On a very balmy and beautiful early spring day in April the wiha Panthers entered the Ost Halle gym for their third playoff do or die game against Giessen and had solid support from their two stars Rasheed Moore and Bill Borekambi, but there was also that third player with Anell Alexis who stepped up in a huge way scoring 19 points and hitting 5/6 three´s the most in his career and had the game of his life even if he didn´t think so. “I don’t feel like it was to be honest with you. I try to treat every game in the same even-keel manner, so the fact that it was a win or go home Game 3 really didn’t make much of a difference to me mentally”, warned Anell Alexis. He won´t go into the next playoff game in Munster with special added confidence because of his 5 three´s in Giessen either. “I’ll have the same confidence that I always have going into the games that come because I understand that game happened because of the work I put in”, warned Anell Alexis. The American/Panamanian who has that memorable hair where some could say he came straight from the 70´s Disco era hasn´t always looked like that, but perhaps he got some valuable tips from his dad Wendell who was a teenager in the late 70´s and surely was sporting something to that nature. At closer inspection the name Alexis probably didn´t ring a bell for twenty somethings in the Ost halle gym as the only names that might ring a bell for them that played at Syracuse are current NBA players Carmelo Anthony, Dion Waiters or a Wesley Johnson, but 33 years ago there was Wendell Alexis who was doing his magic with memorable players like Pearl Washington, Sherman Douglas, Rafael Addison and Rony Seikaly there. For those people of the older generation in the 40´s, the name Wendell Alexis will surely bring back the golden age of Alba Berlin in the late 90´s when they were dominating the BBL winning 7 titles in a row and the elder Alexis led the team as he chipped in with 8 titles and at age 39 in 2004 averaged 18,1ppg in the BBL and helped lead the Mitteldeutscher BC to the Fiba Europe Cup title. Current BBL Dino´s like Mcelroy, Allen and Jenkins were young pups and probably didn´t recognize it, but now are following in his steps trying to outlast him and play into their 40´s. Obviously it is never easy for a son of a famous father to come to terms with the legacy, but for him the secret has been knowing the difference between him and his dad on the court and not letting a bad game ever affect him mentally or physically. “The main thing I really learned from my father and took with me is that is to stay even emotionally. Whether I have a game where I score 30 points or have a game where I score 3 points, as long you put the work in everything will even itself out over time. And for me it wasn’t really hard being his son as it wasn’t something I paid a whole lot of attention too. He and I have two different games. He was more of a stretch power forward while I mainly play the shooting guard/small forward position”, stressed Anell Alexis. Some ex players remain in Germany and find a new life as a head coach or other job, but Wendell Alexis returned back to New Jersey after he retired and that allowed Anell to grow up in the States which in a way was an advantage, but also had it´s negatives as being an Orange man from Syracuse will always leave memories with people. “I’m happy that I left Germany at the age that I did because I feel the transition would have been more difficult if I had left when I was any older. It wasn’t any easier in the sense of people recognizing my father because a lot of people knew him from having played at Syracuse when he was in college”, added Anell Alexis. All in all Anell Alexis has learned to block out his father´s legacy and learned to stay emotionally even to have a successful career.
Alexis was born on February 28, 1990 in Hillsborough, New Jersey. He had quite the globe trotter life as a child going everywhere where his dad was which included countries like Italy, Spain, Israel, and France. Then he found a home in Germany´s capital as his dad was 32 years old and would rack up numerous titles in the next 6 years and make himself immortal in Alba Berlin history. Son Anell was infected by the basketball bug and played with the Alba Berlin youth teams and saw the early development of current Alba guard Joshiko Saibou. In the time that he was growing up in Berlin and witnessing his father win title after title the way a Jordan did in the 90´s with the Chicago Bulls, he didn´t seem affected by the hoopla of his dad´s achievements or feel any pressure. “At that age most people didn’t make too big of a deal of it. It wasn’t until I got around the age of 11 and 12 that I noticed it, but for me personally I didn’t pay much attention to it. I was just having fun playing and winning”, said Anell Alexis. While his dad closed out his professional playing career in Greece and Germany in 2004 winning the Fiba Europe Cup, He went to the states in 2002 and wouldn´t return back to Germany until 2015 when he got his first playing gig with Bremerhaven. In his first years back in the States, he went to St. Benedict’s Preparatory School from 2002-2008 and then stuck on an extra year at prep school St. Thomas More School.
