EasyCredit BBL Playoff Preview 2018: Brose Bamberg-Telekom Baskets Bonn 3-2

There have been numerous important dates on and off the court in Bonn like the cities 2000 birthday in 1989, the construction and completion of city hall in 1737 or the yearly carnival festivities that take place in February which sets the city into a crazy frenzy that doesn´t stop until Ash Wednesday and then life goes back to normal for the majority with very little lunatics still living in their little own world days after the nutty partying has ceased. On the court for the Telekom Baskets Bonn there have also been very memorable dates to reminisce about. Dates that no Telekom Baskets Fan wants to ever be reminded about are the five BBL finalist years of 1997,1998,2001, 2008 and 2009 and not to forget the three cup finalist years of 2005, 2009 and 2012. Unforgettable dates that every Telekom Baskets Bonn fan has stored in their memory bank as securely as a bear has his honey during hibernation are the year the club was founded in 1995 and the year they started to battle in the BBL in 1996. Other memorable dates in the history of the basketball club are 2008 when fans moved the 500 meters from the always energetic and vibrant Hardtberg gym which was small and tight and resembled a school gym into the state of the art Telekom Dome which has been their home ever since and has hosted the BBL Allstar days in 2010 and 2015.  However not too long ago, fans added a new long lasting date to their date saving list with January 28th, 2018. For most people this was a normal day, but not with Telekom Baskets Bonn fanatic fans. This was the day of the Bamberg massacre. For many fans this day will live as a type of basketball holiday as the club didn´t only beat the Bavarian team, but whipped their buts so bad that they were probably still hurting hours after that certain players had to stand on the bus ride all the way home. A 20 point loss would have been a massive joy for Bonn fans, but Bamberg were whipped silly by 37 points 106-69 and thus this started the slow end to the Trinchieri era. Brose Bamberg would lose three more games in a row after the Bonn loss with the climax happening in Jena where they were embarrassed badly 85-68 and one could sense the players were playing against their coach. Bonn caught Bamberg a few months ago in a very bad time in their season, but things have changed since then and Bamberg has been reborn. It is May, the flowers are blooming, the weather is warm, the café´s are bustling and this is the time when Brose Bamberg come to life. Can the Telekom Baskets win a 5 game series against Bamberg? They have tried in the past and faltered and will do again.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing 2006 NBA champion Dorell Wright after dropping 14 points in the loss against the Fraport Skyliners

There weren´t many highlights in the regular season for Brose Bamberg since it was the worst performance since the 2008-2009 season finishing 22-12. Not too long ago there was even fear that the club may not even make the playoffs. The biggest problem for the club coming into the season was the loss of key players like Darius Miller, Daniel Theis, Janis Strelnieks and Nicola Melli. After being able to bring in the right players for countless years through the stellar work of scout Brendan Rooney who since has left, the club wasn´t able to bring in those key players that could make an impact like they were hoping for. The club got very talented players, but not all meshed the way management would have hoped for thus which resulted in the team starting off at 3-3. They did have some good performances, but were unable to find consistency and a good run until the beginning of March after the coaching change.

Another problem was their injury woes to Bryce Taylor, Luka Mitrovic and Patrick Heckmann. The club also had a terrible record against the top teams getting swept by FC Bayern Munich and Alba Berlin and splitting with Ludwigsburg, Bonn and Bayreuth. Despite all these negatives, the team did average 81 points per game and can really score when they need to and were still the fifth best defensive team in the league allowing 76 points per game. But the once great defense has turned into good defense and isn´t present as they allowed 9 more points per game than last season. But despite having good size this season, they don´t have that beast presence anymore with the losses Of Daniel Theis and Nicola Melli. Obviously their depth is a strength, but their shooting is a big danger for all opponents as they were the third best three point shooting team and second best free throw shooting team. The club boasts four player scoring in double figures with Dorell Wright(13,3ppg, 5,8rpg,1,7apf 45%3pt), Ricky Hickman10,8ppg, 1,9rpg, 2,8apg) who is out for the season, Augustine Rubit(10,5ppg,4,0rpg 35%3pt) and Daniel Hackett(10,3ppg,4,2rpg,4,6apg 42%3pt). With such a deep roster, you can´t have 5-7 guys scoring in double figures, but have other talented scorers with Dejam Musli, Nikolaos Zisis, Luka Mitrovic, Dejan Musli and Mado Lo who averaged between 7,0ppg and 10,0ppg and can go off on any team for 15-20 points on any night.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Julian Gamble doing some play by play at the Gezieten Cup in Rhondorf in 2017

