In his first two professional season´s Chris Babb could pf probably mapped out the best fast food stops on the two hour drive from Portland to Boston via Waltham, the training facility of the Boston Celtics as he was a consistent member of D-league team the Maine Red Claws, but also had his stints with the NBA club as he played a total of 14 games for the Boston Celtics and 80 games for Maine. Despite getting his experience in the big show, learning as a rookie from ex ratiopharm Ulm coach Mike Taylor as well as getting important pointers last season from Brad Stevens about always being ready and being that perfect practice player as well as getting those insightful pieces of information from Jeff Green and Rajon Rondo, his NBA dream was put on hold as he came to Europe to demonstrate his game in Germany for ratiopharm Ulm. He did remember how vital these two NBA players were for his early development phase as a player. “I had a great experience with both guys. In my first NBA minutes, Rondo made sure to run the first plays for me so I could get up some shots and get confidence. Green took me under his wing from the start. We played the same position and I could always go to him for advice. It was important for me to be able to watch him play and pick up the little things. It was just a huge experience for me to be able to watch him play”, stressed Chris Babb. Sometimes guys that come from the NBA to Europe stay forever here and never return or there are those like a PJ Tucker in the past that return. If one would have to give a prediction about the future of Chris Babb, one could just say somewhere in between. Babb came over in November 2014 and since then has showed why he played in the NBA and why there is no reason why he can´t return. Last season ratiopharm Ulm was stinking up BBL arena´s in the first weeks as they were giving underachieving a totally new name, but then came the arrival of Chris Babb who turned that whole season around as the team reacted and won 13 of the next 14 games and continued to impress all season rolling into the playoffs and upsetting Oldenburg and Frankfurt to reaching the final where they were swept by the Brose Baskets Bamberg. Even having played in the NBA, there were no signs of ego form his side, but moreover respect and manners how to handle himself concerning the success of Ulm. “I think that after we won our first few games, it was an overall confidence thing that helped the team in the winning streak. Guys started to fall into their roles and we learned what it took to win games”, warned Chris Babb. Last season he played 32 games averaging 10.3ppg, 4.0rpg, 3.2apg, FGP: 41.1%, 3PT: 36.9%, FT: 82.7%,Babb didn´t get cocky and fall in to that mindscape that I was the reason why we won, and resigned with the team to take his game and ratiopharm Ulm to possibly the next step this season. Even if ratiopharm Ulm haven´t found their defensive principles yet as they have allowed an average of 89 points in the first three games, they are still 4-0 and have given Phoenix Hagen some competition in regards to being able to win shoot outs on a regular basis as their 99 points per game has proven that. Babb has been superb, up to now as he is averaging 19,8ppg, 5,3rpg, 2,5apg and 1,0spg while shooting a spectacular 56,0% from outside. Babb seems to be on a mission this season and will try to go a step further from last season and help bring a title to Ulm. At the moment his mind is in Ulm, but there is most likely something else in his heart. “I think that there is a possibility to go back and try the NBA route. My goal is obviously always to try to get back to the NBA, but I won´t force it. If the opportunity presents itself, I will definitely consider it. I could see myself making a career in Europe, but I am not counting out the NBA yet”, warned Chris Babb. Even if he remains cool about the NBA, one is sure that he has the NBA letters somewhere next to BBL and ratiopharm Ulm in his mind vault.
