Sometimes players will be forever remembered for a certain feat they accomplished than for anything else. Without really having to sit down and reflect and think too long about the question, things like Bill Russell’s 11 NBA titles in 13 years, Kobe Bryant’s 81 points or Will Chamberlain’s 100 point game stick out right away. It is isn’t any different for American Jonathan Paul Braeger (178-G) who not only experienced an incredible quadruple in the German regionalliga (4th division), but also scored 100 points in a 40 minute game. But as so often in life there was a catch to the extraordinary accomplishment that will pretty much be remembered just as much as his quadruple assistance of 12 rebounds, 16 assists and 12 steals. His team Baskets Vilsbiburg played against Wurzburg that had corona cases and didn’t want to play the game, but reschedule it, but Vilsbiburg didn’t cooperate and the game was played. Wurzburg had 5 players and in the second half had only 3 people. Braeger was playing 5-3 and in a way scoring open shots all night long. As great as the feat was, it was only normal that he would get a lot of hate. But the Wisconsin native carried himself like a true professional and two months later still remembers the game. ‘In all honesty the 100 point game was an amazing accomplishment but it’s not something I necessarily think about. I got a lot of love for that accomplishment but also got a lot of hate. Things have definitely died down. I don’t receive much hate anymore since it was a while ago but the love is still there from a lot of different players and of course my family and friends’, stressed Jonathan Paul Braeger. One thing is for sure, even if he got a lot of hate, his colleagues who leave it on the floor every night mostly understood what he went through and it was his duty to play. 80% of the players I talked to would have done the same thing. ‘I’ve talked to many professionals players and other basketball players and I would say 80% of them said they would of done the same thing like you said. I know it may of seemed selfish to a few people but as a professional I get paid to perform and compete no matter what the circumstances are’, stated Jonathan Paul Braeger.
He didn’t end the season with another 100 point game, but actually had to have his A game prepared as in the last game against Bamberg had to win a do or die game in order to keep the Baskets Vilsbiburg in the Regionalliga. He helped lead his team in the playdowns where the Baskets Vilsbiburg played against a few teams at the bottom for the ticket to stay in the Regionalliga. ‘Playing in the play downs this season was a bittersweet moment. It gave our club and myself more games to play. We were a pretty young team this season so it was nice to get more games in. We all would of loved to be in the playoffs but with our young and inexperienced team it was nice to get more games in to develop as individual players and as a team’, commented Jonathan Paul Braeger. As he demonstrated all season long, he once again had another masterful game with 21/8/15 stats. So being able to end the season on a positive note made him very happy. ‘ It was a very nice feeling winning our final game of the season. It’s every team’s goal to move up a league but unfortunately we missed that goal this season. Taking first place in the play downs secured our spot to stay in Regionalliga which is nice for the club’, expressed Jonathan Paul Braeger. One has to wonder how a competitor like him can enjoy a big game like he had considering he once scored 100 points in a game? ‘The most important thing before stats is winning. I love winning and it’s always nice to put up good stats but it’s more important to just compete and WIN! People don’t remember stats, people remember if you’re a winner’, warned Jonathan Paul Braeger. Despite scoring 100 points, he felt like nothing really changed after that with what teams threw at him on defense. ‘I’m not sure how many people noticed it. I mean it’s a crazy stat line and people that did see it were pretty amazed by it. Throughout the rest of the play downs I was basically face guarded full court all game. Even before my 100 point performance I still was getting face guarded most of the season as being one of the top scorers in the league’, said Jonathan Paul Braeger.
The 178cm guard who believes that the Golden State Warriors will win the 2022 NBA title in 6 games over the Milwaukee Bucks played his first season overseas and often guys that play in lower leagues quickly realize if continuing a career is worth it or not. The pay in the Regionalliga is little and often you are the only import on a team that has experienced and young Germans. But he was fortunate to be teammates with a real veteran with Kenny Fluellen who played in the German Pro A and Pro B, the two leagues above the Regionalliga where Braeger played. Playing with a player like that can only give him hope to continue to grind and move up the basketball ladder. ‘It’s been an absolute pleasure playing with Kenny. Coming in as a rookie Kenny took me under his wing and helped me tremendously. Kenny’s been a pro now for 8+ years and knows what it takes to play at a high level. The advice he’s giving me will stick with me for life. Couldn’t of asked for a better friend and teammate as a rookie. Kenny helped me stay focused and don’t give up. Even when times were hard with losing some close games this season he taught me to keep my winning mentality. To learn from the losses and keep pushing through the tough times. Kennys composure is amazing. He’s taught me to keep believing in myself and always push myself to get better’, added Jonathan Paul Braeger. As an American who is already 26, he was one of the older guys on the team and he was able to see the other players develop during the season. He had a birds eye view of which player was the most improved and which German kid made the biggest strides during the course of the season. ‘ I would have to say the most improved player this season was Thomas Kahlert. Thomas is one of the youngest guys on the team this season and this is his first year playing in Regionalliga 1 and he kept improving each and every week. He was our hype man with some nasty dunks and posters but also a great teammate that learned from all of us and is a very coachable player. Bright future for that kid. Besides Thomas I would say Mo made the biggest strides. Mo is the youngest player on our roster and this kid works. He plays on our club’s second team as well as the first team. He practices every single day and is the most coachable player. He’s only 20 years young and started playing basketball at age 16. So only playing basketball for 4 short years his improvement is incredible’, remembered Jonathan Paul Braeger.
