It would have been interesting to have been able to read the inner deepest thoughts of NBA legend Dirk Nowitski who he thought was going to win game 5 in Berlin and who he was really rooting for 8 time Beko BBL champion Alba Berlin or 2014 BBL champion FC Bayern Munich two teams that would love to have him play his last farewell season in Germany whenever that day will arrive in the future. After telling the press in Frankfurt Thursday that he would take part at the 2015 European championships in Berlin in September with the German national team, he sped over to the nations capital to take in some sights and the Champions League final Saturday between FC Barcelona and Juventus Turin. If current NBA player Dennis Schroeder was really a good luck charm for FC Bayern Munich and Heiko Schaffartzik who´s path´s crossed in Braunschweig some years ago is possible, but the Atlanta hawk could be that secret luck charm for his ex teammate Daniel Theis in Bamberg in the finals series. It is no secret that even the most critical FC Bayern Munich fan was still probably going with their team, but throughout the series it was Alba Berlin that always had their albatross beak ahead of them and were using that home court advantage to the fullest. All Alba Berlin had to do was do what they had done all series long and win their last home game of the series, but instead they didn´t only lose, but lost in spectacular fashion in overtime as they couldn´t use their atmosphere and execute the way they knew how in crunch time in their own building. I was getting very excited for I really wanted to see the point guard series between Americans Brad Wanamaker and Alex Renfroe as they could of really had their own spectacular series and just let everyone else break out the popcorn take a seat back and watch the leagues best two point guards go to work while both teams Americans might have been wondering if Ted 2 was still going to be released in Germany before the end of the season so they could get a taste of that funny teddy bear in German. But instead the beko BBL will witness Brad Wanamaker against the FC Bayern Munich non American point guards Heiko Schaafrtzik, Vasilije Micic and Anton Gavel which is also a treat especially if one fancies unorthodox shots being hurled up to perfection. You can say what you want, but FC Bayern Munich finally earned some hard fought respect in this series. They had come into the 2015 playoffs not seen as the favorite as Bamberg and Berlin were clearly ahead, but finished off the Fraport Skyliners easily and then had to face an always tough and brutal Alba Berlin team and had to come back twice to tie the series and then win on the road in game five which they did. Even after they lost their nerves a bit with the Svetislav Pesic double technical, they stayed focused as a team and retired the Sasa Obradovic hand jestures for another season. With Bamberg well rested after disposing of ratiopharm ulm 3-0 the question will be can FC Bayern Munich do it again, but against a slightly tougher and more rested opponent with the Brose Baskets Bamberg.
Coming into the 2015 playoffs, the Brose Baskets Bamberg was 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.
FC Bayern Munich without a doubt have the deepest roster in the league and one would want almost each guy on your team as most would be starters on any other team in the league. The star of the team is John Bryant(13,5ppg, 7,9rpg) who played three seasons with ratiopharm Ulm and is the best center in the league as he is so difficult to stop, but the most valuable player on the team is Serb Nihad Djedovic(15,0ppg, 3,5rpg, 2,6apg) who is a high energy player that is so versatile that just does all on the court scoring in double figures in 19 of 24 games. After missing two months, he came back strong in April as if he had never been away. Head coach Svetislav Pesic has had his luck with picking the right Serb´s as Dusko Savanovic(11,6ppg, 4,6rpg, 2,1apg) was the hidden MVP as he is also a very mobile and versatile big man who is unselfish and belonged to the team´s best performers in the Euroleague. The guy with the biggest heart Bryce Taylor(9,5ppg, 3,1rpg, 1,3apg) was the team best three point shooter and as captain his team play was never missing. He came back slow from injury, but started going in February. Some just come and pay admission to see Anon Gavel(8,4ppg, 2,1rpg, 4,0apg) launch his line drive shots led the team in assists and can always haunt you with his bombs from outside. With Bryant taking a rest an opponent gets hit with the next bruiser with Vladimir Stimac(8,1ppg, 5,4rpg). There is nothing fancy about his game, but he gets the job done as Bonn witnessed as he poured in 19 points. The Serb connection continues with 2014 NBA draft pick of the Philadelphia 76ers with point guard Vasilije Misic87,6ppg, 2,1rpg, 3,7apg) who is like an energizer bunny and is just a pest to deal with from the bench. Just when you thought that that was the roster, you still have six Germans on the team. Heiko Schaffartzik(6,9ppg, 1,6rpg, 3,4apg) started only seven games, but was the teams second best three point shooter at 41% and can scare anyone with his focused look on the court at all times. Robin Benzing(6,5ppg, 2,2rpg, 1,3apg) is playing his fourth season in Munich, but his scoring stats have fallen the last three seasons. His scoring average obviously will suffer on a team like Munich, but he is always good for some unexpected big plays. Jan Jagla(5,3ppg, 2,8rpg)still going strong at 33 and is always effective in the minutes that he gets. Paul Zipser(4,9ppg, 2,4rpg) is a guy that needs to fight for his minutes, but showed what he can do scoring 20 against Tuebingen and 13 against Valencia in the Eurocup. Yassin Idbihi(3,5ppg, 2,0rpg) can always give support from the bench with points and rebounds, but this season is more a cheerleader.