Usually the last game on a tournament weekend means final time baby where the big time players write history and tragic hero´s can be born as well. However at the Gezeiten Haus Cup in Rhondorf that had seen Northeastern(NCAA) and the Iranian national team and Dirk Bauermann withdraw, the 2016 Basketball Aid international tour had to scramble and find replacements and did with Pro B team Bochum that played on Saturday while the Hebeisen White Wings Hanau fought against top BBL team ratiopharm Ulm in the second game on Sunday that may have been meaningless in the final title game atmosphere and was just another routine test game, but for some players, this game had other meanings when bringing teammates rookie Brian Sullivan and Till Joscha Joenke into the picture. For both players this was another game, but deep down it was another test that had different meanings for both. For Sullivan, he isn´t only another one of thousands that hail from the basketball talented state of Ohio, but it was a game where he could really measure himself against top rate guards and ratiopharm Ulm boasted a handful of them. Sullivan had faced top guards game in and game out in the tough Atlantic 10 conference at Davidson and now he had the chance to battle top German point guard Per Guenther, ex Boston Celtic Chris Babb and Braydon Hobbs who like Sullivan had to prove himself in the Pro A two seasons ago with Nurnberg. Sullivan as always was in attack mode on every possession and nailed home two three pointers early finishing with eight points, but overall had his difficulty with the swarm of annoying ratiopharm Ulm guards as the Hebeisen White Wings were destroyed by ratiopharm Ulm 82-46. “It was a good challenge and a good experience going against their guards. I could see how a Chris Babb reads ball screens and how he defended me. I also learned that their guards don´t tend to force anything and let the game come to them. The guards in Germany have a good feel for the game while in the States the guards tend to focus on getting buckets”, stressed ex Davidson(NCAA) guard Brian Sullivan. Joenke on the other hand wanted to show his ex team ratiopharm Ulm where he played from 2012-2014 playing 38 BBL games and 10 Eurocup games that he had developed further in the last two years with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen and last season with the Hebeisen White Wings. After the rout, Joenke was slithering his way back to the bus and had Ulm and his past less on his mind, but rather was content about playing against top competition. “It is always good to see people from the past. I was roommates with Per Guenther for two years and still have a good relationship with Thorsten Leibenath. This was a difficult game, because we had played three games in four days. My role is to play the one and when you lose by 36 points, it doesn´t show that we did a good job. For us it was important to play against top level competition, because we can see where we made mistakes and how we should correct our mistakes”, warned ex Bayer Giants Leverkusen guard Till Joscha Joenke. Both Sullivan and Joenke want to play a successful season with Hanau and help lead the club to the playoffs while one could see himself playing in the BBL for the first time in the future while the other has claimed that he wants to return back one day as well.
It may only be pre-season, but unforgettable and sour playoff memories can linger on for any player even if it is almost three months ago when the Fraport Skyliners were rudely booted out of the semi-finals by ratiopharm Ulm like a hurricane does any small Florida town that had the misfortune of being hit. ratiopharm Ulm identity figure and national player per Guenther and Konstantin Klein might separate only one cm and three kilo´s to the advantage of the Berlin native Klein, but can that one Fiba Europe Cup title erase some of the uncomfortable memories of the 3-1 playoff series loss for the Telekom Baskets Bonn guard? Guenther let his quickness and sharp shooting speak for him when it counted most in game one and game four. In game one Guenther hit two back breaking trey´s in OT and shooting 6/7 from the parking lot ending with 19 points while in game four he had the hot hand again leading the team to the final with 18 points and four three´s. For Klein, the series was one to forget as he played only 48 minutes in the four game series while contributing a bit with 8 points in 23 minutes in the game three 85-54 win in Frankfurt. After a four year stay with the Fraport Skyliners where he developed nicely, but had injury problems and consistency issues was in the shadow of the twin towers Johannes Voigtmann and Danilo Barthel now has moved on to the Telekom Baskets Bonn to start a new chapter in his basketball career. Klein is looking to play a significant role in the guard rotation of head coach Silvano Poropat and had the chance to get some pre-season revenge on Guenther again as both battled in a highly anticipated game during the Basketball Aid International tour that had set up shop at the 2016 Gezeiten haus cup in Rhondorf. Klein got revenge on Guenther for the playoff loss helping the Telekom Baskets Bonn escape a late comeback attempt by ratiopharm Ulm to win 77-74. The German isn´t only aggressive on the floor, but also when it comes to answering questions about his ex club Frankfurt or new horizons with Bonn, he is very edgy and one notices that he has a gigantic chip on his shoulder and wants to prove something this season with Bonn. “It was nice to win against Ulm. I still think about the series loss to Ulm with Frankfurt and probably will still remember it when I am 80, but it is a new season and life goes on. I am as motivated as I was the last seasons with Frankfurt and feel I always have to prove something. I am happy to be in Bonn. It is a good situation and I am looking forward to having a good season”, warned Konstantin Klein.
Mike Taylor is in his 16th season as a professional coach and currently head coach of the Polish national team and preparing the team for the Euro 2017 qualifying round. He is the son of Dick Taylor who was an NCAA coach and assistant with the New York Knicks. Mike Taylor started his coaching career in 2001 with Chemnitz (Germany-2.Bundesliga). In 2002-2003, he got valuable experience in the UK with the Essex Leopards London (United Kingdom). In 2003, he started to coach for ratiopharm Ulm leading them into the Beko BBL in 2006 and Beko BBL playoffs in 2009 before leaving in 2011. He had a record of 101-15 in four years of second Bundesliga basketball. He also has coached Kansas Cagerz (USBL) in the summer time as well as being an assistant for the Czech national team. In 2011 he made the jump back to the states and was an assistant for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers(D-League). He then was head coach of the Boston Celtics D League team Maine Red Claws and they reached the playoffs for the first time in team history. He spoke to German Hoops before Poland played at the Super Cup in Ulm, Germany.