For the Telekom Baskets Bonn it was the second consecutive playoff appearance as they finished in fifth place with a record of 21-13. An advantage this season was that the club returned 5 players from last season and the club had an overall very solid season. They started the season off well winning their first three games and beat last season´s little darling ratiopharm Ulm in their opener. Despite their good start, they quickly then came back down to reality that the league is tough and that any team can win on any night as they lost five of their next eight games. However then came their best stretch from the beginning of December to the beginning of February as they won seven of eight games. A big reason was the arrival of Croatian Forward Tomislav Zubcic(14,3ppg,4,0rpg,1,1apg 45%3pt) who added a breath of fresh air and added that extra somewhat unexpected scoring punch and destroyed teams like Bamberg with 33 points and Bremerhaven with 27 points almost single-handedly They had big wins against Oldenburg, Frankfurt, Bamberg and Ludwigsburg. They then had two two game winning streaks and one three game winning streaks and went 8-6 the rest of the way, but could have easily been 12-2 as they lost very tight games to Ludwigsburg, Frankfurt, Berlin and Wurzburg. Their big strength is their scoring efficiency as they averaged 83 points per game seventh best in the league, but also belonged to the better defensive teams allowing 78 points per game seventh best in the league. The league can´t boast a much better guard trio than TJ DiLeo, Yorman Polas Bartolo and Konstantin Klein who give opponents bigger fits that nasty mosquito´s do people taking a walk along the Rhine river in the dog days of summer. They also are a very solid rebounding team averaging 31 per game sixth best in the league. With ex Miami(NCAA) center Julian Gamble(12,2ppg,6,4rpg,1,9apg) they have that rock under the boards that acts as the anchor and is a strong presence under the boards. Overall all players help out under the boards as five players haul down four or more rebounds per game. They belong to the top three point shooting teams, with Zubcic, Josh Mayo(14,4ppg,2,0rpg,3,1apg,44%3pt) and TJ DiLeo(7,5ppg,2,2rpg,3,5apg,40%3pt). They have additional strong role players with Malcolm Hill and Nemanja Djurisic who can give solid scoring punch from the bench. They had a 5-8 record against playoff teams getting swept by Munich and Berlin, but sweeping the EWE Baskets Oldenburg.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing TJ Dileo of the Telekom Baskets Bonn after the hard fough 81-76 win in Frankfurt

This could be one of the better Quarterfinal BBL series as the Telekom Baskets Bonn are hungry for the win simply because Bamberg is Bamberg even if they aren´t the quality that they were in the last years, they still have a huge standing and beating them anytime is like a second Christmas as Bonn already witnessed once this season.  Bamberg won at home 83-65 shooting near 50% from the two point range and forced Bonn to 20 turnovers and had four guys in double figures while Bonn won the rebound duel. In the return game, the 106-69 Bamberg massacre in Bonn, they dropped 14 treys and had nine more possessions then Bamberg as their defense was on fire as well as Zubcic who had 33 points. Both teams are great shooting teams so key will be who can be the better team in the paint. Even if Bonn has the edge there, because of the Bamberg rebound weakness, Bamberg really has to heighten their game in that area. They have some big bodies with Musli, Radosevic and Mitrovic and will have to be tougher than usual. The Telekom Baskets Bonn are the worst free throw shooting team in the league and if they can´t step it up in that area, then they could pay in close games when the free shots aren´t falling. The two key players in the series will be ex NBA player Dorell Wright who will hurt you with this three and his athleticism around the paint while for Bonn it will be Josh Mayo who had a good series last season against Bamberg  and will be burning to heighten his game even more this time around and also Julian Gamble who had a strong series last year averaging 16,0ppg, but has phases of being inconsistent and will need the same Gamble from last season´s playoffs or even better to have a chance of advancing. The bad news for the Telekom Baskets Bonn is that Brose Bamberg enter the playoffs playing their best basketball of the season with a 8-1 record and had two difficult test within 96 hours winning tough crunch-time games against weak teams MBC and Gotha. The Telekom Baskets Bonn will be their typical scrappy selves fighting until the end, but the depth and experience of Bamberg will haunt them in game 5 in Bamberg. The Telekom Baskets Bonn will play a hard nosed series, but in the summer Bonn fans will have forgotten about this series and always have the January 28th Bamberg massacre in Bonn in their thoughts as that will carry over until training camp in August.

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