FC Bayern Munich might be the most famous and well known German sports team, but when it comes to German basketball competition the biggest duel and most intense rivalry of the last 10 years belongs to the two big B´s Alba Berlin and the Brose Baskets Bamberg as they have been battling each other for titles seemingly forever, but currently the Bavarian team having the 9-4 edge, but Alba Berlin has won the last two cups. Both teams are currently also the crème de la crème in the Beko BBL as they are 1 and 2 in the standings boasting a 23-4 record and hoping for bragging rights before the playoffs start in a month. Bamberg came into the game well rested having last played last weekend while Alba Berlin were still digesting their bitter 71-64 Euroleague loss to top Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv 48 hours ago as they were denied the ticket to the quarterfinals as the experience factor played a massive role in crunch time. Both teams had battled only one time this season as 6 time Beko BBl champion Brose Baskets Bamberg destroyed Alba Berlin 98-69 as the Bavarian team shot out the light Stephen Curry style hitting 13 three pointers and displaying six players in double figures. Alba Berlin was unable to crack the Bamberg defense hitting only four three pointers and presenting splitting head aches for head coach Sasa Obradovic all night long. Even though this semi final was the top game, it started at the unconventional time of 5.00pm a time where Brad Wanamaker or Reggie Redding are usually getting ready for a light pre game snack while the other semi final of the EWE Baskets Oldenburg and Telekom Baskets Bonn was the top draw at 8:00 pm to help cater to the home crowd. Despite a small lull in the third quarter, the Brose Baskets Bamberg controlled the game for 33 minutes and easily reached the final disposing of Alba Berlin 86-65. “We played very aggressive defense, had nice ball movement and took the lead quickly. We allowed Alba Berlin to come back, but we stepped up our defense in the fourth quarter and were able to finish the game in fine fashion”, stressed Brose Baskets Bamberg forward Karsten Tadda. “We were a bit tired coming into the game and Bamberg limited our pick and roll and just didn´t let us play to our strength. We played more intensive defense in the third quarter being able to come back. We decided to stop pick and roll and just banged the ball inside to Mclean and Banic and that worked. But they came back hitting big three pointers and Dalibor Bagaric hurt us inside”, stressed Alba Berlin guard Ismet Akpinar. The Brose Baskets Bamberg were led by Brad Wanamaker with 21 points. American Ryan Thompson added 18 points. Elias Harris and Trevor Mbakwe added 12 points a piece and Janis Sterlnieks contributed 11 points. Alba Berlin were led by their big men Marko Banic and Leon Radosevic with 11 points a piece. Jonas Wolfarth-Botterman gave energy from the bench with 10 points. Bamberg had a hot shooting night shooting 53% from the field and 41% from outside while Alba Berlin shot 40% from the field and couldn´t hit the side of a barn from downtown shooting a miserable 12%. Alba Berlin did win the rebound battle 30-29, but had 13 turnovers while Bamberg had 11 turnovers.
One of the many wonderful things about stepping on the court for basketball players is when two ex teammates meet again for the first time as opponents. This is a normal occurrence that happens often during the course of a season for each team in the Beko BBL. For two ex Beko BBL teammates to meet for the first time again after playing together may not be as emotional or as nerve wracking as the return of future NBA Hall of famers Brooklyn Nets Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce back in their old living room in Boston where they won their only NBA title in 2008. This season Ryan Brooks of the Telekom Baskets Bonn played against his ex team Frankfurt twice winning both games, Derrick Allen played against his ex team losing and ex Skyliner Konrad Wysocki and Dominik Bahiense De Mello swept their ex team. With the battle of Frankfurt against FC Bayern Munich, it was time for two ex teammates to duel even if they don´t play the same position. What do you get when you have big curly haired like teddy bear weighing 128 kilos that is known as big country and could probably carry ex teammate Per Guenther on his palm while batteling for position and a forward from Missouri that looks like a surfer boy that just arrived from Hawaii from the surf world championships? Well you get John Bryant and Dane Watts meeting again. They played together for one and a half seasons in Ulm reaching the Beko BBl final in 2012. Watts joined the Fraport Skyliners in January 2014 and was facing John Bryant for the first time since their days in Ulm. Even though they don’t play the same position, both guys were happy to see each other again, but on account Dane Watts suffering a broken nose in Ludwigsburg last weekend, he was unable to help the Fraport Skyliners upset the big mighty FC Bayern Munich 67-62, but rather watched closely from the bench as big John Bryant played in his new role with FC Bayern Munich. “It was nice to see him again and it is always fun to go against an ex teammate in a real game. Even if I didn´t play, I was just happy that we got the win. Bryant wasn´t so aggressive at the start, but he hit some big three pointers in crunch time. He was a league MVP twice for a reason. They have so many weapons that he just picks his spots”, stressed Missouri native Dane Watts. “I was sad that I couldn´t compete against Dane Watts tonight. He is a great guy and very smart player and it is always nice to see him”, added California native John Bryant.