Thanks Mike for talking to German Hoops again. Before we get to our combined love basketball, I want to ask you what is more difficult changing a diaper for you or for opposing big men to deny a John Bryant the ball in the post?
Both are challenging in their own way. Fortunately John Bryant was always on my team so I have always drawn up plays for him. My wife Alice would tell you that I am much better at changing defenses than changing diapers but that is a time when there is no problem doing the dirty work.
If anyone wants to doubt that the Brose Baskets Bamberg aren´t a genuine German basketball dynasty that was briefly derailed by FC Bayern Munich in 2014 obviously have been clouded by the seemingly never ending healthy arrogance of Germany´s most famous club or just been not paying good attention to the Beko BBL season by season. Facts don´t lie as the Brose Baskets Bamberg have won five of the last six Beko BBl titles and if nothing seriously goes wrong in the next two weeks where key members of the team are inflicted with massive food poisoning or ratiopharm Ulm all of a sudden acquire super basketball powers that not even Lebron, Curry or Durant possess then the Bavarian city that likes to call itself Freak City will win their sixth league title in seven years and second in a row. The team has always been stacked with overwhelming talent and an undeniable strong team basketball and chemistry that just grew over the years. That also has been the case last season and this season as the team has had the best overall talent and deepest bench in the league and one Brad Wanamaker who has led the club to success with his prosperous playmaking and leadership qualities that are one of a kind in the Beko BBL. After a stellar career at Pittsburgh(NCAA), he turned professional and played his first two seasons in Italy, D-league and France before making that first step in the 2013-2014 season with Giorgio Tesi Group Pistoia (Italy-Lega Due). Since 2014, he has been in Germany in the Beko BBL and belongs to the absolute superstars of the league. Ex Alba Berlin head coach Sasa Obradovic even called him one of the three best players that ever played in the Beko BBL. The two time Beko BBL MVP is on the verge of leading Bamberg to a second consecutive league title and the question is can he make the next step to the NBA this summer? Current Portland Trailblazer Brian Roberts who has played 279 NBA games won three league titles and three cups from 2009-2012 with Bamberg before making the jump to the NBA and didn´t have as much of an impact on his team as Wanamaker does. If Wanamaker doesn´t make the jump to the NBA, he definitely should be kept in Bamberg at any expense, because the name Wanamaker is like a synonym for dynasty, but head coach Andrea Trincheri knows that. Most important now is to be focused and win the title even if everybody really is thinking sweep and by just how many points Bamberg will beat ratiopharm Ulm game by game?
After the seemingly alarming 85-54 annihilation of ratiopharm Ulm, the Fraport Skyliners didn´t have their usual big celebration routine when they all lie on the floor and perform the Humba dance to the delight of the fans. Instead the players were more reserved and in business like mode which wasn´t surprising since the club still had their backs to the wall and still on a steep climb to get over the annoying hump that ratiopharm Ulm had inflicted upon them. Jordan Theodore had a different mimic than usual as he wasn´t so much the confident tell all story teller about the game, but more reflective and thankful that his season was prolonged and just looking forward one game at a time while his teammate Mike Morrison had his usual post game demeanor of gliding through the arena corridors in a graceful, but quiet manner having unending thoughts about the game and just looking forward to the next challenge in Ulm. In his thoughts, Morrison might also have had NBA player Mareese Speights who has some similarities with the Frankfurt big man in that both come from the beautiful coastal city of St Petersburg in Florida, play the center position, have been at some point in their careers journey men in the NBA and Europe, but as of late found a second home in Oakland and Frankfurt as Speights is playing his third season with the Warriors and Morrison his second with the Fraport Skyliners. The other crucial similarity that both possess at the moment is that they have helped contribute to that 9 lives feeling that both the Golden State Warriors and Fraport Skyliners have had as both have been in a hole with their respective teams fighting to survive in their series. In the last days, it has been Golden State that have set the tone in the comeback trail with the Fraport Skyliners following their lead winning slowly digging themselves out of desperation. With Golden State down 3-1 in games, they showed a strong effort at home winning 120-111 as Curry and Thompson combined for 58 points, but also got an all-around solid effort from Speights with 14 points in nine minutes. The Fraport Skyliners followed this masterful performance with their own