EasyCredit BBL Playoff Preview 2018: FC Bayern Munich-Brose Bamberg 3-2

A week ago the Fc Bayern Munich basketball club had woken up not in high spirits, but unnerved and distraught most likely totally ruining for some players their traditional Bavarian Sunday breakfast of Weiss Wurst and soft scrumptious pretzels as they weren´t staring at a commanding 2-1 series lead against the ambitious and annoying Fraport Skyliners, but instead were reeling on the tight rope down two games to one with their season on the line. One of the biggest easyCRedit BBL playoff upsets was possible as the #8 seed Fraport Skyliners were close and on the verge of sending the #1 seed big mighty FC Bayern Munich packing and on their way into summer vacation. The 72 hours until game four must have been extremely brutal for everyone in the FC Bayern Munich organization as no one there had expected anything but an easy series win, but not having to experience such a pest like the Fraport Skyliners making their basketball lives very excruciating. The thoughts of the players for those 72 hours must have been wandering like crazy day and night. A Danilo Barthel might have thought was I not aggressive enough or was my beard not scary enough, A Jared Cunningham might have looked back to his NBA days and wondered what tips a Lebron James had given him when he experienced tough times that he could use now in this time of need in Germany or big tough German national player Maik Zirbes remembered what it took to win 5 titles in two seasons with Crvena Zvezda Telekom Beograd as everyone knew now there was no time for screwing around any longer on the court, but it was time for big business and bring some pride and clutch wins back to Germany´s most famous sports brand. A week later FC Bayern Munich is back in the Audi Dome not with disappointed and embarrassed faces saying farewell to their faithful fans and coming up with excuses why they stunk up the house against the Fraport Skyliners, but instead are the big mighty FC Bayern Munich again and on top of the world as they are in the easyCredit BBL semi-finals having to now battle reigning champion Brose Bamberg. The question now is can FC Bayern Munich use this high and momentum and play a better and less nerve wracking series against Brose Bamberg or will they panic and let the leagues big surprise team the last two months march into the BBL final? They have pure motivation to get Munich a title even more after the football department couldn´t overcome Eintracht Frankfurt in the cup final losing 3-1.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing ex NBA player Jared Cunningham after the 87-83 FC Bayern Munich win in Frankfurt

A sweep is a sweep, but for anyone who didn´t see a second of the series and only read the scores and neglected to gaze at the box scores might have thought that Brose Bamberg experienced a tasty cake walk with little interference against the Telekom Baskets Bonn, but that notion is deceiving because the series was a real battle and a lot closer than what the scores indicate. The Telekom Baskets Bonn can go into summer vacation with their heads held high because they have nothing to hide. The Telekom Baskets Bonn played well, had a little misfortune here and there and gave Brose Bamberg a real run for the money. In game one, Brose Bamberg won in Freak City 87-74. The Telekom Baskets Bonn did a great job securing the rebound duel for themselves and coughing up the ball only 7 times, but their three extra possessions didn´t help them further.

Their inability to connect from downtown as they went 4/20 and Bamberg´s better accuracy with 11 trey´s and their 8 extra free throws cost them the game. Dorell Wright was masterful posting 24 points and proving once again why he is the league´s top 1-1 player. The other strong 1-1 player Augustine Rubit was also hard to control netting 16 points. In game two, the Telekom Baskets Bonn had another solid showing, but couldn´t overcome Brose Bamberg at home losing 90-82. In this contest they rebounded better and shot the three better than Bamberg and did a good job taking care of the ball, but didn´t get to the free line enough and it was little things that cost them the game again, because they just weren´t clever enough. Once again the Bamberg duo of Wright and Rubit couldn´t be slowed down as they combined for 39 points. Bonn´s Julian Gamble scored in double figures for the second straight game, but overall Bonn didn´t have the overpowering figure to take over the game. In game three the Telekom Baskets Bonn didn´t lay down and die in Bamberg, but gave it their all one last time losing a tough 75-70 affair. Bamberg was only a little better on the boards and from outside, but Bonn had six less turnovers, had more bench points an hit three more free throws, but missed seven free throws. It was once again the little things that cost Bonn this game. It was no secret that a Bonn weakness is their free throw shooting and that came to bite them in their butt in game three. Once again the powerful duo of Wright and Rubit dominated combining for 33 points and keeping the Bamberg offense flowing. Brose Bamberg was simply the more clever team and were carried by Wright and Rubit who stayed consistent in the whole series. The Telekom Baskets Bonn didn´t have that luxury and that cost them.  Josh Mayo couldn´t duplicate his strong series against Bamberg from last season as he wasn´t a factor in game two or three combining for 15 points. Also key was that Bonn didn´t get that huge support from their important role players Zubcic and Djurisic. None scored in double figures and especially disappointing was that Zubcic couldn´t step up and contribute another 33 point like game that he had done a few months earlier in the Bamberg massacre in Bonn. Winning these tough close games against Bonn will help Bamberg´s confidence as they now meet FC Bayern Munich. The Telekom Baskets Bonn had a solid season and will look to make changes and add height to their strong guard rotation as that was missing in this series for success.

