In Freak city Bamberg, one can tackle the difficult question about which player in the last 10 years had the most impact on their two dynasties, ex NBA player Casey Jacobsen or Brad Wanamaker, but one thing is for sure, the eight time BBL champion would have won far less titles had the club not had these two players aboard. Of course a team effort belongs to the success of a club, but these two players had a major impact on their teams. Granted a Jacobsen won 5 league titles in four and a half years while a Wanamker won only two, but the American who head coach Sasa Obradovic once called one of the three best players to have ever played in the BBL played only two seasons with the team going two for two in league titles and now has headed to greener pastures in Turkey with Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul. Just how dominant would the Brose Baskets Bamberg have been this season and for the future if the club had miraculously been able to produce an extra crate full of cash to keep the Philadelphia native on board? In any case when Jacobsen retired in 2013 the Brose Baskets Bamberg were dethroned in 2014 by FC Bayern Munich and now with Wanamaker departed, will they be able to keep the new started dynasty alive? This season the Brose Baskets Bamberg don´t have that dominant guard from nature on and off the court like a Wanamaker, but a very potent guard rotation of French national player Fabien Causeur, rookie Maodo Lo and Janis Strelnieks. All three have their own diverse talents with the French man´s basketball IQ, drive and shooting, Lo´s undeniable quickness and drive that is hard to stop as well as probably the best playmaker of the lot, and Strelnieks´s dangerous shooting and ongoing basketball IQ. Bamberg will have one of the best guard rotation´s in the league and even if they lost such a huge leader in a Wanamaker, the club has enough other players that will be able to slip into the role that Wanamaker once had. The question will be what player will be able and want to take over that responsibility? “I think Bamberg is still the favorite. But losing Wanamaker is a big loss for them, similar like when Munich lost Delaney. It will be interesting how they compensate for this loss”, stressed Phoenix Hagen assistant coach Steven Wriedt.
Last season the Brose Baskets were able to repeat as league champions, but were caught off guard losing in Munich in the cup semi-finals to FC Bayern Munich. They started off the season with two wins, then had an embarrassing loss in Giessen 81-80 which was a wakeup call preceding to win 23 of the next 24 games losing only in Frankfurt in a nail bitter 88-86. Since November 15th, 2015 where they lost in Frankfurt, they have only lost one more time in a shoot out in Oldenburg 102-97 and are still perfect in 2016 at home. Euroleague teams like Barcelona, Moscow and Piraus all left Bamberg understanding why playing in Freak City is a phenomenon. In the playoffs it was clear sailing for them as they swept Wurzburg, FC Bayern Munich and ratiopharm Ulm like a nasty tornado can the wayside in the prairies of Oklahoma. Their biggest strength last season was their immaculate sense of team play, team chemistry, ball movement that is similar to the San Antonio Spurs and a hard edged defense that kept teams under 70 points 22 times. Their offense is probably even more impressive than their defense as they nailed opponents with 80 points or more 37 times as teams got dizzy with the whipping around of the ball in the set offense. The Brose Baskets Bamberg were a well oiled team that made history reaching the Euroleague Top 16 and many said that last season´s Brose Baskets Bamberg was one of the best teams ever.
