Air is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, gaseous mixture, mainly nitrogen (approximately 78 percent) and oxygen (approximately 21 percent) with lesser amounts of argon, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, neon, helium, and other gases. If basketball players ever think about this is most likely not the case when they are on the floor battling opponents and being highly concentrated in the offensive set and how to shut down the other team on defense. Most players use this giant void of nothingness that we breath as a place to roam over the court with or with out the ball while other players use this mixture with varying amounts of moisture and particulate matter, enveloping the earth; the atmosphere flying to the basket with the ground way beneath them. There have been many players over the years that have had that distinction of using the air on flight to the basket with the most famous example being Michael Jordan who had the atmosphere named in his shoe air jordan´s, but the NBA legend could fly to the hole from the free throw line as if it was as easy as walking down the street to the nearest bank to see how much his account as risen. Another fine example has been Vince Carter who was given one of many nicknames like Air Canada which seems to have stuck the most because of his amazing hang time when soaring through the atmosphere for that next slam dunk. Even if Vince Carter will forever have the distinction of being the main AIR recipient the nickname has crossed over to other players playing currently in Germany like Canadian Terry Thomas who has brought the Hamburg arena at the Insel park into a frenzy after a crushing dunk or Ryan Brooks who likes that airtime when cruising to the bucket for the dunk. Brooks is a 26 year old 193 cm guard from Narbeth, Pennsylvania playing his fifth season and except for a season in Finland for Namika Lahti (Finland-Korisliiga), he has stayed faithful to the German Beko BBL having played one and half seasons with Giessen a half a season with the Fraport Skyliners and currently is playing his second season for the Telekom Baskets Bonn. Brooks has always been a guy who has been in the dunk highlights as he already showed his air Brooks ability at Temple(NCAA) and through his professional basketball career. Who could forget the Quantez Robertson to Ryan Brooks combination in Frankfurt that often tore the roof of the Fraport arena or his spectacular dunks at the 2014 Beko BBL Allstar game in Bonn when he came out wearing a flight captain´s uniform . “Ryan is one of the most athletic shooting guards that I have ever played with. His explosive jumping ability from both feet is extraordinary. That is why he is called Air Brooks”, stressed Andrej Magold. However it isn´t only his athleticism that has given Brooks a name, but his amazing intensity that he brings to the court on every play. He isn´t known for his three point shooting, but he has improved it over the years as his mid distance jumper remains his bread and butter. On a team that has possibly the best point guard duo in the BBL that is only known and respected in Bonn with Eugene Lawrence and Richard Mcconnell and many scorers, the role of Brooks is different. “He brings energy form the bench and makes our game more versatile on offense”, stressed Bonn teammate Andrej Mangold. The scoring of Brooks has been down this season compared to the last few seasons in Giessen and Frankfurt, but he has improved in other areas and been that much more valuable to the team. “Ryan has become more versatile and his jump shot is more consistent”, warned Andrej Mangold. Currently Bonn is in fourth place with a record of 15-9 and sitting on the doorstep of the big three of Berlin, Bamberg and Munich. Just having the presence of Brooks on the court is always important and he is an important part of the success. “I am not sure where we would have been without him, but I am sure we would have had 1-2 less wins. Especially in the win against BG Goettingen he was very important. His one on one ball defesne is a hidden strength in his game as he defended El Amin at the end”, added Andrej Mangold. If Bonn can make a run in the BBL playoffs is very much possible as the presence of Brooks in the atmosphere will always be crucial wheather he is flying through the air or running through the air leading Bonn to the next victory.
The Beko BBL playoffs has been a usual occurrence for the Telekom Baskets like it is for Boston Red Sox David Ortiz racking in 30 home runs and 100 RBI´s each season as in the last 18 years the club missed the promised land in May only twice in 2005 and 2011. Since the unsatisfactory season in 2010-2011 where the team finished in 13th place, the club has reached the Beko BBL playoffs the last three seasons. After two seventh place finishes, head coach Michael Koch left and the team hauled in Matthias Fischer who had won titles in Austria and in 2012-2013 experienced a bitter season in Giessen where there were financial woes and he had to play with an almost all German roster in the second half of the season. However that didn´t shy Bonn from getting the coach and Fischer did a magnificent job last season leading the team to a fifth place finish and a tough 5 game series loss to the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. The biggest victories was sweeping Oldenburg in the regular season and beating ratiopharm Ulm. The club showed a lot of moral and fighting spirit coming back twice to tie the playoff series with Oldenburg and had they won game three in Oldenburg which they lost in OT 72-71 then they would have been on to the next round the semi finals, but in basketball it isn´t over until the fat lady sings.
