Sometimes there are those kind of players where one is waiting for the big breakthrough and one waits and waits like a middle aged woman hoping for that marriage proposal year after year, but it never happens. For certain professional basketball players that don´t develop quicker tend to get a label especially if he has those boyish looks that don’t seem to go away. German 210 cm power forward/center Tim Ohlbrecht is still only 26, but for some may as well be only 22 as that is what it feels like as it simply took him a longer time to develop in the Beko BBL. In the BBL, he had the constant non ending comparisons to a big blond from Wurzburg that never went away and the big man surely could have had long talks with FC Bayern Munich forward Jan Jagla who had the same kind of comparisons years earlier. It still seems to be a riddle why his maturity went so slow in Germany where guys like Maik Zirbes or Tibor Pleiss rose a lot quicker than Ohlbrecht did and went to top teams in Europe. Whereas in the States Ohlbrecht made the NBA in just one year and won back to back D-league titles with the Rio Grande Vipers and Fort Wayne Mad Ants. He may have played only three NBA games with the Rockets, but there are only a hand full of German players that can boast that he played in the NBA. It is even harder to believe that Ohlbrecht won his first BBL title 8 years ago when he was only an 18 year old basketball baby in Bamberg with players like ex NBA players Casey Jacobsen and Vincent Yarbrough and was teamsmates with German legend Steffen Hamann and Bamberg legend Chris Ensminger. He also played in places like Bonn and Frankfurt and now 8 years after hoisting a BBL title with the Brose Baskets Bamberg, the only 26 year old Ohlbrecht will clash with his ex team. Even though Olbrecht played three seasons with the Brose Baskets Bamberg as well as with their cooperation teams Breitengussbach and Nurnberg, he only played 68 BBL games. He never got a real chance with Dirk Bauermann and co and after three seasons the team gave up on him. Maybe he had left the Bayer Giants Leverkusen (1.Bundesliga) too early in 2006 as his development hadn´t been ready for the drastic change. This season he has finally made his full breakthrough in the BBL as he has superb stats for the minutes he is getting as in the BBL he is averaging 12,5ppg, 5,5rpg, 1,2bs, in 21 minutes per game and an astounding 40,0% from downtown as his banning of taking the three as was the case in Frankfurt under Muli Katzurin seems nonexistent in Ulm. In the Eurochallenge, he was also very solid as he played six games averaging 10,8ppg, 4,5rpg, 1,2apg in 18 minutes. Even if Michael Koch has left the Telekom Baskets Bonn, Ohlbrecht was able to get revenge on his old team helping Ulm get by in five games and now he is more than motivated to finish off his ex team Bamberg the favorite.
The leading scorer of ratiopharm Ulm 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 will need to produce. 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.
The Brose Baskets Bamberg 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. EX Minnesota(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.
The Brose Baskets Bamberg advanced to the semi-finals with a comfortable 3-0 sweep of the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg, but getting by Ludwigsburg was a lot more difficult than what the sweep scores showed. Bamberg averaged 87 points per game in the three game series while Ludwigsburg averaged 80 points a game. Both teams showed their offensive presence, but Bamberg just had a bit more fire power. Bamberg won the first game 87-79 was up 14 after 30 minutes and held on despite a late Ludwigsburg come back. Bamberg was led by the point guard duo of Philadelphia natives Dawan Robinson and Brad Wanamaker, shot better as a team and just slipped by on the boards 40-39. And they had the bit stronger bench and all around rotation. In game two, Ludwigsburg gave it their best shot taking the game into OT, but never could get over the hump as Bamberg always led in extra time. Statistically there wasn´t much difference of both teams as Bamberg shot a bit better while Ludwigsburg won the rebounding duel 40-34. Both teams showed their ability to have a different top scorer as John Little had 21 points and Daniel Theis had 17 points while ex NBA player Jon Brockman was in beast mode again getting a double double. In game three Ludwigsburg played a controlled and focused first half leading by seven points, but just couldn´t keep it up for 40 minutes as Bamberg powered home 52 points in the second half winning 87-79. Ludwigsburg won the rebounding battle, but the difference were the three pointers as Bamberg shot better. Wanamaker and Kennedy led their respective teams in scoring, but once again the deeper bench of Bamberg was a big factor why they could pull out another win.
The Ulm-Bonn series was the most exciting as it went the distance of 5 games. The first three games were all close affairs as the games were decided by not more than 12 points and both teams won their first games on the road and then the next two games each team won at home and game five Ulm was able to win in Bonn again for the third time in four games this season. Down 2-1, Ulm struck back at home winning 86-73. Ratiopharm Ulm won the quarter scoring in the first three and were in control for most of the game until giving 27 points in the fourth, but they scored 24 points and still could win with ease. Both teams shot well from the field, but poorly from outside and Ulm won the rebound duel and the 20 turnovers of Bonn hurt them. Ulm big man Ian Vougioukas led the team with 22 points and 10 rebounds and Will Clyburn had 22 points and eight rebounds while the Bonn guard tandem of Richard Mcconnell and Eugene Lawrence combined for 31 points and 15 assists. Game 5 was a battle to the finish and after 30 minutes Bonn led 59-57 at home, but couldn´t withstand the Ulm power surge in the fourth as they dropped 29 points for the 86-79 victory. There wasn´t much that was separating both teams as the stats were very close. A big factor for Ulm was top scorer Greek Vougioukas who scored the most points for Ulm in the last three games. Per Guenther also found to his old strength scoring 13 points, dishing out six assists and getting three steals after not being at his best in the first games of the series. It was clear to see when the road team is able to win a do or die game on the road shows that Ulm just wanted it a bit more.
The Brose Baskets swept the season series as they crushed Ulm at home 101-74 and then won on the road 95-88. Ulm had no remedy for American Ryan Thompson who was in the zone with 35 points and Bamberg had five guys in double figures while Per Guenther led Ulm with 16 points. Both teams hit 8 three pointers while Ulm had six more free throws and Bamberg led the rebound battle, but the story of the game was the Bamberg 29 field goals which was 16 more than Ulm. In game two Bamberg won in Ludwigsburg 95-88. This was a wild game as Ulm scored 33 points in the first while Bamberg scored 33 in the second. Bamberg kept up their offensive strength scoring 49 points in the second half and winning. Both teams shot over 50% from the field, but Bamberg also did from downtown while Ulm sot 43% from outside. Both teams were relatively even with rebounding and turnovers, but the difference was that Bamberg had six guys in double figures as Theis had 20 points. When looking at the team stats, Bamberg leads each category against Ulm with points per game(84-83) Field goal(51%-46%), three point shooting(40%-36%),turnovers(12,2,13,0) and assists(17,2-15,3) and only rebounds is it even(34-34). Both teams match up pretty well in that both have long players, athletic players and good shooters. The duel of the series will be Wanamaker vs Guenther. Ulm will need Guenther to play very well to be successful while a Wanamaker does make his team go when he is on, but even if he has an off day, they have enough other weapons to keep the team going. However in the end the better defensive team will win and that is Bamberg. Bamberg will always be able to score against Ulm. Ulm has to play their best defense, but can they do it in three games stopping their fire power? Both have deep benches even if Bamberg´s is a bit deeper and Bamberg has more experience which will put them ahead to the final.