He then attended Marist(NCAA) from 2009-2013 which is around the corner from Hartford and the school that brought Germany Mr pass Jared Jordan. He played a total of 78 NCAA games and didn´t have much success there, but he played against some top basketball schools and big time players and remembers those years and what this experience taught him. “Those years were tough because we weren’t very successful as a team. The biggest thing I learned over the course of those four years were to believe in yourself even when it seems all odds are against you and to never stop putting the extra work in because it will pay off”, stressed Anell Alexis. Even if he never averaged more than 14 minutes in a season and his minutes were shaved down each season, he did have some memorable games like his 14/11outburst in the 71-67 victory over St Peters and his 22 points that he scored on his birthday to beat Siena. But one game he will never forget is a game that he lost by 50 points, but it was against powerhouse Kentucky where he scored 3 points and had 4 boards and battled against future NBA players like Lamb, Gilchrist, Miller, Teague, Jones and Anthony Davis came from the bench. He remembers that game like it was yesterday. “I just remember thinking that all of the stuff that we could normally get away with against other teams and players were not working that day. I also remember it being a four point game at halftime and they came out in the second half and blew the game open. Davis was doing things that I had never seen someone his size or his age be able to do. He was able to cover so much ground and cover for so many of his teammates’ mistakes that I knew he would be really good as he got older”, expressed Anell Alexis. After his four years at Marist, he was able to play an additional year and opted for Norfolk State where he was teammates with current BG Goettingen guard Pendarvis “Penny Williams and played 34 games averaging 7.3ppg, 3.4rpg, FGP: 50.4%, 3PT: 35.1%, FT: 78.3%. He helped the school reach the 2014 MEAC Tournament Semifinals. He was thankful for getting another opportunity to show his abilities and to develop further before embarking on a professional basketball career. “It was very important for me to leave and experience a different culture in college after Marist. I had gotten hurt my freshman year at Marist and was granted a medical redshirt which was what allowed me to leave to go to Norfolk State. I didn’t have too many thoughts as to what would have happened had I stayed at Marist for my graduate year”, stated Anell Alexis. Even if he took a step back to play in the NCAA 2, it was a vital choice for his game and he could gather last important ingredients for his game from head coach Robert Jones before he set off on a professional basketball career. “Coach jones is my guy. Honestley he taught me how to win again because at that point it had been 3 years of consistent losing.. and he also got me back playing in a freer and more instinctive manner which I had gotten away from playing in a rigid system at my old school”, stressed Anell Alexis.