fabulous performance with the slaughter against ratiopharm Ulm where they got a total team effort and Mike Morrison flourished with 11 points in 14 minutes and like Speights was very efficient and just dominated the paint as Ulm had no way of keeping him in check. Golden State then followed the Frankfurt lead 10 hours later with a heroic and courageous win on the road coming back from 15 down and winning 108-101 as Klay Thompson exploded with 41 points and Steph Curry quietly added 31 points to deadlock the series at 3-3. In order to keep this perfect fairytale alive, the Fraport Skyliners now have to follow in the Warriors lead and on Tuesday to even the series at 2-2. “We hang out in the summer and workout together and play together also. Mareese Speights is someone who I definitely look up to. His tweet about how the series was far from over was inspiring and helped me keep my mind in the right place”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Mike Morrison. Cats might be jumping from trees and dodging cars on more of a regular basis than Frankfurt and Golden State are staying alive on the court, but they do it daily while the two basketball clubs only have to do it three more times in their respective series and then hope with less backs to the wall in the next series, but more command and leverage against their next opponent. “I think it is possible that both the Warriors and the Skylines can come back and win their series. Both teams have won their last games and have good momentum and confidence going into the next game. If they can use this to their advantage and come out and take care of their business everything will be ok”, stressed Saarlouis guard Rickey Easterling.
If someone had had the audacity to have whispered in the ear of Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert a few hours prior to game one stating that this wasn´t a late April Fools day joke that eight days later, Frankfurt would be plastered with their backs to the wall down 2-0, he probably would have given a soft response in his low Canadian voice and muttered “I sure hope that doesn´t happen”, but in reality everyone´s thinking in basketball Frankfurt that the Fraport Skyliners would quickly dispose of ratiopharm Ulm and march into the final were about as wrong as anyone that suggested that the Golden State Warriors would get by the Oklahoma Thunder with ease. In the first two games the Fraport Skyliners played under their capabilities losing that defensive force and edge that had carried them the whole season as they were 21 points over their average giving up 86 points per game instead of 65. They also were unable to match the physicality and cleverness of their opponent as they were only able to get to the free throw line 42 times as Ulm did 78 times. The other big factor for the two loses were their inability to execute in OT as Per Guenther buried them in OT in game one and in game two, Frankfurt let ratiopharm Ulm escape out on a 10-0 run in the last two minutes to prevail and lead 2-0. Having do or die games are never easy, but this season, the 2004 Beko BBL champion has been able to master these type of scenarios rather well as they had a 4-1 record going into game three at home. Frankfurt beat the EWE Baskets Oldenburg to get into the Beko BBL cup Top 4, but lost to Alba Berlin in the cup competition, but disposed of Maccabi Rishon to reach the Fiba Europe Cup Final 4 and there won do or die games against Enisey and Varese. The Fraport Skyliners wanted to keep their illustrious season alive and force a game 4 in Ulm and lived to see another day in basketball terms as they found back to their creative and inspiring Skyliner basketball destroying ratiopharm Ulm 85-54. After the win, Fraport Skyliner guard Jordan Theodore had a different mimic than usual as he wasn´t so much the confident tell all story teller about the game, but more reflective and thankful that his season was prolonged as he discussed why Frankfurt was able to continue. “We had two rough games against ratiopharm Ulm, but got back on track again. The difference was that we didn´t play Skyliner basketball in the first two games, but did in game three where we executed on offense and scored off our defense and played good defense. I have to credit out bigs for doing a good job on their bigs. We understood that it was a do or die game and just played great defense and kept them out of their comfort zone”, stressed ex Seton Hall point guard Jordan Theodore. Ratiopharm played an inspired game for 15 minutes, but then as if dark storm clubs had come, were unable to execute any longer at a consistent rate on offense and just couldn´t get stops as the Frankfurt offensive arsenal just kept scoring and scoring at a much more consistent rate as in the first two games and more at ease. “Frankfurt wanted it more than we did. They were very aggressive on offense and defense. They did a good job winning the matchup problems and got Raymar Morgan into early foul trouble. You have to give respect to Frankfurt as they played with heart and had to win at home”, stressed ratiopharm Ulm guard Carlon Brown.