2015 Beko BBL Quarterfinal Playoff Preview: Brose Baskets Bamberg-MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg 3-1

It really doesn´t matter where Ludwigsburg head coach John Patrick has been, if it was in Japan with Toyota Alvark, with BG Goettingen or the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg, he was always able to build winning teams and with the case of BG Goettingen make successful teams out of low budgets and sending unknown rookie players on to bigger and better teams after letting them develop in Goettingen. The only thing missing from the Resume of the American is getting that golden opportunity one day to coach a top team in Germany. Patrick is now in his second full season with the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg and most likely has had the best budget to work with the last two seasons as he has brought that special NBA flair to the small southern German town with guys like John Stockton son Michael, versatile Coby Karl, 2015 top BBL scorer DJ Kennedy or the bearded beast 2015 BBL top rebounder Jon Brockman. Especially in the last few years, Patrick has had his experience with annoying top teams here and there as with the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg kicked out an arrogant Alba Berlin in 2012 to reach the semi-finals where ex Beko BBL MVP Dashaun Wood was given a clinic by ex Northern Iowa bull dog John Little as he played the offensive series of his life or last season as Patrick took a solid team against Germany´s most famous team FC Bayern Munich who surely had their best team ever and fought and clawed, but lost in four games. Even if they lost by a total combined point total of 83 points, this experience made FC Bayern Munich stronger as they had a few more unappetizing wars with Oldenburg needing five games to advance to the final and four games to win the 2014 BBL title against Alba Berlin. The opportunity to continue to annoy top teams and even or upset continues this season as Ludwigsburg have a best of five series against 6 time Beko BBL champion Brose Baskets Bamberg that promises to be a hard fought series as both teams split the season series as games were decided by only 16 points. Win or lose, one thing is for certain, John Patrick will surely get the best advice on trying out new Italian dishes as Bamberg head coach Andrea Trinchieri could be a premium cuisine tour guide for the American if he wished for it.

After toiling around in no mans land in the BBL standings the last years, it wasn´t until the arrival of the fireman John Patrick in January 2013 where he saved the team from moving down and then prompt in his first full season finally led the club back to the playoffs with an eighth place finish and did again this season. The club went into the season with a fine roster, but underachieved in the first few months and finally put it together shortly before the new year starting a winning streak and winning six of seven games. With a month to go in the season, they were involved in an intense fight with 4-5 other teams to catch that last playoff spot and did finishing with class winning three of their last four including games against direct competitors Braunschweig and BG Goettingen on the last game day. Their biggest wins of the season were against Bamberg, Alba Berlin and the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. The team packed with scoring power and top league scorer DJ Kennedy weren´t always able to convince all with their talent with consistent scoring power as they scored 80 or more points 16 times. They had some very good phases defending, but weren´t always able to be consistent as they relinquished 80 points or more 16 times. They had some top defensive showing keeping Alba Berlin to 55 points and MBC to 53 points. The club is led by American DJ Kennedy(18,0ppg, 6,1rpg, 3,0apg) who came in December, but needed no time to adjust as he scored in double figures in 18 of 23 games and scored 20 or more points 11 times. His versatility as a swing man is priceless as he was second in team rebounding and second in assists. American Kerron Johnson(14,4ppg, 2,7rpg, 3,9apg) also made a good adjustment coming from the lower league Australia NBL and took up much of the scoring bulk before Kennedy came on board, but also shone with his versatility. The BBL knew already on the first game day that he had game as he scored 38 points in 37 minutes against Bonn. Ex NBA player Jon Brockman(12,2ppg, 9,6rpg, 1,4apg) who played a total of 150 NBA games for the Bucks and Kings was an unstoppable beast in the paint registering 12 double double and in the last game where it counted most left a lasting memory for BG Goettingen as he powered his team into the playoffs with 22 points and 15 boards. Shawn Huff(10,8ppg, 3,8rpg) might be known as being a Finish defensive specialist, but his offense has always been exceptional. He was the teams best three point shooter and had his highest three point percentage as a professional this season He scored in double figures 20 times including a 23 point effort against BG Goettingen. Michael Stockton(9,0ppg, 2,6rpg, 2,6apg) is playing his second season with Ludwigsburg and his stats may be down from last season, but he remains a very controlled point guard that got really hot in the last two games netting 26 points against Artland and 21 points against BG Goettingen. Veteran Adam Waleskowski(7,3ppg, 3,4rpg, 1,4apg) is playing his 10th professional season and second with Ludwigsburg and brings that strong inside out game each night. He scored in double figures 13 times including a potent 11 point 14 rebound game against ratiopharm Ulm. John Little(6,9ppg, 2,5rpg, 1,3apg) has played in only three places in Germany Goettingen, Wurzburg and Ludwigsburg and John Patrick was always his coach. Little has belonged to the top defensive guards in the league for years and is always a pest with his quick hands, but is also a solid offensive player He scored in double figures 10 times including a 15 point game against Crailsheim. Patrick Flomo(3,6ppg, 2,7rpg) may be 34, but can still bring energy from the bench and make the highlight reel with an ally-op dunk. Ex Bucknell(NCAA) center Chris Mcnaughton(2,0ppg, 1,0rpg) has been a journeyman in Germany and averaging only five minutes per game, but could be a starter for some other BBL teams. A qualified big man like this on the bench is a big plus should there be foul trouble at the big positions. Patrick also has Germans TIm Koch and Travis Warech to choose from from the bench if needed.

