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Playoffs: trio snatches home court advantage / Morgan takes MVP title / Theis named top defender Daniel Löb

Playoffs: trio snatches home court advantage / Morgan takes MVP title / Theis named top defender

— David Hein

Now that’s a start to the #PlayoffsBaby! Three of the four teams with home court advantage saw that snatched away from them in the first game of the quarter-final series. MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg, Telekom Baskets Bonn and EWE Baskets Oldenburg all surprised observers by winning their Game 1s on the road. Only FC Bayern Munich were able to hold court and win at home.

In this section, we break out our English language skills and inform you about the latest news from the German easyCredit Basketball Bundesliga. If you’re short on time but still want your fill of Germany’s top basketball league then you are in the right place. Every week David Hein (www.heinnews.com) brings you up-to-date in German basketball – the easyCredit BBL short and sweet:

Trice triple trumps Ulm, Ludwigsburg grab home court

ratiopharm ulm will need to win at least one game on the road to even reach the easyCredit BBL semi-finals after eighth seeded MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg knocked off the regular season champions 96-93 in overtime to snatch home court advantage in the best-of-five series. After Ulm’s Braydon Hobbs evened the game in the final second of regulation to send the game to overtime, Rocky Trice nailed a three-pointer with 0.6 seconds left for the final score. Trice knocked down 7 of 8 three-pointers off the bench in scoring a Ludwigsburg team-high 25 points while Jack Cooley had 13 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Ludwigsburg were the second-worst three-point shooting team in the regular season but connected on 14 of 27 three-balls (52 percent) to decide the game. Freshly-crowned MVP Raymar Morgan had 21 points and 10 rebounds in the loss. Game 2 is Wednesday in Ludwigsburg.

Mayo, Horton double-doubles help Bonn steal Game 1 in Bamberg

And just like that, the home court advantage for Brose Bamberg is gone as well as Josh Mayo (25 points, 10 assists) and Kenneth Horton (17 points, 12 rebounds) were too strong in guiding Telekom Baskets Bonn to a 93-92 road win in Game 1 as Bonn stole the opener in sensational fashion. Nico Melli collected 21 points and 9 rebounds but the reigning champs forced just 6 Bonn turnovers. Daniel Theis had a chance to win the final in the closing second but the Bamberg big man could not hold a pass from Fabien Causeur. Game 2 is Wednesday in Bonn.

Bayern hold court in convincing fashion

FC Bayern Munich were the last team to start their quarter-finals playoffs and the third seed was the first to hold home court as Sasa Djordjevic’s men raced past ALBA BERLIN 95-68 in Game 1. Reggie Redding (17 points), Nihad Djedovic (14 points) and Maik Zirbes (13 points) were Bayern’s top three scorers - all coming off the bench - as Munich grabbed the win thanks to a 31-8 second quarter. Berlin turned the ball over 20 times and allowed 12 Bayern offensive rebounds in losing the rebounding battle 39-27. Game 2 will be played Wednesday in Berlin.

Strong Duggins gets Oldenburg home court advantage

The first game of the easyCredit BBL playoffs also saw the first home team go down as medi bayreuth lost 85-83 at home against EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Maxime de Zeeuw tallied 19 points as Oldenburg came south and grabbed home court advantage - also thanks to Vaughn Duggins coming off the bench for 18 points, his best output since returning from the injury which kept him out four months. Duggins scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, including what amounted to being the game-winning basket with 28 seconds to play.

Morgan named easyCredit BBL MVP, given two other awards

ratiopharm ulm was the big winner of the regular season and Raymar Morgan was the big winner of the award season as the Ulm center was named as the easyCredit BBL MVP. Morgan finished first in the MVP voting ahead of teammate Chris Babb and Nicolo Melli of Brose Bamberg. Morgan, Babb and Melli were joined on the All-First Team by Brose Bamberg’s Darius Miller and Chris Kramer of EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Morgan won two more awards as he was named as the league’s Best Offensive Player and the Most Effective International Player as well. The All-Second Team consisted of Josh Mayo of Telekom Baskets Bonn, medi bayreuth’s Trey Lewis, Rickey Paulding of EWE Baskets Oldenburg, Maxi Kleber of FC Bayern Munich and EWE Baskets Oldenburg center Brian Qvale. Kleber won the honor as the Most Effective German Player of the season.

Ulm’s Leibenath wins Coach of the Year a second time

ratiopharm ulm cleaned up at the year-end awards as head coach Thorsten Leibenath was named Coach of the Year, winning the award for a second time after the 2011-12 season. Ulm won their first 27 league games this season to set a new easyCredit BBL record for most wins to start a season. Ulm did not lose until April 8. Raoul Korner of medi bayreuth finished second in the Coach of the Year voting and GIESSEN 46ers’ Denis Wucherer was third. Oh, and Coach Leibenath showed at the All-Star Game that he can defend too.