The American/Panamanian started his professional basketball career in 2015 in Panama with whom he also was a part of the national team in 2012. He played his rookie season with Caballos de Cocle Aguadulce (LPB) playing 9 games and averaging 17.2ppg, 5.0rpg, 1.8apg, 1.2spg, FGP-3(58.0%), 3PT: 28.0%, FT: 66.7%. The game style and lifestyle fit him perfectly and he remained another season with Caballos de Cocle Aguadulce (Panama-LPB) playing 17 games: Score-5(16.6ppg), 4.5rpg, 3.8apg, FGP-2(59.9%), 3PT: 25.4%, FT: 76.7%. Three was a charm as he finally won the Panamanian title in 2018 with Universitarios (Panama-LPB) playing 15 games averaging 9.0ppg, 5.4rpg, 3.5apg, FGP: 48.1%, 3PT: 20.4%, FT: 70.6%. He will always have his time in Panama in his heart. “Winning that championship is a memory that I will never forget because it wasn’t something that anyone expected us to do. Life is more relaxed out in Panama compared to Germany, as well as there being a lot more sunshine and hot weather throughout the year”, smiled Anell Alexis. After his rookie season with Panama, he got his first gig in Germany with BSG Bremerhaven (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 13 games averaging 22.7ppg, 8.6rpg, 1.6apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 53.1%, 3PT: 27.5%, FT: 83.7%. He had an exceptional first season in Germany and one would have thought that this would have been the stepping stone to possibly starting his Pro B career a few years earlier, but he had other ideas and options. “I had the opportunity to play with a team in Panama that was going to play in the Ligas Las Americas, which is the South American equivalent of the Euroleague, and I wanted to test myself at the highest level possible”, warned Anell Alexis. He also won´t forget his first head coach Jan Lipke who was the first coach in Germany to believe in his abilities. “I’ll always appreciate coach Jan because he was the first coach to give me an opportunity to play professionally in Germany. He helped me a lot because he gave me a lot of insight from a coaches’ perspective on how things worked here and how to best approach things as a player, as he also played at a high level during his career”, stressed Anell Alexis. Last season he played his first full season in the Pro B with BBC Coburg playing 25 games averaging 6.3ppg, 3.4rpg, FGP: 49.0%, 3PT: 28.0%, FT: 85.7%. He scored in double figures in 7 games and had his moments drilling home 18 points in the 92-89 win against the Bayer Giants Leverkusen and added 16 points in the victories against Schwelm and Wurzburg. He needed very little adjustment period coming from the Panamanian league. “At first it was the speed of the league for the first game or two, but once I got used to that there was not a huge adjustment that needed to be made”, said Anell Alexis.
The American had tasted big time success in Panama and returned back to Germany to face a new challenge with the new Pro B team wiha Panthers Schwenningen and came at the end of November and it didn´t take him long to discover that he was playing with a very special organization. “The entire organization is very tightly knit. Players wives and girlfriends help out throughout the organization, the women’s team always supports us at our games, and we even have assistant coaches who coach youth teams. Everyone is helping one another in different ways”, warned Anell Alexis. He also understood quickly that a winning team need the right mix of players, but nothing is complete without the right coach that holds everything together and is able to construct a chemistry that will bring success. “Coach Velcic is a very hard-driving coach but I can appreciate playing for someone like that because there are days throughout the season were the team may not be giving it’s best effort, but he won’t allow us to give anything but that. He is a great motivator and helps everyone fight and give their best”, stated Anell Alexis. Alexis who lists Scotty Hopson as the toughest player he battled in the NCAA knows that the success of the wiha Panthers Schwenningen has been a combination of Velcic and his teammates and is thankful of being able to share the ball on a daily basis with it´s two best players Rasheed Moore and Bill Borekambi. “With the numbers Rasheed puts up on a consistent basis he has to be up for MVP consideration. He’s fun to play with because he’s still young so you can see him growing and maturing as a player with every game that we play. The most amazing play Bill has made since I have been here would be that last layup against Giessen. His body was parallel to the floor and he was still able to make it. He makes really difficult shots on an everyday basis so I can’t even say I’m surprised anymore when I see him make them”, stressed Anell Alexis. He also has the utmost respect for the guards Abaker and Karamatskos who so often change the game with big plays on offense and defense. “Abdul made a key steal when we were down four points with a minute to go against Giessen as well as the two free throws that followed. Kostas’ injury may have been a blessing in disguise because that allowed Abu to develop as a point guard uninhibited during that time. Kostas is actually a big joker but you would never know that unless you saw him outside of a game environment. At the same time, he keeps the team locked in and focused on the task that we have at hand, whatever that may be at that given time”, warned Anell Alexis.
