One thing that hardcore easyCredit BBL fans can forever be grateful about is that there have been certain league identity figures that have played longer than most and for some stayed faithful to the same organization for their whole career in Germany. If one was really bored on a rainy afternoon in Jena and wouldn´t have a nice view on top of the 160 meter Jentower to observe the beautiful hills around the city and one wasn´t in the mood to visit one of the many city museums, one could continue to wonder how much longer the three Jena amigo´s of Derrick Allen, Julius Jenkins and Immanuel Mcelroy will still continue to play as they are in their late thirties and combined have the magical age of 113 years. Some fans place a special mark on the calendar to especially see them and others will dread the day when the first of them hangs up his sneakers. Then again there are two other BBL identity figures and legends in the making with Mr Skyliner lifer Quantez Robertson of Frankfurt and Mr Oldenburg Rickey Paulding who combined are in their 22nd season in Germany and combined have racked up three titles and also have been combined on the floor in Europe in 961 games prior to this season. One also can´t forget German Per Guenther who could have left ratiopharm Ulm years ago for more lucrative offers, but remained where the heart wanted to be. But who will be the future players in the easyCredit players that will have that amazing role model work ethic and discipline of a Derrick Allen and just keep playing seemingly forever and share that passion and loyalty to remain with just one team and not change teams as often as a Tom Brady has thrown to different targets which stands at 71 receivers. Ok so being with one team for so far only three seasons is nothing special as one could count more than a handful of guys who have been there that long and heck there was even Mike Morrison who played four years in Frankfurt and surely would have loved to have remained longer, but that B word always gets in the way called business. But for medi Bayreuth forward De´mon Brooks his first three years have been very special there and with the continued success of the club he might just stick around for a longer period of time. Could De´mon Brooks be Medi Bayreuth´s version of a Tez or Paulding?
Nikolas Raivio is a 32 year old 192cm shooting guard that was born in Antwerpen, Belgium and has the Germanand American citzenships. He is the brother of former BBL player Derek Raivio and will play his first season in Germany with medi Bayreuth. He played the last three seasons with Legnano Basket Knights (Italy-Serie A2) and last season played 33 games averaging 18.2ppg, 6.8rpg, 3.8apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 50.6%, 3PT: 40.3%, FT: 81.1%. He also played two seasons in Hungry as well as in countries like Greece, Sweden and Belgium. He also had a stint in the D-league with the New Mexico Thunderbirds. He played college ball at Portland (NCAA) and in his senior year played 17 games averaging 14.0ppg, 6.1rpg, 2.0apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 42.5%, 3PT: 28.8%, FT: 63.2%. He spoke to Germanhoops.com earlier in the summer about basketball.
Nik thanks for talking to Germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how have you been enjoying your summer?
I’m well, thanks. At the moment I’m still in Italy and will spend most of the summer here
Congrats on signing with German team medi Bayreuth. You’re going into your ninth professional season and played in countries like Italy, Hungary, Belgium, Greece. Brother Derek played for some years in Germany. With your connections and game can you explain why it took you so long to finally play for a German team?
Thanks and I really don’t know. I’ve had interest in the past from the BBL but I never saw an offer. I also liked my situation the previous seasons and decided early on to stay instead of waiting to explore other options
Your father played a game in Bayreuth 32 years ago. What does it truly mean playing for medi Bayreuth and being there where your dad once played as a professional player?
Pretty crazy to think about that. I imagine my brother played in the same gym too.
Joining Bayreuth is a completely new experience for me. I heard great things about the team, coach and club and can see they have a lot of home court support from fans. To keep the winning ways going in the BBL and European competition is something I’m really excited about!
It was supposed to be the big weekend for the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in Athens with the perfect story book ending with the club returning home with the 2018 Basketball Champions League title bringing some added special prestige to the 87,000 populated city of Ludwigsburg, giving the club only the 5th international German club title, bringing the versatile Thomas Walkup some added elevation in his stock as he is on the verge of the NBA and Euroleague and bringing head coach John Patrick another step up into the elite coaching corner in Germany as his development of the club in the last years has not only deserved unending praise, but the utmost respect as his work is exemplary, but instead the team returned home without a title and only a disappointing fourth place finish as they lost both games. The most satisfying aspect the club most likely could bring back to German soil was having had a free 48 hour vacation in the breathtaking city of Athens as a visit off the court to the famous Akropolis which is as much of a must see as it is visiting the Residenzschloss in Ludwigsburg and on the court having the pleasure and opportunity of witnessing the amazing Oaka Olympic Indoor Hall that seats 18,989 crazy and loud fans that make an arena visit so unforgettable that just being there for a game can supply exciting stories for a lifetime that could easily overshadow any incredible play, amazing shot, no look pass or crushing dunk seem like an absolute side note. Perhaps the unbelievable energy level and noise level of the OAKA arena could of doused the intense thoughts of head coach John Patrick at times after the loss in the arena, but then again his competitive nature most likely didn´t let him. The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg lost their semi-final game to the French squad Monaco on Friday night 87-65 that boasted ex Alba Berlin center Elmedin Kikanovic and played a solid first half, but lost their rhythm in the second half getting outscored 51-27 and had problems taking care of the ball. One of the worst things about a final 4 tournament is losing in the semi-final and having to play that unwanted game for third place. Instead of hiding your head in the sand and then flying home quickly, one has to remain and battle the unending thoughts about what went wrong in the semi-final and what could have been done better to win as well as try to focus on winning the game for third place. The German club were unable to salvage at least one positive thing on the court and went home 0-2 losing to Spanish side Murcia 85-74 as they got killed on the boards as the injured Justin Sears really was missed. Instead of leaving Athens on a massive high, the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg have to shift gears now and get ready fast for the easyCredit BBL playoffs as they meet tough opponent medi Bayreuth. Can the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg forget their disappointing Athens weekend on the court and be ready for medi Bayreuth, or will they suffer a second heartbreak in a row? Anyone that knows John Patrick, knows that he is a fighter and will have his torn and battered club ready for medi Bayreuth and not fall over and wilt like a flower.