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

For German basketball fans, the exciting FC Bayern Munich-Fraport Skyliners 5 game clash will remain a classic and be remembered in both cities as FC Bayern Munich showed heart for coming back while Frankfurt showed extreme fighting qualities being able to be such an annoying and unexpected strong opponent. FC Bayern Munich came out as expected winning game one at home 85-72. Here the final score is more than deceiving as the Fraport Skyliners played a high-spirited game and had a close fight with Munich in the stats. The game was decided on the boards and a bit more fire power from Philip Scrubb could have been the difference as he mustered only 9 points. In game two the Fraport Skyliners defended their home court with passion winning a game they controlled 75-69. Frankfurt produced as a team sharing the ball well and finishing with six players scoring in double figures. The fact that Scrubb had 15 points and Tai Webster 0 gave them added confidence that they could win other ways. They took good care of the ball coughing up the ball only six times and played Skyliner basketball playing hard nosed defense that led to successful offense. Key was every time FC Bayern Mun ich tried to make that last push over the hump, Frankfurt made big shot after big shot silencing the Munich comeback. Game three could have been the turning point for the Fraport Skyliners winning 86-83, but they couldn´t take the overwhelming momentum and plaster the door shut at home in game 4. This was the most exciting game of the series as FC Munich had enough chances in crunch-time to end the series, but the pesky Skyliners always had an answer and came up big with a Scrubb trey with 18 seconds and had some fortune as Braydon Hobb´s last three didn´t count. Webster and Scrubb were solid combining for 35 points and the team also got another consistent performance from their legend Quantez Robertson with 14 points. Frankfurt won the rebound battle and nailed 13 three´s while FC Bayern Munich couldn´t take advantage of getting 38 free throws hitting only 28. In game four it was do or die for FC Bayern Munich, but they showed their real colors going into Frankfurt´s living room and crushing them 85-50 and showing that there wasn´t a class difference, but at least two or three on that night. They stuck it to Frankfurt from the get go and played a strong game for 40 minutes. They were better in every statistical category and finally played a real defensive game forcing Frankfurt to 16 turnovers while they took real good care of the ball with five turnovers. Key was limiting Scrubb and Webster combined to only 9 points. A strong Devin Booker and Jared Cunningham combined for 30 points as the one dominated inside while the other hurt Frankfurt with his three. In game five FC Bayern Munich eluded a scare allowing 26 points in the first quarter and then calmed down made adjustments and allowed only 44 points in the last three quarters winning 90-70. A big 14-0 run in the second quarter thanks to a key Reggie Redding who led the charge put FC Bayern Munich towards the winner´s circle. Once again FC Bayern Munich played a complete game for 30 minutes sharing the ball as six guys scored in double figures and stuck together on defense when it counted most. FC Bayern Munich controlled the play inside getting easy baskets and the boards and once again took good care of the ball having only eight turnovers. Key was top European point guard Stefan Jovic who plays with the same expression each game so if he had just won the lottery or had been sat on by Shaq, nobody would ever have noticed as he seems emotionless, but he saved his best for last as despite not being total fit he netted 19 points, dished out seven dimes and hauled down 10 boards. Key in the series was the FC Bayern Munich depth, their overpowering big men and controlling Scrubb and Webster in their wins. The Fraport Skyliners gave all they had and should be commended especially Quantez Robertson who at 33 hasn´t lost any of his skills finished the series in top fashion averaging 14,0ppg,5,0rpg,2,0apg,2,0spg and shot 8/15 from outside.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and 2017 European championship silver medalist with Serbia Stefan Jovic after the 75-69 Fraport Skyliners win against FC Bayern Munich

So what so often has been an exciting BBL final and at times utterly boring BBL final will now be a semi-final. In the history of the two clubs since FC Bayern Munich returned back to the BBL in 2011, they have played each other 52 times in regular season, cup, international and playoff action. The head to head battle in regular season, cup and international action is deadlocked at 18-18, but in playoff play is where Brose Bamberg have had their number going 12-4. Brose Bamberg win two thrilling series 3-2 and also swept FC Bayern Munich the last two times. FC Bayern Munich had their number this season sweeping the regular season. Both were tight contests where both teams defended well, but FC Bayern Munich were the better defensive team holding Bamberg to 65 points per game. FC Bayern Munich won the first meeting at home 77-68. Devin Booker and Jared Cunningham led the charge combining for 30 points despite Stefan Jovic being no factor with 0 points. Bamberg had a good outing from Dorell Wright with 14 points and 10 boards, but other than that nobody was able to step up consistently on the offensive end. The game was decided in the paint area where FC Bayern Munich controlled the boards and scored easier and more frequently around the hoop. In game two, FC Bayern Munich heightened their defense winning 71-63 in Bamberg. In this game FC Bayern Munich did another good job spreading the ball around as four guys scored in double figures and once again Cunningham and Booker carried the load combining for 25 points while German Danilo Barthel and Reggie Redding also scored in double figures. FC Bayern Munich once again decided the game inside with their bigs getting the needed points and boards for the win. Brose Bamberg come into the series with a week of rest while FC Bayern Munich is riding a high and having a lot of self confidence and momentum from the Frankfurt series. This will be a very dramatic and exciting series that will go the distance. The most interesting fact about the series is that this will be the first meeting with the two new coaches. Not much development has happened in the Munich camp, but since the Trinchieri era ended, Brose Bamberg is reborn and have a 14-2 record and are the hottest team in the BBL as FC Bayern Munich have a 14-4 record in that span. Even if FC Bayern Munich won the regular season, both teams are like new teams and this is an entirely open series that could go either way. Brose Bamberg have to find a way to slow down the FC Bayern inside game and match their physicality. Slowing down a Stefan Jovic will be important, but not half the rent to the series win as FC Bayern Munich have proven on different occasions that they can win by other means even if he isn´t in top form. Even if Brose Bamberg are playing their best basketball of the season, their overall consistency is a little suspect when comparing it to the FC Bayern Munich side. If FC Bayern Munich can find a way to limit Dorell Wright and Augustine Rubit, then that will be more than half the rent. Bamberg is more dependent on these two guys then FC Bayern Munich is on any of their players. The FC Bayern Munich aggressive defense, better inside play and overall better depth will get FC Bayern Munich over the hump and scamper into the final.

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