2015 Beko BBL Quarterfinal Playoff Preview ratiopharm Ulm-Telekom Baskets Bonn 3-2

The Telekom Baskets Bonn are celebrating their 20 year anniversary this season and recently fans were able to vote for their 20 legends and it is very difficult to believe that with all that vast talent that has put on a Bonn jersey over the last 20 years that the club has never won a title, but instead have been known as the German version of the NFL Buffalo Bills who only reached 4 Super Bowls in all, but never were able to utter the famous words after “I´m going to Disney Land which was first said in 1987 as New York Giants star quarterback Phil Simms had the honor of making this a standard phrase for Super Bowl winners. When you look at the Bonn legends over the years, guys like 1993 NCAA champion with North Carolina with TBB Trier head coach Henrik Roedl Derrick Phelps, sniper Hurl Beechum, 38 year old Rimantas Kaukenas who is still playing and won the Eurochallenge last season, old school style John Bowler who had his own way of scoring even if it hurt just watching him in the paint, German Alex King who went from Murat Didin´s doghouse to Alba Berlin captain and solid Euroleague player, ex NBA player Vincent Yarbrough that has those Steph Curry like piercing eyes, but had the misfortune of getting to know the Bonn seats more than the floor as he was injured so often, but gave his best when he was healthy, Chris Ensminger who was quietly proclaimed finished as a player in 2008 after he left Bamberg, but found a second life in Paderborn and then went on to continue his illustrious career and play four more years in Bonn and was second in rebounding in the BBL in the his late 30´s showing that he still had so much left in his gas tank or current Bonn sharp shooter Benas Veikalas who is the heart and soul of the team. All these amazing and skilled players, plus so many more have worn the Bonn jersey, but never been able to host a title in the air. Since coming into the BBL in 1996, the club has had a very strong run making the playoffs each season except for three and having the chance to win titles on many occasions, but always coming in second as they reached the cup final three times and five times second for the league title most recently in 2008 losing to Alba Berlin and 2009 to the EWE Baskets Oldenburg where they looked as good as the winner, but lost it in the last seconds in a hard fought five game series. There isn´t more that the Telekom Baskets Bonn can do than try try again each season. The good news this season is that they aren´t meeting Oldenburg who they lost two last season in a tough five game series as the 2015 cup winner Oldenburg seem to have their number in big games. This post season, the Telekom Baskets Bonn meet ratiopharm Ulm and can try try again to win that first title even if winning 9 games isn´t as easy as two in a cup top four, but in basketball anything is possible. After missing the Beko BBL playoffs the last time in 2011, Bonn has made it back four straight years and head coach Matthias Fischer has improved the team each season since coming in 2013 to a fifth place finish last season and a potent fourth place finish this season with a 23-11 record. The Telekom Baskets Bonn look back on a consistent BBL season having a six game, five game and two four game winning streaks. The biggest wins of the season was against the Brose Baskets Bamberg, FC Bayern Munich, Oldenburg and sweeping the always tough Artland Dragons. This season they had little problems with offensive firepower as they scored 80 plus points 20 times, but also knew how to give up many points giving up 80 points or more 19 times. In the Eurocup play they had a non-rewarding 4-6 record and three of the four wins were by not more than combines six points showing they had the nerves in crunch time, but also had some forgettable games like mustering only 48 points against Strassburg. Bonn has a solid 10 man rotation where no player averages more than 12 points a game, but the club relies heavily on their starting five for consistent production. The club is led by experienced 32 year old Lithuanian Tadas Klimavicius(12,8pp, 6,2rpg, 1,6apg) who is the work horse on offense. He scored in double figures in 23 BBL games including a 28 effort against Braunschweig coming mostly from the bench . Angelo Caloiaro(12,4ppg, 4,5rpg, 1,5apg) is playing his second season in Germany after a strong first season with MBC. After being the main focus in Weissenfels last season, the American had to adapt to a more talented scoring team and found his role quickly scoring in double figures 23 times. He is a hard working inside/out player that scored 26 points against Bremerhaven and Bayreuth. The heart and soul of the team is sharp shooter Benas Veikalas(11,oppg, 2,5rpg, 1,3apg) who has been with Bonn since 2011. Despite hitting never more than three three pointers a game nine times, he is shooting 40% from downtown and his leadership is irreplaceable. Ryan “Air” Brooks(10,5ppg, 3,4rpg, 2,0apg) is playing his second season with Bonn and is always dangerous on offense especially with his deadly mid distance shot. He had a lull in February and March not scoring in double figures in nine straight games, but finished strong scoring in double figures in the last four games including 20 points in the win against FC Bayern Munich. With Americans Eugene Lawrence(7,4ppg, 2,2rpg, 5,3apg) and Richard Mcconnell(8,8ppg, 2,2rpg, 3,9apg) the club may have the best point guard duo in the league. The team has the perfect mix between the physical bull like penetrator of Lawrence who can always draw a foul or find the open man to the strong shooting Mcconnell who is just as unselfish as he finds his teammates at ease. The team rounds out the roster with three experienced Germans with Dirk Madrich(8,3ppg, 3,9rpg), Andrej Mangold(3,8ppg, 2,2rpg, 21apg), Steve Wachalski(6,9ppg, 2,4rpg) and youngster Florian Koch(2,9ppg). Bonn is the 12th professional teamfor Madrich and the physical big man has played in countries like Greece and France and his career seemed over in 2011 after he moved from BBL team Giessen to Pro B team