It is often said that a person learns best when being confronted by something at an early age, learning by doing or just being exposed to it and getting experience. One of these basketball players that perfectly fills the shoes of a guy that learned how to avoid confrontation and tough situation was FC Bayern Munich guard Malcolm Delaney. He didn´t grow up in Beverly Hills, Lakeshore East in Chicago or Coconut Grove in Miami, but grew up in east Baltimore one of the more avoidable places where one would want to go on account of its violence. He had to learn at a young age in what direction he had to go as a person and on the court. Of course his parents gave him the right guidance and it helped that as a five year old, he had to play against the bigger kids aged 10-12 because there were no programs for kids that young. He learned to be tough at a young age which also helped the mental side to develop mental toughness on the court. Mental toughness is a collection of attributes that allows a person to preserve through difficult circumstances and escape without losing confidence. He didn´t go to a Duke or North Carolina where he would have won many games easily, but instead went to Virginia Tech where the easiness to win isn´t served to you on a silver platter like at Kansas or Ohio State. But Delaney did play in possibly the toughest conference in the NCAA with the ACC where he battled against all the top schools in North Carolina and also big time schools like Syracuse and Wake Forest. He never won an ACC title, and only reached one semi final, but what better way to grow as a player mentally then playing against the best each weekend. His ability to get through difficult situations and lead a team has been demonstrated best in his first two seasons as a professional as he is four for four and is looking for a fifth and sixth title with FC Bayern Munich. In 2011-2012 as a rookie, he didn´t wait long to get that first title, but right away three with Chalon in France. Chalon was a team that nobody had on the radar, but the Baltimore native was one of the main factors with Blake Schilb and Ilian Evtimov why they won two cups and the league title. Last season, he helped Budivelnyk Kyiv (Ukraine-Superleague) win the league title. Ex teammate Frank Robinso who played in Germany for Ludwigsburg and Wurzburg was more than impressed the first time he saw him play. “I believe his ability to score is amazing. He scores from everywhere on the court. The first time I saw him play was when I signed in Ukraine. The day I arrived they played a game and he shot an high arcing floater off one leg from the free throw line. It was like 2mins to go in a close game. Nothing but net. I ladled Leo Lyons about the shot and Leo said “that’s his shot.” Very soon after I realized it was something that he did pretty often”, stressed Frank Robinson. Now with FC Bayern Munich he has the chance to win two more titles which would give him six in three years.
Fans in the Audi Dome Munich always have a treat as they get a smorgasbord of different kind of players racing up and down the floor from the home team from quick footed Malcolm Delaney who seemingly can draw a foul as easily as David Ortiz can squash an orange with his palm, Heiko Schaffartzik dazzling the fans with his wild and acrobatic shooting from outside as the only thing missing from his collection of amazing shots is trying to hit the bells in the city hall building at the top of the hour or big John Bryant making the zone as uncomfortable for opponents as it is for New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton to watch the Drive of Tom Brady in the recent 30-27 loss to the New England Patriots. Fans may not have as many familiar faces on the Fraport Skyliners to watch, but guys like Andrew Rautins who can shoot out the lights and exchange catch and pop stories with Heiko Scahffartzik, Dawan Robinson who can penetrate like a Georgia Bull dog without biting his opponent and having him for dinner, or Jacob Burtschi who will do anything on the court to win except for begging for shots like a well nourished dog who knows better but tries its luck. Both FC Bayern Munich and the Fraport Sklyiners have very talented players, but there is one difference in the rosters. When one releases the two numbers of 524 and 44, the difference is as great as it is for a poor dog having to cross the Rhine river or it is for Tim Tebow ever finding another NFL team as the closest he is too playing football now is touch football on the beach of Hawaii. These two numbers show the difference in international club games between the two clubs as FC Bayern Munich players have 524 and the Fraport Skyliner players have only 44 games. Fc Bayern Munich little used guard Steffen Hamann almost has twice as much as Frankfurt with 81 games. The Fraport Skyliners came into the game with a two game winning streak going up against the 4-0 FC Bayern Munich team and played without Quantez Robertson and Azit N’Diaye and got clobbered 97-65 as the experience factor was as huge as the Olympia tower compared to the bear that greets people who arrive to Munich on the highway. “Having the experience factor is huge for us. The club found many experienced players and that really has helped us so far. It is one of the reasons why we are 6-0. We gain experience each day and that will help us throughout the season”, stressed 2 time Beko BBL MVP John Bryant. After the loss Skyliner point guard Dawan Robinson was doing his stretching and got wide eyes when talking about the FC Bayern Munich experience. “Their vast experience showed tonight. They started quick and executed well and did the little things well. We fought against their experience, but it wasn´t easy playing against the best team in Europe”, stressed Philadelphia native Dawan Robinson. Despite the shell shocking, ex Alba Berlin guard Bryce Taylor tried to have comforting words for Frankfurt. “Our experience hurt them, but you play to get experience. I think these type of games will help them down the line. The German players will keep growing”, commented Bryce Taylor. Fraport Skyliner Konstantin Klein who played 21 minutes scoring seven points explained that it wasn´t only experience that hurt Frankfurt. “I don´t think that experience played so much a factor tonight as it does in close games. Munich worked harder than we did on rebounding and hustled more”, warned Konstantin Klein.