With the Beko BBL getting stronger and stronger each season, making predictions is difficult where a Beko BBL team will end up at the end of the season, but when looking at the current roster of the Telekom Baskets Bonn one has to utter the famous Arsenio Hall words “something that makes you go hmmmmmmmmmmmmm” as to if Bonn can make the jump to the top 4 teams this season. That were my words in October and now on March fifth, 2015, the Telekom Baskets Bonn are sitting in fourth place behind Bamberg, Berlin and Munich. Bonn did a great job keeping that team chemistry from last season very much intact by keeping seven players. The two most important players that they kept were sharp shooter and Bonn fan favorite Benas Veikalas who can smile with the best of them and has been in the Telekom city since 2011 and last season the 31 year old played Eurocup: 10 games: 15.6ppg, 2.2rpg, 2.5apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 51.9%, 3PT: 39.7%, FT-3(96.4%); German League: 39 games: 13.1ppg, 2.4rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 49.4%, 3PT: 40.6%, FT: 84.2% and scorer and Mr energy Ryan Brooks. Brooks who has played for Giessen, Frankfurt and in Finland and last season for Bonn played Eurocup: 10 games: 9.9ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.2apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 56.4%, 3PT: 22.2%, FT: 73.1%; German League: 39 games: 14.1ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 50.9%, 3PT: 37.1%, FT: 84.0%. The team also held American Eugene Lawrence who knows the team philosophy and will take his strong playoff play into this season. The team also held 31 year old role player Steve Wachalski who gives the team energy from the bench and can hit the big shot and play when needed in chaos situations played six straight years in the German Regionaliga and two in the Pro B before getting a chance in the Beko BBL in 2010 with Bayreuth. Last season the German played Eurocup: 10 games: 3.7ppg; German League: 38 games: 3.8ppg, 1.7rpg. The club also held young 22 year old German Floran Koch and experienced 27 year old veteran Andrej Mangold who has been with the club since 2011 and is a superb back up point guard and the teams best defender that will give the opponents fits even long after the game is over when he is trying to enjoy his meal at Mcdonalds and can´t because he is involved with his thoughts on the plays that the German broke up. Last season Mangold played Eurocup: 9 games: 1.2ppg, 1.3rpg; German League: 39 games: 4.1ppg, 1.9rpg.
The club brought in very sold new players with Angelo Caloiaro who was the most efficient player in the Beko BBL last season. After a strong senior year at USF and solid rookie season in the Bulgarian league, the 25 year old San Jose native tore up the Beko BBL with MBC playing 34 games: 14.3ppg, Reb-3(6.8rpg), 2.2apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 58.4%, 3PT: 34.5%, FT: 76.6%. The team also brought in point guard Richard Mcconnell who is just oozing with break out potential in the Beko BBl, 32 year old big man Tadas Klimavicius who has much experience with six seasons at B.C. Zalgiris Kaunas and 78 Euroleague games and big man Tony Wroblicky who is a project coming from the NCAA from American (NCAA), but showed right away in his first game that he can adjust to the Beko BBL scoring 12 points and grabbing 6 rebounds in 13 minutes. The American is 22 years old and improved his scoring at American each season and as a senior played 32 games: 12.3ppg, 7.3rpg, 2.9apg, 1.1spg, 1.9bpg, FGP: 58.6%, FT: 72.5%. The team also brought in basketball European traveler Dirk Madrich who with Bonn will be playing for his 11th professional team having had international experience in France with Strasbourg IG (France-ProA) in 2006-2007 playing ULEB Cup: 13 games: 4.1ppg, 2.8rpg; French League: 31 games: 4.5ppg, 2.7rpg. He had his second spring with Vechta last season at age 30 belonging to the top German players in the Beko BBL and played 34 games averaging 11.6ppg, 4.7rpg, FGP: 45.3%, 3PT: 39.0%, FT: 70.4% Last but not least the team also hauled in Valentin Blass who made the jump from the Bonn Regionaliga team.
So what has been the secret to the success of Bonn this season? The mix from last season keeping some of that chemistry intact plus the correct new pieces of the puzzle this season have made the Bonn season a success so far as they have a 15-8 record at the moment. The club rebounded nicely after losing three of their first four games then winning five or their next six games getting a healthy balance and needed confidence. After losing to Munich and Hagen, the club since then have a 9-2 record. Their biggest strength is that they have owned crunch time winning for games by a combined score of 10 points only beating feisty Crailsheim twice by three points, MBC in OT 99-96 and BG Goettingen 66-65. Their offense is another big strength as they have scored 80 plus points in 15 games this season. They also have defended better in the last four games having held the opponent to an average of only 69 points per game. Bonn has four players scoring in double figures with Klimavicius, Caloiaro, Brooks and Veikalas. They have found two solid veteran role players in Dirk Madrich and Steve Wachalski who are 31 and 32 and can still play. The Fraport Skyliners return back to Bonn where they will be rested as they had no Eurochallenge game and take a seven game winning streak to Bonn. As they currently rest in seventh place with a record of 13-11. After having the overtime bug in four of five games, Frankfurt was able to take a breather from testing their nerves easily disposing of MBC 93-76 last weekend. Jacob Burtschi continues to be perfect since returning to Frankfurt filling in for injured Danilo Barthel giving the team the needed energy on the court and with his shooting while Justin Cobbs continues to lead the team as he has scored in double figures in 20 straight games. Johannes Voigtmann had his best scoring game as a professional with 27 against MBC as he is playing great at the moment and Aaron Doornekamp is slowly finding his groove. Frankfurt won the first game this season in Frankfurt 84-71 as Sean Armand had 17 points and Danilo Barthel contributed 14 points. Bonn was led by Richard Mcconnell with 22 points. History speaks against Frankfurt as It doesn´t matter if Frankfurt played at the old gym or in the new arena in Bonn they have lost 12 games in a row there. The last time, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners won in Bonn, New England patriot Tom Brady had not sipped champagne yet as a third Super Bowl winner, Jurgen Klinsmann was still coach of the German national soccer team, Paul Potts was still selling cell phones and singing in front of the mirror and the terrifying Tsunami was only a few days old as Frankfurt won in Bonn on January 1st 2005 with a 79-67 win as Chris Williams exploded with 27 points and 16 rebounds. Frankfurt does have a 7 game winning streak and the only player that has lost the most in Bonn is Quantez Robertson who might forget of the curse for one day. This should be an interesting battle of two teams that could be the sleepers in the playoffs. The Telekom Baskets Bonn host the Fraport Skyliners March seventh.