Despite so many changes occurring in the Bamberg roster as well as a new coach in this season, the Brose Baskets Bamberg had no problems in the 2015 playoffs as they are still perfect at 6-0. They disposed of the EWE Baskets Oldenburg even if the sweep score is somewhat deceiving as Oldenburg played them tough, but they continued to play their game and also swept ratiopharm ulm. Bamberg showed their overpowering home court dominance throwing Ulm out of Freak City after a 36 point win and a 20 point win. However they were tested on the road winning 81-80 as had they lost this game, who knows how they would have reacted at home with a 1-1 series stand point and a more confident Ulm team in game three. In both home games Bamberg showed their potent ball movement, had five guys in double figures, won the rebound battle and connected for 27 three pointers while Brad Wanamaker was top scorer in two of the three games. By not having the home court advantage, FC Bayern Munich always had to go to Berlin trying to steal a game, but that didn´t work in game one or three which they lost. In game one, they were out rebounded and shot a miserable 3/17 from downtown as Alba Berlin cruised to the 81-55 win while in game three they actually got an offense going, but played Phoenix Hagen basketball shoot out style allowing Alba Berlin to do almost anything giving up 101 points. FC Bayern Munich was outrebounded again and gave up 13 trey´s and just couldn´t match the harsh Alba Berlin fire power as they could boast seven guys in double figures as Reggie Redding was top scorer with 20 points, rebounder with seven and assists with six. FC Bayern Munich came home winning game two and four. In game two FC Bayern Munich won 85-73. They did just the necessary to win on offense, but defended a lot better as Alba Berlin was searching for their groove all night long. They shot only 6/22, but still had a harmony on offense as six guys scored in double figures. In game four, they got a scare from Alba Berlin, but prevailed 89-83 to force that deciding game five. FC Bayern Munich dominated the boards, but on a day where they weren´t firing too much from outside, they went inside and it was the free throws that decided the game as they hit 20 more free throws than Alba Berlin. In game five, it was a fight to the finish as Alba Berlin was down by 8 in the fourth, but fought back to force overtime, but then perished 101-96 as FC Bayern Munich just had the better nerves in the last five minutes. John Bryant is the star of FC Bayern Munich, but their best player is Nihad Djedovic who poured home 30 points and hit a big three pointer in overtime which gave the road team the momentum. Even if Alba Berlin did win the rebound duel, FC Bayern Munich shot a lot better from outside at 14/28. Even a huge 29 point, 10 rebound and six assist effort from Jamel Mclean couldn´t get the team the win. Mclean most likely played his last game for Alba Berlin as countless Euroleague teams like Macabbi Tel Aviv are seeking his services.
Last season FC Bayern Munich disposed of Alba Berlin too win the title and now will have to get past the Brose Baskets Bamberg who are in their fifth final in the last six years. Bamberg has the long rest while FC Bayern Munich are playing their best basketball in the last weeks having come from 2-1 games down and beating Alba Berlin back to back and will have extra self confidence when they arrive in Freak City for game one. Both teams split the season series as Bamberg won at home 80-63 as Bamberg had a solid 40 minute defensive game and got ample production from American Josh Duncan with 22 points and Brad Wanamaker as always supplied the motor with 18 points. The team also got valuable production from the bench form Trevo Mbakwe with 12 points and Janis Strelnieks with 11 points. Bamberg did a little of the key things better like rebounding, field goal percentage and shooting from outside. In the return game in Munich, Bamberg seemed to have the Munich number in their living room as they were up by seven after three quarters, but a lethal 29 point Bayern onslaught in the fourth quarter powered the comeback and win. FC Bayern Munich got major production inside form big men John Bryant and Dusko Savanovic who combined for 38 points. Despite 30 points from the bench from Strelnieks and combined 26 points from the bench from Dawan Robinson and Elias Harris, it just wasn´t enough for Bamberg to get over the hump. Bamberg rebounded better and shot better from outside, but the 31 Munich free throws were a big factor why they could win. When looking at the most important head to head team stats, FC Bayern Munich averages 88 points per game while Bamberg does 85. Bamberg shoots 51% from the field and FC Bayern Munich 47 while from the parking lot Bamberg hits 41% while FC Bayern Munich only 35%. Munich rebounds better 37-34. This should also be a great series as both teams are strong at home and it should go to the wire with Bamberg having slightly better chances to be able to steal a game on the road. The two key players to stop are Brad Wanamaker and Nihad Djedovic. If Wanamaker is slowed down or his motor isn´t on, then Bamberg struggle, while Djedovic can always spark FC Bayern Munich in times where they are in a bad phase and just seems to be able to score in so many different ways and whenever he wants and needs to. FC Bayern Munich have the physical advantage and they should play their game, but Bamberg have the more athletic players and that is what most likely will decide the game which part of their games is better used and executed. Even if FC Bayern Munich might have the slightly deeper bench, Bamberg has the stronger German individual players with Daniel Theis and Elias Harris as well as shooters Strelnieks and Robinson that will make the difference. At best FC Bayern Munich must steal game one, but they have three games more in their bones in these playoffs and once again have the physiological disadvantage of having to fight with their backs to the wall with not having home court advantage. FC Bayern Munich might be coming into the final on a high, but all in all the Brose Baskets Bamberg team is the more consistent team and more active and energetic team on the court for 40 minutes that will just be too much for Pesic and co to handle.