelle Union has flaunted in public or that of the future Mrs Carl Crawford Evelyn Lozada has shown off in Beverly Hills, California. Ex Alba Berlin player like Nicolai Simon never got a chance in Berlin and finally became a German national player as a member of the Walter Tigers Tuebingen in 2013 after leaving Berlin in 2008. The most classic case was Philipp Zwiener that played a total of 114 Beko BBL games with Alba Berlin, but never was able to really develop into a high profile player that was contributing the way a Steffen Hamann or Heiko Schaffartzik did. Zwiener went to TBB Trier and was able to get minutes under 1993 NCAA champion Henrik Rodl and make the next step as a player and then move on to the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven where he hasn´t become that impact player the club was hoping for, but has been a solid contributer. Another player that Alba Berlin gave up on was Andreas Seifert who was in their system from 2006-2011, but played only eight Beko BBL games. In 2011, what a surprise he also went the TBB Trier route and increased his minutes each season and has gotten the needed self confidence under Rodl and he has taken full advantage of it. He recently led TBB Trier to an upset in Bonn steering 27 points and showing American Jamel Mcclean who was the real boss in his beloved living room. Another classic example was Lucca Staiger who came to Alba after playing 49 NCAA games at Iowa State, but also never got a chance that was billed right away as a liability on defense and played only 69 Beko BBL games for Alba Berlin. The low point came in the 2011-2012 season when he was forced to play Pro B games for Alba Berlin 2 team. Last season Sasa Obradovic was too occupied on making a good impression in his first season as he didn´t give any suitable minutes to young Germans Joey Ney, Sebastian Fulle or David Herwig. This season he quickly displayed more of an interest in not only getting young German talents like Johannes Wohlfarth-Bottermann or the disgruntled Akeem Vargas minutes whos career looked as good as over after never getting a chance in Tuebingen and having to go to the Pro A and BG Goettingen and earning his contract with Alba Berlin after a strong season there averaging  33 games: 13.8ppg, 4.7rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 38.9%, FT: 81.1%. Wohlfarth-Bottermann has gained valuable experience in Bonn and last season played  36 games: 5.4ppg, 3.6rpg, Blocks-5(1.1bpg), FGP: 60.9%, FT: 49.1%; EuroChallenge: 14 games: 7.4ppg, 5.4rpg, Blocks-1(1.6bpg), FGP: 57.1%, FT: 26.8%. Vargas is averaging 16 minutes per game and Bottermann 12,5 minutes per game. Of course, it is double as difficult to get minutes on a team like Alba Berlin where they are occupied at each position with two good players and it will be interesting to see how these two guys will continue to get minutes and develop as the season moves on. It is already worth lauding that Obradovic has had the audacity to give German players a chance in a basketball environment that seemingly has been more occupied with going the safe route than trying to experiment and give German players a chance.

Every season without a title in Berlin is as disappointing as a boyfriend forgetting the big bag of popcorn with butter at the flick, because both is expected in Berlin as in the local movie theater and not winning a title in Berlin had been the norm for some years in Berlin. Before last season the last time Alba Berlin won a title was the 2009 Beko BBL cup in Hamburg. Since then they had gone without any new hardware until last season where despite losing early in the playoffs to FC Bayern Munich, the season wasn´t a total waste as they won the cup, but did beat the most famous German sports team on the way to their only title last season. They finished last season in fifth place with a record of 20-14 an din the off season had to watch how many Alba players fled to Munich where it seemed like the dollars were being waved around and the temptation was just to big not to except. Guys like Nihah Djedovic, Yassin Idbihi, Heiko Schaffartzik and Deon Thompson escaped to Bavaria to play Euroleague. The club did the most radical house cleaning in the whole Beko BBL and one of the greatest in their club history as they only kept veteran Sven Schulze who just keeps coming back despite his hair getting greyer and young German Sebastian Fulle. This years team is deeper, has more experienced German players, have more individual quality and are stronger and more physical under the boards. The club also has  very good mix of not too many Americans, but also very capable young Germans, a Croatian, Macedonian, Canadian and a player from Israel. This season Alba Berlin have started very strong with their biggest win a 20 point victory against FC Bayern Munich, an easy win against ratiopharm Ulm, manhandled Ludwigsburg 83-52 and they could be  a lot higher in the standings had they not lost to Bamberg and Artland combined by only five points. Alba Berlin come into the game with a big 74-64 win in Tuebingen and have a huge program with five games in the last 11 days. The Fraport Skyliners know that they have to be focused to come away with a win in their own living room. Jacob Burtschi will get surgery today and will be out indefinitely and Andrew Rautins wont return until Febuary. “Alba Berlin plays even more aggressive defense than Bamberg so we will have to be awake. We will have to get back quickly on defense and if we play sloppy like in Bamberg than we will have problems”, stated German Johannes Voigtmann. The Fraport Skyliners want to start another winning streak and continue their winning streak at home. “We have to take better care of the ball, rebound and get more stops”, warned Jarred Dubois.