Vechta. However his career was recharged under Pat Elze and he had a super season in the BBL last season and has been an important role player for Bonn showing he can play at the BBL level. Mangold is that trusty point guard who lives from his speed, penetration and defense while Wachalski is having best season at 31 years old. After six years in the Regionaliga and two in the Pro B, he finally made the jump to the BBL in 2010 with Bayreuth. He toiled two seasons in the Pro A with MBC, but got the trust from Fischer last season being a spark plug form the bench, but has an even more important role this season as he has scored in double figures seven times and who could forget his 26 point outburst against TBB Trier where he hit eight three pointers. Ratiopharm Ulm returned back to the German BBL in 2006 and have matured well into a top team in the league even if they have a type of final trend brewing like Bonn has with two cup finals in 2013 and 2014 and a league final in 2012. Mike Taylor got ratiopharm Ulm going in a positive direction and Thorsten Leibenath has continued to bring success to the team since arriving in 2011. After finishing second and third and sixth last season, the team had a solid fifth place finish this season with a record of 21-13. Ratiopharm Ulm beat the teams that they needed to and their biggest wins were sweeping the Artland Dragons and Telekom Baskets Bonn, but were unable to defeat any on the big three teams. They have the deepest roster after the big three and really could beat any one on a good day with their destructive offensive arsenal. Their best stint during the season was a five and six game winning streak. They scored 80 points or more 24 times, but like Bonn had even more difficulty keeping the opponent below 80 points as they gave up 80 points or more 21 times. The team had six guys averaging double figures in scoring showing that they can find many ways to score. The leading scorer is German national player Per Guenter(13,4ppg, 1,6rpg, 4,9apg) who recently signed an extension to remain in Ulm. Guenther is the best German point guard playing in the BBL as he has become such a complete player scoring in double figures 23 times and being a scorer if needed in crunch time and is the teams best three point shooter at the moment. Tim Olhbrecht(13,0ppg, 5,5rpg) is back in the BBL after a two year stay in the States that brought him 3 NBA games for the memories. He has become a consistent player in the BBL having scored in double figures 24 times and registering 4 double doubles. Will Clyburn(12,9ppg, 7,7rpg, 1,9apg) belonged to the most improved players in the league , leads the team in rebounding, steals, third in scoring and third in assists. He scored in double figures in 23 games and had a masterful 28 points against Ludwigsburg. He is the teams MVP this season. Greek Ian Vougioukas(11,4ppg, 2,9rpg) brought his 62 Euroleague experience in March and could really make this series a depth factor down low. Slovenian Jaka Klobucar(11,3ppg, 2,7rpg, 3,2apg) has been most valuable with his versatility and added scoring punch from the bench. Brion Rush(10,5ppg, 2,1rpg, 1,9apg) came in February and is another talented guard that gave immense support with his scoring in wins against Artland and BG Goettingen and is a pest on defense. Marten Leunen(7,7ppg, 3,7rpg, 1,7apg) is the glue that keeps the team together as the 2008 Houston Rocket NBA draft pick played the last five years in the Italian Serie A and shines with his experience, team play and is the teams current best three point shooter. Philipp Schwethelm(5,4ppg, 2,5rpg) already played his first BBL game at age 16 with Cologne and is still only 26 and is known for his aggressive defense, but can also be very effective as he showed scoring 22 points against the Fraport Skyliners with five three pointers. Isaiah Philmore(3,7ppg, 1,9rpg) is a rookie who doesn´t get many minutes, but plays effective for his 10 minutes per game and is another big body down below. Adam Hess(2,4ppg, 1,4rpg) is 34 and can still hit the three pointer and had strong games against his ex team Phoenix Hagen with 16 points and 12 against Crailsheim, but his worth is more his experience and vocal leadership as he gets limited minutes. Rookie Deonte Burton(1,8ppg) who had a stellar career at Nevada(NCAA) and played NBA Summer league with the Washington Wizards in 2014 has been lost in the roster mix with little playing time, but the experience he got playing with top players should help him with his career in Europe should he remain. He is another big scoring threat waiting to get on the floor. This will be a very exciting series and will go five games. When looking at the stats, there isn´t much that separates both teams as Bonn has the upper hand in scoring points per game 84-83, field goal percentage 48%-46% and assists 18-15 while ratiopharm Ulm have the slight edge in three point shooting 37%-35%, rebounding 34-33, turnovers 12-13. Ratiopharm Ulm go into the series having won their last meeting in Bonn 93-87 on the last game day securing this series instead of having to face FC Bayern Munich had they lost there. Ulm also won the other meeting at home 82-77. Ratiopharm Ulm obviously showed that in both games that they had the better nerves in crunch time. It is difficult to name one top duel of the series as there are so many to name, but Will Clyburn against whomever Bonn puts up against him as this is a huge mismatch in favor of Ulm as they already have a huge front court with Olhbrecht and Leunen, plus the other beasts from the bench with Philmore and Vougioukas. The point guard position is another big duel as Guenther and Lawrence make both teams go as both seem to rarely have a day off. ratiopharm Ulm won the rebounding duel in both games and have the big size and physicality edge in the paint as well as the experience and depth from the bench. Bonn will need to play transition as much as possible and rely on their outside shooting. Both are offensive power houses , but all in all defense will decide this series if a team finally decides to play defense.

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