This season it is no secret that the club wants to continue their success and keep collecting new titles the same way Jared Jordan has dimes in the BBL the last years. The club can´t and won´t have any other goals other than winning all national titles and reaching the Euroleague top 16 again and possibly going a step further this season by having some more fortune than last season in this competition. The club is deeper than last season and their goal like last season is too play total team basketball with a deadly ball movement and a defense that will make opponents go home wondering why they couldn´t score 70 plus points. The club has another packed roster with guys that would start for any other BBL team except for maybe Yassin Idbihi. They have held on to 11 players and added three new players with Fabien Causeur, Maodo Lo and Vladimir Veremeenko and thus rounding out the leagues deepest roster. The club held on to ex Kentucky(NCAA) forward Darius Miller who will be playing his third season with the team and last season played 39 games averaging 10.3ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.7apg, FGP: 54.8%, 3PT: 49.3%, FT: 88.9%; Euroleague: 24 games: 9.4ppg, 2.4rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 52.6%, 3PT: 40.3%, FT: 90.9%. He now fully concentrated on Bamberg with his NBA hopes on the back burner and he is the player that could slip into the Wanamaker leader role. Janis Strelnieks goes into his third season with the team and last season played 39 games: 11.1ppg, 1.9rpg, 3.3apg, FGP-3(68.9%), 3PT: 43.4%, FT: 79.2%; Euroleague: 24 games: 9.8ppg, 2.0rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 55.8%, 3PT: 40.4%, FT: 91.3%. The Latvian was known for the big shots in crunch time and his high shooting percentages from downtown proved his worth. After 5 years with EA7 Emporio Armani Milano (SerieA) where he developed nicely, Italian Nicolo Melli had his breakthrough last season with Bamberg playing 40 games averaging 9.4ppg, 5.1rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 57.1%, 3PT: 43.8%, FT: 76.0%; Euroleague: 23 games: 9.2ppg, 6.5rpg, 2.7apg, FGP: 47.5%, 3PT: 45.3%, FT: 81.5%. He was the team´s unsung hero as his consistent inside/out play was vital for the success of the team. There was a reason why Bamberg brought in 16 time title winner Greek Nikos Zisis as his experience was the back bone of the team. Last season 2008 Euroleague champion with CSKA Moscow played 38 games averaging 9.3ppg, 2.4rpg, 3.7apg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 36.5%, FT: 88.1%; Euroleague: 24 games: 10.1ppg, 2.7rpg, 3.6apg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 38.8%, FT: 80.0%. 208 cm Croatian Leon Radosevic returns for a second season and last season played 32 games: 6.1ppg, 2.9rpg, FGP: 56.3%, FT: 81.5%; Euroleague: 19 games: 7.5ppg, 3.5rpg, FGP: 55.2%, FT: 71.2%. He came in November, but gave the club added stability inside and he had some huge games in the team´s biggest wins of the season in the Euroleague against Piraus and Moscow where he steered 14 points in 16 minutes.
The club also kept their quintet of five Germans with Daniel Theis, Elias Harris, Patrick Heckmann, Lucca Staiger and Yassin Idbihi. The unending deepness of the Brose Baskets Bamberg continues with their potent German lineup as with Theis and Harris the club have the two best German power forwards ever on one team. Theis is going into his third season with Bamberg and continues to develop nicely and heightened his game from his first season playing 40 games averaging 10.7ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.2apg, Blocks-4(1.4bpg), FGP: 67.4%, 3PT: 45.7%, FT: 75.4%; Euroleague: 24 games: 9.2ppg, 4.4rpg, FGP: 58.1%, 3PT: 38.9%, FT: 76.4%. He can do it all on the court and is simply a game changer on both ends of the court. Elias Harris reached the big show in the NBA which Theis hasn´t so far, but the German is in the shadow of the ex Ulm player, but the ex Gonzaga player couldn´t be more of a professional in that his good character has won over his ego as he has accepted the more limited role. Harris who played two NBA games with the Los Angeles Lakers and can always tell his grandchildren that he was teammates with Kobe Bryant last season played 35 games: 7.7ppg, 2.3rpg, FGP: 68.8%, 3PT: 46.2%, FT: 81.6%; Euroleague: 20 games: 4.6ppg, 2.4rpg. He has accepted his role and his job is too be as efficient as possible in the minutes he gets and he has been able to do that. He had his best stint in the 3-0 sweep of Wurzburg where he gave efficient a new meaning as he scored 14 points in 16 minutes, 15 points in 17 minutes and 21 points in 16 minutes. German national player Patrick Heckman is playing his second season with Bamberg. He was one of the team´s biggest surprises last season as the ex Boston College player started on occasion and played 40 games: 6.9ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 61.9%, 3PT: 40.3%, FT: 77.7%; Euroleague: 23 games: 4.1ppg, 2.0rpg. He continues to develop and will get his minutes. Lucca Staiger is going into his second season with Bamberg and last season despite the heavy competition had a pretty solid season despite never knowing how much he would play. He played 39 games: 6.7ppg, 1.3rpg, FGP: 59.1%, 3PT-3(52.9%), FT: 85.7%; Euroleague: 20 games: 2.7ppg. He had a 22 point game against BG Goettingen and 19 point games against Bonn and Crailsheim. His 52% shooting from the parking lot was the best in his professional career and he is always good for a big shooting game. Yassin Idbihi is the elder gentleman on the team at 33 and has won at least a title with each of the big three teams Alba Berlin, FC Bayern Munich and Bamberg. Last season in a very limited role he played 29 games: 2.6ppg, 1.4rpg; Euroleague: 13 games: 1.2ppg. The ex Buffalo(NCAA) center isn´t concerned with minutes anymore, but just wants to keep collecting titles and enjoy the ride.