The club held on to Sven Schultze who is is a 35 year old 206cm power forward that was born in Bamberg. He is a very strong player with a deadly shot. With his size, he will post up the opponents small forwards and outrun the opponents power forwards. He is able to defend bigger players, but also agile enough to defend smaller ones. He can drop the three pointer in a variety of ways which gives you so many more ways of using him. He also is very dangerous on the fast break as he can with the speed of a point guard and then dunk. He started his career with Bamberg and then played for Alba Berlin from 1998-2002 winning four BEKO BBL titles. He then played for the Bayer Giants Leverkusen until 2005 before going south to Play in Italy in Milian, Udine and Biella. he also played shortly in Greece for Larissa. He finished the 2009-2010 season  playing for Ferrara (Italy-SerieA): 13 games: 8.8ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.2spg, FGP: 60.6%, 3PT: 41.5%, FT: 75.0%. He won a silver in Belgrad in 2005 at the European Championships and played at the Olympic games 2008 in Bejing. In 2010-2011 for Alba Berlin he played EuroCup: 12 games: 4.7ppg, 2.3rpg; Euroleague Qualifying Round: 2 games: 3.5ppg, 1.5rpg; German League: 43 games: 3.1ppg, 1.3rpg. Last season, he played 35 games: 2.8ppg, 1.1rpg; Euroleague: 18 games: 2.3ppg. He is playing his eighth season with Alba Berlin. The biggest signing of the season was 32 year old 185cm guard David Logan from Indianapolis, Indiana that also ha sthe Polish citizenship. As a senior at Indianapolis he played 29 games: ScoreNCAA2-1(28.6ppg), 4.4rpg, 5.0apg, 1.9spg, FGP: 48.1%, 3PT: 41.0%, FT: 78.8%: Finished collegiate career as the all-time leading scorer in Indianapolis and GLVC history with 2,352 points. He never played in the NBA, but has played in all the top leagues in Europe and has been at the high point of his career the last two seasons playing for top Euroleague teams Athens and Tel Aviv. Lasts eason for Tel Aviv he played 34 games: 9.9ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.7apg, FGP-2(65.2%), 3PT: 39.8%, FT: 80.0%; Euroleague: 27 games: 10.6ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.2apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 58.0%, 3PT: 43.4%, FT: 64.0%. He has played 101 Euroleague games and kills you with his quickness and fast shooting.

The team also added Reggie Redding who is playing his fourth professional season despite being only 25 years old. Redding is a 196cm guard from Philadelphia and possesses a great feel for the game, moves well without the ball, offers size and the ability to score from the guard position. He played at Villanova (NCAA) with ex BG Goettingen forward Dwayne Anderson and in his senior year played 23 games: 7.3ppg, 4.7rpg, 2.4apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 40.8%, 3PT: 39.5%, FT: 63.8%. he reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2008.  As a rookie he played for InterCollege Etha Engomis (Cyprus-Division A) winning the league and cup title and played 16 games: 9.5ppg, 4.3rpg, 2.1apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 46.1%, 3PT: 44.4%, FT: 73.9%; EuroChallenge: 8 games: 7.0ppg, 3.4rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 40.0%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 62.5%. In 2011-2012 for Tuebingen he played 34 games: 13.2ppg, 5.8rpg, 3.3apg, Steals-3(1.4spg), FGP: 50.6%, 3PT: 41.4%, FT: 69.0%. For his strong season in the Beko BBL, he received All-German Bundesliga 2nd Team -12, German Bundesliga All-Imports Team -12, and German Bundesliga All-Newcomers Team -12. Last season for Tuebingen he played  34 games: 14.0ppg, 5.4rpg, 4.1apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 52.8%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 81.1%. The club also added Vojdan Stojanovski from Macedonia who is a 26 year old 194cm guard that is a great shooter, can defend the positions 1-3 and brings much intensity to the court. Last season he played for  BC Donetsk (Ukraine-Superleague, starting five): VTB League: 20 games: 9.5ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.7apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 55.8%, 3PT: 30.2%, FT: 84.4%; Ukrainian Superleague: 34 games: 10.6ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.7apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 49.7%, 3PT: 39.8%, FT: 85.4%; EuroCup: 6 games: 11.3ppg, 2.5rpg, 2.2apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 53.6%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 93.3%. Levon Kendall is a 29 year old 209cm power forward from Vancouver, Canada that ha sthe Canadian and Irish citizenship. He is a player that is capable to play all the three front court positions; has great rebounding skills, and can score from any position, with range also from behind the parking lot. He played at Pittsburgh(NCAA) from 2003-2007 reaching two NCAA Sweet 16´s. In his seventh professional season, Germany is only his third country as he has played three seasons in Greece and three seasons in Spain. Last season he played for  Blusens Monbus Obradoiro CAB (Spain-Liga Endesa): 36 games: 12.2ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.4apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 47.1%, 3PT: 20.0%, FT: 75.0%.

