The Gießen 46ers started the new season with great ambition and confidence. After being granted a wild card by the BBL, Gießen vowed to not make the same mistakes they did in the past and wanted to come out running early. Now, six games into the new season, Gießen finds itself yet again in last place in the BBL. Technically, they are still 15th in the league (thanks to the strange new FIBA rule that gives teams a point for just showing up), but the 46ers remain the only one of the 18 teams in the BBL that is still winless. Sure, the 46ers caught a bad break with injuries to starters Lorenzo Williams and Johannes Lischka, both of whom will be out for the next four to six games. And yes, Gießen played a strong game against ALBA, giving the odds-on-favorite all it could handle in an overtime loss. ALBA’s recent loss in Tübingen, however, helps put this game in perspective, as Berlin’s slow start to the BBL season (due to their Euroleague qualification games) has led to ALBA not being as consistent now as they undoubtedly will be later on during the season.
For the second time in their storied history (after 2004), the Gießen 46ers finished the season in a relegation position in the standings. Fortunately for the BBL’s lone remaining original team, 2009 also marked the second time that the club stayed in the league even though they did not make it in sportive terms. While in 2004 Hagen and MBC Weißenfels were relegated due to financial reasons this time the BBL provided the 46ers with a wild card. The wild card proved to be the forgiving end to an otherwise very forgettable season. The turbulent year saw, in order, the following strange things: Perennial bench warmer Florian Hartenstein (career scoring avg. 2.8 ppg) started the season on a mean streak, averaging 14.5 ppg through the first two games. Former German international Robert Maras failed to display anything resembling a quality starting center. Longtime fan favorite Gerrit Terdenge just looked old. Both of them have since signed with second division (Pro A) teams. Veteran guard Danny Lewis left the team, feeling dissatisfied with his role. The team brought in two American guards to try out as replacement for Lewis, playing both of them in league games and opted to cut Brandon Worthy in favor of Ricky Hickman. Former scout-turned-coach Simon Cote was fired, head of basketball operations Vladimir Bogojevic took over coaching duties. This meant that assistant coach Gerald Wasshuber had to work with the third coach in less than eight months. Maurice Jeffers suffered a season-ending injury. Since the deadline to sign new players had already passed, Gießen brought back previously cut Brandon Worthy, looking desparately for some offense.
Former german national player Bogojevic could give the team some new inspiration with a two game winning streak when he took over. But in the last 10 games only one more win could be secured. Still german talent Jannik Freese thinks that Bogojevic did a good job and is looking forward to the new season:
“Vladi gave us a new look as a team, we are more of a defense first, fast break team now, I think thats suits the players we got very well, and if we stick together and play as a team we can be a good team.”
Year two in Düsseldorf is going to be interesting for the Giants, who took over much of the former Bayer Leverkusen Giants organization. After failing to attain their goal of reaching the playoffs, coaches Achim Kuczmann and Hansi Gnad focus on continuity, keeping most of last year’s roster intact. Despite a promising start to their inaugural season in Düsseldorf, the Giants ended the season a disappointing 14th in the league, but only four games behind a playoff spot.