It was an incredible season for the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in the easyCredit BBl as they finished in third place with a record of 26-8 which was their best record dating back to the surprise second place finish in the 2006-2007 season. It was also the most successful season for John Patrick with the MHP Riesen as coach as he had two eighth place finishes and one fifth place in 2015-2016. They started well winning 8 of their first 9 games, but then had a little drought losing 2 of three games getting beat by Munich and Wurzburg. Then they were back to their old consistent ways winning 11 of 13 games, but did get swept by FC Bayern Munich. They finished the season with a 5-3 record losing to teams like Bamberg and Alba Berlin. John Patrick did a great job being able to build a strong team that quickly found their chemistry and their roles as he almost completely added new players as the only guy from last season was veteran David Mccray.
Assem Marei is a 25 year old 206cm forward from Cairo, Egypt playing his third professional season and second with medi Bayreuth. Currently he is averaging 12,6ppg, 6,7rpg and 1,5apg in the easyCredit BBL and 11,6ppg and 5,6rpg in the Basketball Champions League. Last season for medi Bayreuth he played 36 games averaging 11.9ppg, Reb-2(7.2rpg), 1.3apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 54.9%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 62.8%. In 2015-2016 he played his rookie season for BC Siauliai (Lithuania-LKL) playing 37 games averaging 12.1ppg, Reb-2(7.5rpg), 1.2apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 54.4%, FT: 53.6%; In the FIBA Europe Cup he played 6 games averaging 12.5ppg, 10.8rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 62.7%, FT: 64.7%; and in the Baltic League, he played 8 games averaging 12.3ppg, 7.6rpg, 1.0apg, 1.0spg, Blocks-5(1.1bpg), FGP: 58.3%, FT: 68.3%. He started his career with Al Zamalek (Superleague) and then played at Minn.St.-Mankato (NCAA2) from 2012-2015 olaying 85 games and as a senior played 20 games averaging 19.3ppg, 8.6rpg, 1.3apg, 1.8bpg, FGP: 62.6%, FT: 59.2%. He spoke to German Hoops after the Basketball Champions League loss to the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg and before the BBL clash against the Fraport Skyliners.
Assem, thanks for talking to German Hoops. medi Bayreuth were denied a trip to the Basketball Champions League Final 4. How tough was this loss? You started out well in the first quarter, but from the second quarter until the end, you had to play catch up basketball. What was key for Ludwigsburg getting to the Final 4?
Their physicality and their aggressiveness played a huge part in their win. They are a good team with a deep roster, and they were in the same position last year with a one point deficit. It was a really tough loss but we are very proud of what we have done this year in the champions league.
Despite this loss, do you feel like this will motivate the team not to sink their heads and finish the season strong?
Yes of course, we need to come out with energy and concentrate on BBL games.
How does it feel being the first Egyptian player in the EasyCredit BBL? What have been your best experiences in Germany having this unique title?
I don’t really thing about it that way, but I’m grateful for this experience and I hope it will open doors for other Egyptians and portray my country in a good way. It was nice to see how much support I actually did receive from the fans, some of them would also show up to our games with an Egyptian flag and that meant a lot.
James Robinson is a 24 year old 190cm guard from Mitchellville, Maryland that is playing his second professional season and first with medi Bayreuth (Germany-BBL) averaging 8,6ppg, 2,2rpg and 3,8apg. Last season as a rookie he played with BC Igokea Aleksandrovac (Bosnia-Division I) helping them win the cup playing 16 games averaging 15.1ppg, 4.3rpg, 3.8apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 61.1%, 3PT-2(48.8%), FT: 75.8%; He also played in the Adriatic League playing 24 games averaging 12.8ppg, 3.5rpg, 3.7apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 48.6%, 3PT: 32.9%, FT: 86.3%. Before turning professional he played at Pittsburgh (NCAA) form 2012-2016 playing a total of 137 games and as a senior played 33 games averaging 10.2ppg, 3.2rpg, 5.0apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 40.4%, 3PT: 32.5%, FT: 75.8%. He spoke to German Hoops before the Basketball Champions League game against the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg.