The club added three new players with Fabien Causeur, Maodo Lo and Vladimir Veremeenko. Causeur is a 29 year old 194cm guard that is a truly explosive player who is effective in putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket. Thanks to size and solid body, he’s also a good defender, even on taller opponents. He started his career at STB Le Havre (ProA) and then played at Cholet before moving to Laboral Kutxa Vitoria (Spain-Liga Endesa) where he played the last four seasons. Last season he played 24 games: 9.0ppg, 2.6rpg, 2.6apg, Steals-5(1.5spg), FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 34.9%, FT: 71.2%; Euroleague: 21 games: 10.3ppg, 3.1rpg, 2.0apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 48.9%, 3PT: 39.5%, FT: 81.0%. The French national player and two time France allstar has won only two professional titles and is hungry to add on more hardware with Bamberg. His experience will be vital to Bamberg and just how well he can slip into the Wanamaker role is to be seen. Maodo Lo is a 23 year old 190cm guard who can thank a strong season at Wilbraham & Monson Academy in 2011-2012 averaging 19.8ppg, 4.5rpg, 3.6apg for keeping his basketball career alive as the year before it seemed like his basketball career was going nowhere with the Central Hoops Berlin (2.Regionalliga). He moved to Ivy league school Columbia in 2012 and the rest is history. He had a strong four year career there, got NBA workouts and took the vacant spot of NBA player Dennis Schroeder in the German national team this summer leading the team to the 2017 European championships. As a senior at Columbia he played 35 games averaging 16.9ppg, 3.9rpg, 2.9apg, 2.2spg, FGP: 55.2%, 3PT: 37.4%, FT: 70.3%. Then he played at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Pre-NBA Draft): 3 games: 5.7ppg, 1.7rpg, 2.7apg. Then he got valuable experience at the NBA Pro Summer League in Utah (Philadelphia 76ers): 2 games: 10.5ppg, 4.0rpg and at the NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas (Philadelphia 76ers): 5 games: 6.8ppg, 1.8rpg. After four years in the NCAA, he will have to adapt to the BBL and Bamberg style, but one that he should be able to handle with the strong roster and coaching staff to assist him. Vladimir Veremeenko is another player that brings valuable experience to the club as he is a 32 year old 208cm forward from Russia that was drafted by the Washington Wizzards in 2006 and played mostly in Russia, but also has played in Turkey and last season with Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia (Italy-Serie A, starting five): 37 games: 8.7ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 62.1%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 78.7%; Eurocup: 14 games: 7.0ppg, 4.7rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 62.9%, 3PT-1(66.7%), FT: 70.0%. He may not be able to boast like a Zisis about winning 16 titles, but many players dream of winning 6 titles something he has accomplished. He has an all around game, but is very versatile on the floor and can play multiple positions.