Bamberg big man Theis named top defender in league

Daniel Theis took home an award as well as the Brose Bamberg big man was named as the Best Defender of the league. Theis, who finished second in the award voting last season, won the vote with 78 points thanks to his 1.2 blocks per game. Last year’s top defender award winner Quantez Robertson of FRAPORT SKYLINERS was second with 52 points while Yorman Polas Bartolo of Telekom Baskets Bonn was third with 46 points.

Berlin guard Akpinar named top German U22 player

ALBA BERLIN’s Ismet Akpinar also was given some hardware as the point guard was named the Best German Youth (U22) Player. Akpinar, who averaged 4.3 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 14.2 minutes for Berlin, received 49 points in the voting while FRAPORT SKYLINERS’ Niklas Kiel was second with 37 points and Andreas Obst of GIESSEN 46ers was third with 27 points.

Ulm lock up Ohlbrecht until 2020

ratiopharm ulm were all over the news as they also made personnel headlines by locking up German center Tim Ohlbrecht until 2020. The 28-year-old Ohlbrecht, who 10 weeks ago became father to Tim Jr., has not played since injuring his knee against FC Bayern Munich at Christmas time. And Ohlbrecht, who rejoined Ulm this past off-season, is not expected to return to the court this season. But his announcement right before the start of the first playoff game that he will stay until 2020 made the fans in the stands go crazy:

Bremerhaven, Hulls agree to another year, GM Rathjen leaving club

Eisbären Bremerhaven also made news this week - with fans being happy and a bit saddened. The good news was that playmaker Jordan Hulls and the club agreed to a one-year extension which will keep the 27-year-old in Bremerhaven. Hulls averaged 13.2 points, 4.1 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals in his first season with Bremerhaven. He also hit 51 percent of his three-pointers. The other news is that long-time general manager Jan Rathjen will be leaving the club at the end of June. The 41-year-old Rathjen has been with  Bremerhaven since 2002 when the club was in the second division. The team won promotion to the top flight in 2005.

MBC win ProA title in record fashion, Oettinger to make easyCredit BBL debut

Mitteldeutcher BC finished a fantastic ProA season with an impressive sweep of the two-leg finals against Oettinger Rockets from Gotha - 87-80 in Gotha and 84-62 at home for the ProA title. MBC won promotion to the easyCredit BBL as they claimed the ProA crown for the third time following 2009 and 2012. MBC also set a ProA record for victories with 35 on the season after finishing the regular season with a 27-3 record and then winning all eight playoff games. Oettinger meanwhile came back from a 2-0 series deficit to NINERS Chemnitz to reach the ProA finals with three straight wins - to qualify for the easyCredit BBL for the first time in the club’s history.

Aufstieg Oettinger Rockets easyCredit BBL from 2. Basketball-Bundesliga on Vimeo.

Player of the Week

The first games of the first round of the playoffs produced a clear-cut Player of the Week in Rocky Trice of MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg, who came up with an efficiency of 32 in scoring 25 points on 9-of-10 shots to go with 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal with 0 turnovers in the win over ratiopharm ulm.

German Top Five of the Week

G: Nihad Djedovic, FC Bayern Munich

Djedovic collected 14 points as well as 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals in Bayern’s opening win over ALBA BERLIN.

G: Ismet Akpinar, ALBA BERLIN

Akpinar celebrated his award as the Best German Youth (U22) Player by leading Berlin in scoring off the bench against FC Bayern Munich with 11 points to go with 1 assist and 1 steal.

G: Robin Amaize, medi bayreuth

Amaize did all he could to help Bayreuth win their opener at home as he picked up 13 points, 4 rebounds and 1 steal off the bench against EWE Baskets Oldenburg.

F: Chad Toppert, MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg

The sharpshooter played a major role in Ludwigsburg knocking off top seeded ratiopharm ulm with four three-pointers in scoring 12 points while also getting 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal.

C: Maik Zirbes, FC Bayern Munich

Zirbes came off the Bayern bench to pick up 13 points, 3 rebounds and 1 steal against ALBA BERLIN.

Young Guns

The draws for the JBBL and NBBL TOP FOURs have taken place with two clubs - YOUNG RASTA DRAGONS and ALBA BERLIN - competing in both competitions on May 27-28 in Frankfurt. Eintracht Frankfurt/FRAPORT SKYLINERS will face Young Tigers Tübingen, and YOUNG RASTA DRAGONS take on ALBA BERLIN in the JBBL (U16) semi-finals. The NBBL (U19) semi-finals have YOUNG RASTA DRAGONS going up against FC Bayern Munich, and IBAM playing ALBA BERLIN.

Germany vs Serbia, Georgia in FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifiers

The German senior national team learned their road to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 as they were drawn into Group G with World Cup 2014 runners-up and Olympic 2016 silver medallists Serbia, Georgia and a to-be-determined qualifier in the first stage. The home-and-away games will take place November 20-28, 2017; February 19-27, 2018; and June 25-July 3, 2018. The top three teams from the four-team groups advance to the next round of the European qualifiers, from which 12 teams will make it to China in 2019.

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