The wiha Panthers Schwenningen have had an overwhelming exciting playoff series having beat SC Rist Wedel in three games and doing the same against Giessen and surviving three do or die games. There is the famous Gary Lineker quote and in the end the German football team always wins. In the last games the wiha Panthers Schwenningen haven´t only had a lot of luck, but been able to always win at the end like Germany once did. “I wish it was that easy but we really lock in and focus in these do or die games. None of them have been easy but we make all the plays that we need to make in order to win the game”, expressed Anell Alexis. Giessen gave it a great fight, but so did Wedel, but in the end it was that special heart and fight that have helped carry the wiha Panthers Schwenningen to so many wins this season. “Game three against Giessen was not decided until the literal last possession of the game. We were down double digits for most of the second half but we never gave up and that’s what helped us pull the game out at the end”, stressed Anell Alexis. Now head coach Alen Velcic and his players are ready for a new challenge against the energetic and feisty Munster team who like Schwenningen moved up to the Pro B after many years of being a top Regionalliga team, but always came up short winning the title. It will be the third series in a row where the wiha Panthers Schwenningen won´t have home court advantage again, but their playoff track record at 2-0 is perfect, but they will have to be very aware of one of Munster´s big strengths at home. “I feel like it will be a series of the team who can best impose their will on the game will have the best chance of winning the series. I like our chances in this series, but we have to be focused and locked in because Munster is a team that shoots the ball well, especially at home”, warned Anell Alexis.
Alexis came from Panama which is a league where defense isn´t necessarily on the basketball menu, but he knew that he would really have to be awake on defense playing under Alen Velcic. “I really didn’t have much choice to develop it if I wanted to play. I always prided myself on playing defense but playing with Coach Alen made me be a lot more physical and aggressive while playing it. I always liked to use my length to bother people on defense whereas he wants me to pressure players full court and never give them room to breathe”, warned Anell Alexis. He compares his game to a Brandon Roy and since coming to the Panthers has played 18 games averaging 6,1ppg and 3,3rpg while shooting 32% from outside. Even if he has scored in double figures in only 4 games including a 15 point effort against Wurzburg and 11 points against his ex team Coburg, he does a lot of things on the court besides score and his abilities are appreciated by his teammates. ““Anell is giving us some needed depth. He is a good player that has got a good jump shot is tall and helps us with our rebounding struggles”, added Bill Borekambi. He brings versatility to the court, but also knows that he will have his moments shooting the three and that is a part of his game that he will continue to tweak in the basketball lab. “I always feel like you can work on a daily basis even when you’re shooting the ball well. Your shot is what ages the best throughout the years so it will always be something that I work on consistently”, warned Anell Alexis. He didn´t have it easy at first as he was inconsistent and had his lapses on the defensive end, but with time he has gotten used to the Panthers style, teammates and head coach Velcic. Velcic may get on his back and be hard on him, but he knows it´s not personal. “He doesn’t let up. That’s what I appreciate the most. At the same time, you know he’s doing it with your best interests at heart. That always makes it easier to absorb the message he’s saying and not the way he’s delivering the message”, warned Anell Alexis.
Before he thinks about his future, there is still the current season to play and the way their luck has gone in the playoffs, the wiha Panthers might be able to make another huge surprise against Munster and keep their season going. There has been that myth that 29 year old Anell Alexis is already looking past basketball and preparing for a life after the game he loves. He has a business degree and has thoughts about going that route perhaps a bit earlier and hasn´t had that total seriousness about basketball, but that is totally incorrect. “I plan on playing as long as my body allows me too. I have my masters degree but the part about basketball not being the biggest focus of my life isn’t true. I just want to put myself in a position where I am prepared for life after my playing career is done”, warned Anell Alexis. For now Panthers fans can have fun watching Alexis continue to woo them with hopefully continued three point accuracy along with his versatile game while some of the older fans will still have his dad in their memories as he isn´t ready yet to hang them up quite yet. He might not be the same player that his dad was, but maybe he has that playing longevity in his genes that will allow him to play and enjoy the game for many more years the way his dad did