The Fraport Skyliners have a massive negative record on the road in Bamberg going six years without a win until the Beko BBL playoffs 2010 where the club of Gordon Herbert won in game one 65-63. Who could forget the embarrassing 81-48 loss in 2007 which was the last game for Skyliner coach Charles Barton. In 2009-2010 the club won twice winning in the regular season 84-80 as the team was led by American point guard Aubrey Reese with 18 points. They won a second time in game four of the 2010 finals with a 69-56 win sending the 2010 BEKO BBL finals back to Bamberg as Alba Berlin American Derrick Allen led the charge with 19 points and seven rebounds. In the first meeting in 2010-2011, The Brose Baskets Bamberg were able to pull out a hard fought 71-62 win as they rallied from being down 60-55 and ended the game with a 16-2 run. Anton Gavel led all scorers with 19 points and Reyshawn Terry added 15 points. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were led by Dashaun Wood with 15 points, but he steered only two assists. Brad Buckman and Jimmy Mckinney chipped in with 10 points a piece. Bamberg was able to shoot over 40% from the field and outside while Frankfurt didnt have the touch from the three point line at only 29%. In the second game at home, Bamberg won easily 81-63. In 2011-2012, the Fraport Skyliners stunk up the Stechert arena with a degrading 97-63 loss. Julius Jenkins led Bamberg with 20 points while Jon Leuer produced 17 points and 14 rebounds. In the return game, the Fraport Skyliners gave a spirited effort winning in sensational style 76-68. Frankfurt had a strong 16-7 third quarter leading the team to the win. Jimmy Mckinney had 19 points while Marcus Slaughter had 15 points. In the 2012-2013 season in the first game, despite a strong first half by Frankfurt, Bamberg was able to prevail in the second half wining 76-67. Anton Gavel led Bamberg with 19 points and the ex NBA players Casey Jacobson and Bostjan Nachbar contributed 14 points a piece, while ex Skyliner Ted Scott produced 14 points. In the return game in Frankfurt, the Fraport Skyliners took apart Bamberg 77-64 as they were led by American Dawan Robinson with19 points, Ryan Brooks added 13 points and Zack Peacock 12 points. Bamberg was led by Anton Gavel with 22 points. Frankfurt did a superb job controlling the boards and showing their aggressive Katzurian defense. In their first meeting in the 2013-2014 season, the Brose Baskets Bamberg took apart the Fraport Skyliners 73-43 as Frankfurt had many injuries and many young players that had to take responsibility which is never easy in the hostle Bamberg environment. Bamberg was led by Elias Harris with 13 points, while Anton Gavel and Casey Jacobsen had 12 points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Konstantin Klein with 14 points. In the return game in Frankfurt, Frankfurt defended well keeping Bamberg to 64 points, but couldn´t muster anything on offense scoring only 54 points. The Brose Baskets Bamberg were led by Americans Jamar Smith with 18 points and Rakim Sanders with 16 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Johannes Voigtmann with 15 points and Ramon Galloway steered home 13 points. In the 2014-2015 season the Brose Baskets Bamberg swept the season series winning 81-62 in Bamberg as they were led by Ryan Thompson with 14 points and Daniel Theis had 13 points while Frankfurt was led by Johannes Voigtmann with 18 points and Danilo Barthel had 11 points. Bamberg also won in Frankfurt 85-69 as they were led by Josh Duncan and Janis Strelnieks with 15 points a piece while Frankfurt was led by Danilo Barthel with 16 points and Johannes Voigtmann with 14 points.
Last season the Fraport Skyliners won in sensational fashion at home 88-86 as they had five guys score in double figures as Danilo Bathel had 23 points and Aaron Doornekamp had 22 points. Bamberg was led by the one and only Brad Wanamaker with 36 points in 36 minutes. In the return game in Bamberg, Bamberg got revenge winning 71-58 as they clamped down on defense and totally dominated the bench points 35-8. Bamberg was led by Janis Strelnieks with 18 points while Frankfurt was led by Jordan Theodore with 21 points while Aaron Doornekamp supplied 16 points. The Brose Baskets Bamberg open the season at home against the Fraport Skyliners and go in with huge expectations. Losing is never in the equation, but most will be speculating how long their first win streak will last. The Fraport Skyliners have a mostly healthy roster and go in with some self confidence after giving a very spirited performance in the Fiba Intercontinental Cup where they were in it to the end against Guaros De Lara of Venezuela until a lack of experience cost them the game. Nobody is expecting any miracles in Bamberg as the team hasn´t won there in six years, but just not getting creamed and letting the new youth program era reloaded 2,0 start with their development phase and the club will take it from there.