Clifford Hammonds is a 28 year old 191cm point guard from Georgia that is playing his sixth professional season and in his sixth country. He played at Clemson(NCAA) and has played in countries like Turkey, Greece, France nad Bosnia. He is an untypical lefty that likes to play physical and can drive to the hoop with the best of them. Last season he won the cup with  Blusens Monbus Obradoiro CAB (Spain-Liga Endesa): 36 games: 12.2ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.4apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 47.1%, 3PT: 20.0%, FT: 75.0%. Jonas Wohlfarth-Bottermann is a 23 year old 208cm center that is playing his first season for Alba Berlin. He started his career in the Bonn organization. He already played for Bonn as an 18 year old and is a player that gives much effort on each play and moves very well for his size. Last season for Bonn he played : 36 games: 5.4ppg, 3.6rpg, Blocks-5(1.1bpg), FGP: 60.9%, FT: 49.1%; EuroChallenge: 14 games: 7.4ppg, 5.4rpg, Blocks-1(1.6bpg), FGP: 57.1%, FT: 26.8%. Alex King is a 28 year old 200cm forward from Munich, Germany. King started his basketball career in Frankfurt playing for The Deutsche Bank Skyliners from 2002-2008. In that span he won the German league title in 2004 and was a finalist in 2005 and played a total of 129 BBL games for Frankfurt. He played for the Telekom Baskets Bonn from 2008-20011 playing a total of 101 Beko BBL games. In 2010-2011 for Bonn he played EuroChallenge: 6 games: 2.5ppg, 4.0rpg; German League: 31 games: 4.9ppg, 2.3rpg. He played the last two seasons for Wurzburg and last season played 34 games: 7.0ppg, 4.2rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 48.3%, 3PT: 30.6%, FT: 70.0%; EuroCup: 6 games: 8.5ppg, 4.8rpg, FGP: 31.3%, 3PT: 54.2%, FT: 28.6%. His rebounding and first step are his best attributes in his game. Jagla is a 32 year old 213cm forward from Berlin Germany. A seven-foot power forward with the skill set of a guard. Can post up and score inside and is a great three point shooter as well. Was compared too much times to Dirk Nowitzki at his teenage days, and this limited his maturation. He started his basketball career at Lichterfelde and then went to the States to play NCAA ball at Penn St. He then played for Panellinios Athens (Greece-A1): 3 games: 2.3ppg, 1.0rpg: released in Nov.’04 and joined Artland Dragons Quakenbrueck (1.Bundesliga): 26 games: 6.7ppg, 3.3rpg, 1.0bpg, 2FGP: 55.6%, 3FGP: 30.2%. In 2005-2006, he had a taste of the NBA playing with the Los Angeles Clippers (NBA), waived in Oct.’05, then signed at Drac Inca Mallorca (Spain-LEB, starting five): 28 games: 11.3ppg, Reb-5(7.8rpg), 1.4bpg, 2FGP: 49.3%, 3PT: 34.2%, FT: 77.1%. From 2006-2011, he played for top teams in Europe including Turk Telekom Ankara, DKV Joventut Badalona (Spain-ACB,) from 2007-2009 where he played with Demond Mallet and Ricky Rubio and helped win the ULEB Cup in 2008. He played two years for Polish Euroleague team Asseco Prokom Gdynia . He has played 40 Euroleague games and has been part of the German national team since 2006. He played the last two season for FC Bayern Munich and last season played  38 games: 7.3ppg, 3.6rpg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 37.7%, FT: 83.0%.