In the last weeks, going to the Octoberfest in Munich is about as normal for Bavarian citizens as it is for Bostonians to visit the Harborfest during the fourth of July week, New York folk going for a walk down the street and seeing some kind of Hollywood film being made or for Chicago natives to eat a yummy Vienna beef dog which is their own special version of the Hog Dog. It is also not uncommon in Munich to observe players of FC Bayern Munich soccer team like Bastian Schweinsteiger, Frank Ribery or Thomas Mueller to spend some time there and mingle and enjoy the massive Bavarian tradition or even players from the FC Bayern Munich basketball department like John Bryant, Steffen Hamann or Chevon Troutman experiencing some extra out of the ordinary German culture. People may criticize this for the sake of too much partying, but why shouldn´t these two teams enjoy themselves when both clubs are sitting at the top of their respective standings with FC Bayern Munich soccer with a 6-0 record and the basketball department with a 4-0 record? Especially the basketball department is slowly starting to prove their doubters wrong that something very special is brewing in Munich this season and I am not talking about the oldest brewery in Munich the Augustiner. Since the arrival of FC Bayern Munich basketball back to the top German league in 2011, the club has been seen positively and negatively in that they are good for the overall league, but on the other hand have certain little advantages to the other clubs in things like budget or TV revenue and from the start have been condemned to always win games. It isn´t easy having to live in the shadow of the so famous FC Bayern Munich soccer department with 59 titles and 23 German league titles and especially in a time like now after they won three titles including the Champions League which makes them the best team in the world. Having to win each season heightens the pressure of FC Bayern Munich basketball each season a bit more. The sense of urgency needing to win is especially giant this season as the club has put together seemingly the best roster ever in the league as the only word the club understands and would have plastered to each player on their forehead invisibly if that was possible is WIN. “I think that it is important for them an dthe Beko BBL that they are successful in the Euroleague to help bring the club and league forward. The club is the most important motor for the league on account of their brand. Of course winning the German title would help them play Euroleague next season”, stressed Telekom Baskets Bonn guard Andrej Mangold. This season the club has started off with a 4-0 Beko BBL start and just tore apart medi Bayreuth last weekend 103-71. Even when an opponent plays very well, it isn´t enough, because it seems like you could use a few Kevin Durnants to fill the void. Medi Bayreuth guard Simon Schmitz saw first hand how destructive FC Bayern Munich is and has already his prediction for the club and tip to future opponents how to play them. “I never felt that they had any pressure on the court to win. They will at least reach the final and probably play Bamberg. Their defense and fast break is their biggest strength. Future opponents have to find a way to stand alert against their constant pressure for 40 minutes”, warned medi Bayreuth guard Simon Schmitz.