James congrats on a fine season with medi Bayreuth. We are coming up to the stretch run of the season. Medi Bayreuth is in the Basketball Champions League quarterfinals and in fourth place in the EasyCredit BBL standings. How good is basketball life for you at the moment?
I’m loving playing basketball here in Bayreuth. The fan support has been great and our team is continuing to get better and better each day as we approach the end of the regular season.
A big basketball battle starts in the Basketball Champions League tonight with medi Bayreuth against the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg. How excited are you for this and how confident are you that you can advance past this very tough team?
I’m really excited to be competing with my teammates as one of the 8 teams remaining in the BCL. I think it shows how strong the basketball is in the BBL to have two of its teams represented this late in such a big time international event. The games will be hard fought and filled with a lot of excitement, but if we play how well we know we can, we will advance.
Medi Bayreuth has to have a lot of revenge after the embarrassing 78-47 loss. What memories do you have from that nasty loss?
It was a bad game from us on that night, we have learned from it and gotten better since.
Gabe York is a 24 year old 190cm guard from Orange, California playing his second professional season and first with medi Bayreuth. Last season as a rookie he played for Vanoli Cremona (Italy-Serie A) playing 6 games averaging 4.3ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.5apg, left in Nov.’16, later that month moved to Erie Bay Hawks (D-League) playing 44 games avergaging15.8ppg, 4.2rpg, 3.7apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 51.4%, 3PT: 36.1%, FT: 83.7%. He played at Arizona from 2012-2016 playing a total of 124 games and as a senior played 34 games averaging 15.0ppg, 3.2rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 42.5%, 3PT: 42.1%, FT: 75.6%. With Arizona he won the Pac 10 tournament in 2015 and reached the NCAA Elite 8 twice and NCAA Sweet 16 once. He spoke to German Hoops before the 2018 easyCredit BBL cup semi-final game against Alba Berlin in Ulm.
Gabe thanks for talking to German Hoops. Congrats on the great season. Fourth place in the BBL, playoffs in the Basketball Champions League and top 4 cup appearance. How good is basketball life right now?
It´s been really good. After coming off a bad experience in Italy last season and playing in the NBA Summer League where I had a chance at the NBA, I had to take a step back this season, but the season has been great and I want to finish strong and do some damage in the playoffs.
Bayreuth is 150 kilometers away from Wurzburg. Who visited who more until his release you or Ryan Anderson who was your teammate at Arizona?
He was released 3 or 4 months ago. We had planned to hang out, but we never did because of our schedules
How excited is the club for the cup weekend in Ulm? You have to beat Alba Berlin to get to the final. You beat Alba Berlin already once this season. Is this team feeling title in their veins?
We never want to look past our opponent which is Alba Berlin. If we stick to our game plan, then we feel that we can beat anyone in the league. Alba Berlin is a really fast paced team and we will have to be ready for them. We will have to be ready for any punches they throw and be ready throw them back.
It was a packed arena on enemy ground and throughout the game it almost seemed like a boxing match as punches were being traded back and forth in forms of buckets, but it really heated up in the fourth quarter as both guys stepped it up playing for their teams and fans like no other and random Jordan chants being blurted out from the supporters. There wasn´t one Jordan, but two Jordan´s setting the loud arena on fire and it wasn´t Michael Jordan and the United Center that was involved, but Jordan Theodore of the Fraport Skyliners and Jordan Taylor of the Alba Berlin while the Audi Dome was the show place in Munich. It wasn´t the NBA, but the German BBL as both Jordan´s were putting on a show as the arena was electrifying as the German fans were witnessing a real battle that had the perfect cup atmosphere as it couldn´t have been more exciting in crunch-time. Even if Fraport Skyliner guard Jordan Theodore won the point duel of the Jordan´s with 22 points, it wasn´t enough as his opponent Jordan Taylor who dropped only 12 points saved his best for last making the big shot that counted most sealing the 79-76 win as he nailed a tough pull up jumper from the top of the key with 1,1 seconds to play. Theodore would have one more chance, but fell short. The current Euroleague player with Milan rememberd the final seconds. “ “All I needed was one more second on the clock and I believe I would have made it”, stressed Jordan Theodore.
Alba Berlin would capture their eighth title in their storied history and third under legendary coach Sasa Obradovic beating home team FC Bayern Munich the next day while the Fraport Skyliners had a long bus ride home thinking about the loss as they had had extra time to vent with no game for third place. After the Berlin loss a disappointed Philip Scrubb remembered how vital that last shot can be. ““We trusted our defense to get stops. We wanted to buckle down at the end and not foul. They hit the big shot that counted”, said Philip Scrubb. It has almost been two years since that mid February day in Munich and the Fraport Skyliners are back and have a chance to get back to the cup top 4, only one road block stands in their way with shooting star medi Bayreuth. Two years later Scrubb is excited about getting back to the Cup Top 4. “The last cup semi final I played in was a great game, obviously we came up short but it was a good atmosphere so we’re excited at the opportunity to get back there”, added Philip Scrubb.