The Brose Baskets Bamberg finished the season with a record of 29-5 thanks to a win in Berlin on the last game day giving the team their fourth regular season title in the last five years. They had a 9-9 Eurocup season reaching the quarterfinal, but losing to Russian team Lokomotiv after losing by two points at home had all chances of advancing, but lost by 18 on the road. They lost in the final of the 2015 Beko BBL cup in Oldenburg 72-70 and now have only one more chance to win hardware this season if they can win nine games in the playoffs. Bamberg had a 16 game winning streak during the season which was halted by a loss against Ludwigsburg and then ended the season with a seven game winning streak. The team may be the deepest and most talented in the league and scored much whenever they wanted to amassing 80 points or more 23 times. Bamberg also belonged to the top defensive teams giving up 70 points or less 17 times. They had a span of six games where they averaged giving up only 58 points as they held TBB Trier to 44 points, and 57 points to scoring machine Phoenix Hagen and Braunschweig. The club has seven players that scored in double figures which shows how well they can share the ball and unselfishness is accepted. The club is led by American Ryan Thompson(13,8ppg, 2,6rpg, 2,4apg) who has had a great season after coming from the Belgium league has belonged to the most dangerous three point shooters on the team. He has scored in double figures 21 times including a 35 point explosion against ratiopharm Ulm. Brad Wanamaker(12,9ppg, 3,7rpg, 4,6apg) from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh(NCAA) is the teams MVP and has been the motor that has made the team so successful. He scored in double figures 23 times and was instrumental in the two wins against Alba Berlin scoring 21 points and 16 points. Ex Xavier player Josh Duncan(12,7ppg, 5,5rpg, 1,8apg) was troubled by injury this season playing only 18 games, but returned in April and will be key in the playoff run with his athletic inside out play. He had big games against FC Bayern Munich and Oldenburg with 22 and 21 points. EXMinnesota(NCAA) forward Trevor Mbakwe(10,5ppg, 7,0rpg, 1,0apg) who had 10 and 10 stats as a rookie with Virtus Roma has been a high flyer in the BBL and has been a regular on the highlight films this season as he is a beast on the offensive glass. He has scored in double figures 19 times including a 25 point 10 rebound game against Phoenix Hagen. Dawan Robinson(10,5ppg, 1,6rpg, 2,2apg) came in January and has been a vital spark from the bench giving his vast experience of 9 professional seasons as his physical stature gives him much advantage getting buckets inside while his outside shooting has been spot on at 48%. Latvian Janis Strelnieks(10,2ppg, 2,3rpg, 2,7apg) is the full package at the point guard position as he excels in pick and role and changing the tempo and has scored in double figures 20 times including a 31 point outburst against FC Bayern Munich. High energy player German Daniel Theis(10,2ppg, 5,2rpg, 1,3apg) who can play inside out with the best of them had a good start to the season then a lull in the middle and has finished strong scoring in double figures in the last five games including a 20 point game against ratiopharm Ulm. Ex NBA player Darius Miller(9,6ppg, 2,1rpg, 2,2apg)who played with the New Orleans Pelicans the last two years playing 97 games came very late to the team, but has been a reliable asset from the bench shooting 46% from outside. Ex Gonzaga(NCAA) player Elias Harris(7,0ppg, 3,2rpg) who played two NBA games with the Los Angeles Lakers forms the best power forward duo with Theis in the league. He has scored in double figures 9 times and has suffered a bit with the deep rotation, but he is always a dangerous player that can change a game. German Kartsen Tadda(3,5ppg, 2,1rpg, 1,1apg) has won the most of anyone on the team with 7 titles with Bamberg and is a real team player that is always capable of making a big play. Croatian Dalibor Bagaric(1,3ppg, 1,2rpg) who played three seasons with the Chicago Bulls is a 217cm 130 kilo center who doesn´t play much, but when he does no one really want to bump into inside. He adds to the vast depth on the team.

When inspecting the head to head team stats, the Brose Baskets Bamberg lead most categories including points scored per game, field goal percentage, three point field goal percentage, assists and turnovers while Ludwigsburg rebound a bit better. The teams split the season series winning in their respective arenas. Both games were close during the regular season as Bamberg averaged 69 points scoring and gave up 71 points. In the 65-59 victory for Bamberg, Ludwigsburg easily won the rebound battle 37-27 as Jon Brockman had a strong game scoring 21 points and grabbing 14 boards, but the team shot miserable from outside at 3/14. In the return game, Ludwigsburg won 83-73, but this time Bamberg controlled the boards 28-25, but had 18 turnovers ten more than Ludwigsburg. Bamberg also controlled Jon Brockman better as he was held to 13 points and seven rebounds while Ludwigsburg had Brad Wanamaker under control limiting him to seven points. This could become a long series if Ludwigsburg can steal game one in Bamberg, but that is easier said than done, but if not then it could end quickly. The two main players to contain for both teams are Brad Wanamaker who gets Bamberg going and Jon Brockman who infects his team with his energy and never ending banging. DJ Kennedy has never lost to Bamberg as he played only once against them this season, but then again he hasn´t yet been witness to how Bamberg always steps it up a notch in the post season. However in the end, Ludwigsburg will come undone to three components of defense, experience and depth which Bamberg all have more of. Not to forget, Bamberg also has a very good mix of old and young while the Ludwigsburg bench has less younger legs which could become a factor in a long series.

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