Leon Radosevic is a 23 year old 208cm power forward from Croatia that is playing his first season for Alba Berlin and has a good understanding for the game for his age and is flexible at both big man positions. He played many years for top Croatian team KK Cibona and has played 35 Euroleague games. Last season he played for  Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius (Lithuania-LKL): VTB League: 11 games: 9.5ppg, 4.5rpg, FGP: 48.6%, FT: 63.5%; Euroleague: 10 games: 9.8ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.1apg, 1.0spg, 2FGP: 54.3%, FT: 71.0%; Lithuanian LKL: 5 games: 11.2ppg, 5.0rpg, 1.6spg, 1.0bpg, 2FGP: 56.4%, FT: 70.6%; VTB United League: 11 games: 9.5ppg, 4.5rpg, 2FGP: 48.6%, FT: 63.5%, in Jan.’13 moved to EA7 Emporio Armani Milano (Italy-SerieA): 18 games: 5.2ppg, 2.3rpg, FGP: 55.9%, FT: 77.8%. Akeem Vargas is a 23 year old 192cm guard that started his basketball career at the SG Urspringschule junior team. He played a season for Iowa Lakes CC (JUCO). He played for the Walter Tigers Tuebingen from 2010-2012, but never got a real chance to prove himself there playing a total of 22 Beko BBL games. Last season he took a step back and played for BG Goettingen (Germany-ProA, starting five): 33 games: 13.8ppg, 4.7rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 38.9%, FT: 81.1%. His biggest strength is his defense and can penetrate well to the basket. Bar Timor is a 21 year old 192cm guard that has the German/Israel citizenship. He is a well developing point guard with experience having played in Israel. Last season he played for  Hapoel Tel-Aviv (Winner League, starting five): 30 games: 7.6ppg, 2.5rpg, 2.9apg, FGP: 55.7%, 3PT: 36.1%, FT: 67.2%. A project in the making is still Ismet Akpinar who is an 18 year old 192cm point guard who has Turkisch roots. The U-18 German national team started his basketball career for  BC Hamburg Tigers junior team. He played the last two seasons for SC Rist Wedel and last season played SC Rist Wedel (ProB, starting five): 22 games: 6.1ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 37.8%, 3PT: 27.0%, FT: 87.5.

Since the climatic semi final win over Alba Berlin in 2005, where guys like Chris Williams and Tyrone Ellis led the then Opel Skyliners into the BBL final, Frankfurt has only a 10-17record against the Albatros, but have built installed a special albatross cage in the Ballsporthalle which has rewarded them with a  5-3 record. One of the biggest and most emotional wins in the last years was the 81-67 trouncing in January 2006 as it was the debut of ex Skyliner coach Charles Barton. It was only a shame that the team was unable to take this big win and grow off it as they won little more that season and had to win on the last day at home against The EWE Baskets Oldenburg to stay in the BBL. Some nice wins in the last years was the 74-58 win in 2008 as American Derrick Allen added 19 points and six rebounds and in 2009, they won 73-66 as ex Skyliner Lorenzo Gordon chipped in with 15 points and six rebounds. In the 2009-2010 season, the two teams split the season series 1-1 as Alba Berlin held Frankfurt to 53 points in the Ballsporthalle and winning. Frankfurt returned to Berlin to win 76-70 as Derrick Allen led the team with 18 points. Frankfurt then surprisingly kicked out Alba Berlin in the playoffs 3-1 winning game four at home 69-58 as Derrick Allen had 26 points. In the first meeting in 2010-2011, Alba Berlin escaped the O-2 World arena with a 81-77 win. Frankfurt led for 36 minutes before Alba Berlin put on the turbo and went on a 8-2 run which sparked the win. Dashaun Wood led all players with 32 points and Derrick Allen chipped in with 17 points for Alba Berlin. Alba Berlin shot 57% from the field and 44% from the parking lot, but Frankfurt had control of the boards 31-21. In the second meeting in 2010-2011, Alba Berlin prevailed 79-70 as Dashaun Wood led Frankfurt with 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and ex Skyliner Derrick Allen had 18 points. Frankfurt lost in the 2011 Beko BBL semi finals 3-2 . In 2011-2012 the Fraport Skyliners stunk out their Fraport arena with a 83-57 loss where Dashaun Wood led all scorers with 21 points and also lost a close game 70-66 in Berlin. Last season, The Fraport Skyliners were walloped in Berlin losing 91-65 as they had little chance. Frankfurt didn´t shoot so bad hitting over 40% from the field and outside, but were clobbered under the boards 36-22 and relinquished 19 turnovers. In the return meeting in Frankfurt, the Fraport Skyliners won an exciting 65-62 nail bitter as Quantez Robertson had 16 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, Ryan Brooks had 15 points and Zach Peacock had 14 points. Alba Berlin was led by Dashaun Wood with 24 points

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