The American who also gained professional experience with ABA teams Chicago Fury and Illinois Panthers and also played with the Wisconsin Blaze (WBL) had a brilliant first season overseas with the Baskets Vilsbiburg averaging 26.2ppg, 9.3 assists, 11rbs, 3.6 steals. After putting up stats like that, how can one not be content? ‘Individually I’m very satisfied with the numbers I put up. But more importantly I wish we would of won more. It was a great building season for the club as we had a handful of rookies including myself and our coach. I couldn’t of asked for any better teammates and coaches and I can see a lot of success coming in the future for the club of Vilsbiburg’, stressed Jonathan Paul Braeger. Coming from the States to overseas ball is never easy, but he had no adjustment period. ‘German basketball is very physical. The physicality is way more then what I was used to playing at UW Fox Valley. As a player your goal every season is to improve your game both mentally and physically. What separates a good player from a great player is knowing that there is always room for improvement and that there are better players then yourself out there. But the work ethic you have as an individual is what separates the good and great players’, said Jonathan Paul Braeger. He filled the stat sheet like no other and as a point guard was able to develop further which will help him make the next step next season. ‘I feel like the thing I matured most this season was learning how to control the game as a point guard. Learning how to control the pace of the game. It was one thing I really wanted to work on this season was controlling my pace. Playing back in the states I just wanted to run run run and go fast all the time. Not that going fast is a bad thing but there’s times and situations where you need to slow down and learn to control the game especially being a point guard’, commented Jonathan Paul Braeger. Not only did he make waves on the court and a reason to come back next season, but also the opportunity to experience wonderful new adventures off the court can help him return. ‘I made it one full season. Been blessed to stay healthy throughout this long season. My most memorable moments off the court was just traveling around Germany and the surrounding countries close by. The history behind everything and the scenery is beautiful. And of course hanging out with my teammates’, stated Jonathan Paul Braeger.
The Mr 100 point guy who played at Wrightstown high school and then at the University Wisconsin-Fox Valley will use his summer wisely. Even before he was on the plane back home to the States, he already knew exactly what his focus would be. Surprisingly it wasn’t seeking out his favorite eatery that he has dreamed of in the last 8 months, but about his career and where he wants to go with it. He knows that he is far away from being that complete player. ‘There’s always room for improvement. This summer I’ll be working my ass off in the gym. A couple things I really want to focus on is my finishing at the rim and my strength. With knowing how physical professional ball can be overseas I need to get stronger and learn to finish through contact. I’m not satisfied and I want to reach the level I know I can reach. The game of basketball is everything to me and has taught me many things. Not just the game alone but life lessons as well. I’ll keep pushing myself and I pray each and everyday to the man upstairs that a team will give me a opportunity to prove that I can play at the highest level here in Europe’, warned Jonathan Paul Braeger. Obviously his 100 point game helped put him more on the basketball map in Germany so why not come back to the place where he made history? ‘I would absolutely love to come back to Germany. The history and people here in Germany have done nothing but amaze me. The basketball here in a Germany is some of the best basketball in the world. My goal is to move up here in Germany but if not here I’m open to going to another country to experience the culture and different playing styles’, stressed Jonathan Paul Braeger. So when he is back home this summer and relaxing after a tough work out session, he won’t necessarily be thinking about how he produced bucket after bucket in Wurzburg, but being reflective about other beautiful moments in Germany off the court. ‘I don’t think much about my 100 point performance. That’s in the past now and although it was awesome to achieve, it’s not my fondest memory this season. I would say my best memory coming from this season is just building lifelong friendships. Each and everyone of my teammates made me feel welcomed from the very beginning. I love my brothers for life!’, warned Jonathan Paul Braeger. One thing is certain that despite pulling a Wilt Chamberlain in Germany, many people will still love Jonathan Paul Braeger no matter how he scored 100 points. He knows it was a unique experience, but at the end of the day, he cherishes the real finer things of life developing further as a person and continuing to build his character the right way.