From the land of Dirk – Nowitzki and Bauermann, that is – David Hein reports on a few happenings in Germany’s top division of basketball. Read on to find out all about Fraport Skyliners reminding Brose Baskets of that losing feeling; EWE Baskets Oldenburg’s dismissal of former championship-winning coach Predrag Krunic; and Bayern Munich blasting past road-weary Artland Dragons, who cling to the no. 4 spot in the standings.
Mark it up as the proverbial good loss later in the season, but two-time reigning German Beko BBL champions Brose Baskets Bamberg were handed their third L of the season with Fraport Skyliners winning 76-68 at home to snap the league leaders’ 15-game winning streak.
Bamberg fell 15 points behind in Frankfurt before eventually finding a bit of rhythm and taking a one-point lead at the half. But the Skyliners held Bamberg to just seven points in the third quarter and there was an important moment midway through the period as Brose’s talented 20-year-old center was charged with an unsportsmanlike foul after Frankfurt had scored. After two free throws for Phillipp Neumann’s error, Jacob Burtschi nailed a three-pointer to finish what in essence was a seven-point possession for a 50-40 Skyliners lead.
With Bamberg within 64-59 with less than two minutes to play, Joe Herber made the play of the game, hitting a long three-pointer just before the 24-second shot clock expired over the outstretched arm of Marcus Slaughter for an eight point lead. On Brose’s ensuing possession, Frankfurt picked up a steal and Quantez Robertson converted a breakaway basket for a 10-point lead with about 90 seconds left.
Bamberg coach Chris Fleming was not pleased with his team’s overall showing, including 22 turnovers.
“If one or two players are not ready to play then it’s one thing. But if the complete team is not at the right level then it’s up to the coach to consider how he prepared the team,” Fleming said after the loss, which dropped Bamberg’s record to 22-3 – still two games (as well as holding the head-to-head tiebreaker) ahead of second-place Ratiopharm Ulm.
“You don’t lose a lot of games when you shoot 54 percent from the field. But when you are so careless with the ball then you deserve to lose.”
Frankfurt coach Muli Katzurin is happy that his team has finally found an identity – that of a tough defensive unit.
“I’m happy that we saw a team. We got a lot of help from a lot of players today. And that is very happy for me because that’s something we have been trying to do a long time – to build a team not dependent on one guy,” said Katzurin afterward.
“We’ve got to get some credit for the 22 turnovers. That doesn’t happen a lot against a very organized team like Bamberg.”
The Skyliners opened the season 2-8 but have now won three straight games – including a victory two weeks earlier against Bayern Munich. Much of that comes from the Frankfurt’s defensive effort, especially on the pick-and-roll.
And the Frankfurt fan base is slowly thinking about the playoffs. Katzurin’s team is now 12-13 and just one game away from the playoff spots. Besides games at Alba Berlin, at Artland Dragons and at home against Ratiopharm Ulm, the Skyliners also have contests against last-placed BG Göttingen, in Oldenburg, against Phoenix Hagen, in Trier, against Tübingen and in Bonn. Still the coach eased expectations.
“Beating Bamberg was really a big win for us. But it is only one game. We have to continue to develop,” said Katzurin.
There will definitely be a new feeling in Oldenburg after head coach Predrag Krunic was fired when EWE Baskets Oldenburg lost five of their last seven games and dropped out of the playoff spots.
Krunic arrived in northern Germany in 2007 and guided the team to the semifinals in his first season and to the club’s only championship in 2009 – but losing in the quarterfinals the past two seasons. But his success was not enough for Krunic to keep his job as Oldenburg general manager Hermann Schüller sacked the 44-year-old Bosnian.
“Predrag Krunic did some very good work here, raising the club to a new level and giving the Oldenburg basketball fans an unforgettable success in 2009,” said Schüller, who wanted to “shake up” the team with the move.
“The danger was there that dissatisfaction [and] frustration […] could spread throughout the team. And we had to act against that now. The team will receive all the support to deal with the new situation. The season is not lost.”
Assistant coach Ralph Held took over as head coach and won his first game against Eisbären Bremerhaven.
Artland Dragons have now lost three straight games in the Bundesliga after getting walloped at Bayern Munich, 97-70, with just 18 points in the second half. But Artland remain the only German team represented internationally – as they face Beşiktaş in the quarterfinal playoffs of the FIBA EuroChallenge competition.
And the wear and tear of travelling more than two hours to a local airport for European action and then taking busses around Germany as well is starting to beat down Stefan Koch’s Dragons. Artland are two losses behind Alba Berlin for fourth place but only one win better than fifth placed s.Oliver Baskets; the Dragons own the tiebreaker over the Würzburg team, however.
For even more – everything, really – on the week in Bundesliga Basketball, here’s Hein’s latest piece from the league’s official site.
Germany-based David Hein is often (justifiably, we think) dubbed by BiE as “the hardest-working man in European sportswriting.” Aside from contributing to BallinEurope, FIBA’s official website and the Bundesliga Basketball League official website, he also writes for numerous German- and English-language outlets on sports from soccer and basketball on down. Check out far-ranging samples of his work at heinnews.com.