Chevon Troutman is a 31 year old 202cm forward form Williamsport, Pennsylvania that recently completed his second season for FC Bayern Munich playing 37 games averaging 12.2ppg, 5.6rpg, FGP: 65.8%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 77.9%. He is a tough, talented rebounder, athletic defender, tough offensive player and fierce competitor who plays with much passion. He has contributed primarily in the low-post but also can play on the perimeter. He played at Pittsburgh (NCAA) from 2001-2005 and in his senior year played 29 games: 15.0ppg, 8.0rpg, 1.5apg, 1.2spg, FGPConf-2(56.6%), 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 71.2%: Finished career ranked first all-time in career field-goal ntage (.625) and ranked in top-20 all-time among Pittsburgh scorers with 1,274 points. He reached the NCAA Sweet 16 three times. In 2005-2006 he played for Villaggio Solidago Livorno (Italy-SerieA, starting five): 34 games: 15.0ppg, 7.2rpg, 1.0apg, 2.3spg, 2FGP: 64.8%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 62.2%. He then played for Adecco ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne (France-ProA) playing a total of 118 games. He then played for Air Avellino (Italy-SerieA) from 2009-2012. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball during the last season
Is FC Bayern Munich the most professional basketball team that you have ever played for?
Not it hasn´t. I played in France for a team that worked in a very professional way like FC Bayern Munich does.
Were you sad when Dirk Bauermann had to go?
Well that is a part of the business. Players and coaches come and go. FC Bayern Munich wanted to go in a different direction. When a change happens you always want keep moving forward and get those pieces that fit.
Since Svetislav Pesic has been coach it has run very well for FC Bayern Munich. What have been the main reasons for that?
Pesic has a basketball style that is very understandable to players. Many played this type of style while growing up. It is always easier to adapt to a style when one is familiar with it.
Ilian Evtimov is a 30 year old 201 cm forward that recently completed his third season in France for Chalon playing 30 games averaging 9.6ppg, 3.2rpg, 2.0apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 48.3%, 3PT: 41.3%, FT: 86.5%; Euroleague: 9 games: 8.8ppg, 2.1rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 47.1%, 3PT: 34.0%, FT: 78.9%. He has the French-Bulgarian citzenships and played at North Carolina State from 2001-2006. In his senior year, he played 31 games averaging 10.4ppg, 3.7rpg, 2.5apg, 1.2spg, FG: 45.3%, 3PT: 40.8%, FT. After a short stint with Estudiantes Madrid in 2006, he played at VidiVici Bologna in the 2006-2007 season. He played FIBA EuroCup playing 15 games averaging 6.3ppg, 2.4rpg, 2FGP: 65.4%, 3FGP: 47.1%, FT: 72.2%; and playing15 games in the Italian league averaging 3.1ppg, 2.1rpg. In 2007-2008, he moved to The Deutsche Bank Skyliners playing 10 ULEB Cup games averaging 14.5ppg, 3.4rpg, 1.7apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 48.3%, 3PT: 40.7%, FT: 85%; and in the German League playing 44 games averaging 13.1ppg, 5.1rpg, 2.1apg, 1.3spg, 2FGP: 41.4%, 3PT: 33.9%, FT: 86.2%. In 2008-2009, he continued playing in Frankfurt playing 10 EuroChallenge: games averaging 8.3ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.7apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 45.2%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 70.0%; and in the German League playing 34 games averaging 8.5ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 43.6%, 3PT: 38.3%, FT: 74.6%. In 2009-2010, he played for BC Levski Sophia (Bulgaria-NBL): 1 game: 6pts, 5reb, 2ast, 3steals; Balkan League: 1 game: 3pts, 1reb, 1ast, 2steals; in Oct.’09 moved to Proteas EKA AEL Limassol (Cyprus-Division EuroChallenge: 13 games: 10.9ppg, 3.3rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 46.8%, 3PT: 45.6%, FT: 83.3%: FT-2(90.9%). In 2010-2011, he played for Chalon playing 33 games: 11.6ppg, 4.2rpg, 1.9apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 50.5%, 3PT: 39.8%, FT: 84.2%. In 2011-2012 he played French League: 35 games: 9.9ppg, 4.1rpg, 1.7apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 42.4%, 3PT: 42.0%, FT-1(94.7%); EuroCup Qualifications: 2 games: 9.0ppg, 1.5rpg; EuroChallenge: 16 games: 10.0ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.3apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 35.7%, 3PT: 46.0%, FT-1(95.2% He spoke to German Hoops about Chalon and his ex teammate Malcolm Delaney who will play for FC Bayern Munich.
Evti where are you at the moment and how have you been spending your summer?
Im in Bulgaria right now, we are about to have our second baby. My wife is due very soon. I went to the States for two weeks, and then have spent the rest of the summer in Bulgaria.
How was your time in North Carolina at North Carolina State working out? Did you have any good duels with Deon Thompson this summer?
I was in North Carolina for only two weeks, and it was right after the season so I didn’t run into Deon as I took the time off from basketball right after the season.