Finals set: Berlin want to end drought, Ludwigsburg win in first go-around
— David Hein
Berlin will look to end a 12-year drought and win their ninth league crown while Ludwigsburg hope to take the title in their first appearance in the Finals. In other news: Brose Bamberg’s coaching carousel continued as they fired Roel Moors after just one season while DeWayne Russell will be leaving HAKRO Merlins Crailsheim. In addition, RASTA Vechta and FRAPORT SKYLINERS have decided against playing internationally next season, pulling out of the Basketball Champions League and EuroCup, respectively. Oh, yeah, and all the Covid-19 tests taken have come back negative as the bubble looks like it worked.
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:
Will Berlin finally win title number 9, or can Ludwigsburg win first crown?
The 2019-20 season has come down to ALBA BERLIN and MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg as the two teams advanced to the two-game Finals of the easyCredit BBL Final Tournament 2020 with a champion to be crowned on Sunday June 28. The scores of the two games - Game 1 coming on Friday June 26 - will be added up and the aggregate winner will hoist the trophy in the Munich Audi Dome. Berlin fans have waited a long time for the club’s ninth league title as the last championship dates back to 2008. ALBA, who are in the Finals for a third straight season, also won the 2019-20 German Cup and could win the cup-league double for the first time since 2002-03.
Ludwigsburg, for their part, are in the Finals for the first time after being eliminated four times previously in the Semi-Finals (1991-92, 1992-93, 2006-07 and 2017-18). It will be the third time that Ludwigsburg have reached a Final after finishing runners-up for the German Cup in 1992 and 2008. These teams have already faced off in a big game in this tournament as Berlin prevailed 97-89 in the final game of Group B to lock up first place. The game was close throughout until Berlin pulled away a bit in the second half of the fourth quarter. Luke Sikma picked up a triple-double of 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for Berlin while Thomas Wimbush poured in 30 points and Nick Weiler-Babb finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds for Ludwigsburg. This battle promises to be a thriller.
Knight leads Ludwigsburg into first Finals appearance
MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg made history at the easyCredit BBL Final Tournament 2020 as they defeated ratiopharm ulm 95-85 in Game 2 of the Semi-Finals to reach the German league Finals for the first time in club history. After a historic 71-71 tie in Game 1, Ulm led the decider by 13 points in the second quarter and were up 69-67 when Ludwigsburg went on a 20-6 run spanning the third and fourth quarters for an 87-75 lead and decide the game. Marcos Knight, who scored seven straight fourth quarter points, shrugged off an early-game ankle injury and carried Ludwigsburg with 26 points, 13 rebounds and 3 assists. He did get help though as Thomas Wimbush tallied 22 points and 12 rebounds, Nick Weiler-Babb scored 20 points and Jaleen Smith chipped in 14 points and 4 assists for Ludwigsburg, who took the Semi-Finals series 165-156 on aggregate. Ludwigsburg finally broke through to the Finals after four times previously losing in the Semi-Finals. It was Ulm’s first loss of the tournament despite Archie Goodwin collecting 19 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists while Thomas Klepeisz had 17 points and Derek Willis ended with 11 points.
Ludwigsburg, Ulm play to historic tie
MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg and ratiopharm ulm made sure there would be plenty of drama in their Semi-Finals series as they played to a 71-71 tie in Game 1, providing the first tie in German playoffs history in 45 years. Ludwigsburg built a 10-point lead in the first quarter and it was close after that until Ulm used a 10-5 surge for a 66-57 advantage. Ludwigsburg teenager Lukas Herzog made two free throws to put Ludwigsburg back ahead 69-68, which was followed by a Willis three-ball and Thomas Wimbush tying the game 71-71. Patrick Heckmann drew an offensive foul on Marcos Knight with 2.6 seconds left and history was made. Knight gathered 24 points with 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks and Nick Weiler-Babb picked up 21 points for Ludwigsburg, who allowed 23 Ulm offensive rebounds and connected on just 4-of-29 three-pointers for 13.8 percent. Ulm, who weren’t much better from long range with only 6-of-27 three-pointers for 22.2 percent, were led by Derek Willis with 19 points and 14 rebounds with Heckmann adding 16 points and 8 rebounds. German basketball history buffs were called out and found out the last tie in German playoffs history was in the second Semi-Finals game in the 1974-75 season with MTV Gießen and MTV Wolfenbüttel finishing the game 78-78.
Berlin finish deal in style to reach Finals
ALBA BERLIN avoided a slip-up and finished off EWE Baskets Oldenburg in style 81-59 in Game 2 to reach the Finals with a 173-122 aggregate victory. Berlin registered a 29-point win in Game 1 and took over Game 2 in the third quarter with an 18-2 start to the second half. Kenneth Ogbe poured in a career-high 16 points while Landry Nnoko had 15 points, Marcus Eriksson scored 12 points and Johannes Thiemann added a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds. Oldenburg, who were hoping to get some revenge after Berlin defeated them in the German Cup Final, were paced by Rickey Paulding with 12 points.
Berlin lay goundwork for Finals with Game 1 blowout
ALBA BERLIN all but booked themselves a ticket for the Finals after blowing past EWE Baskets Oldenburg 92-63 in Game 1 of the Semi-Finals. Berlin used two 9-0 runs in the second quarter to surge ahead 49-33 at halftime and never looked back. Peyton Siva led the way with 19 points while Marcus Eriksson drained 5 three-pointers in scoring 17 points, Martin Hermannsson collected 12 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, Luke Sikma tallied 11 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals and Johannes Thiemann picked up 11 points. Rasid Mahalbasic totalled 23 points and 9 rebounds and Nathan Boothe scored 17 points in the loss for the 2009 champs Oldenburg.
All players, coaches and staff have tested negative for Covid-19
The easyCredit 2020 Final Tournament 2020 is nearing its end and all tests for Covid-19 have come back negative with one round of testing left, which took place on Wednesday June 24 and the results are still to be announced.
Bamberg fire Moors after just one season
There was news around the league outside of the Final Tournament and some big news broke out in Bamberg. Brose Bamberg reacted to a disappointed showing this season and fired head coach Roel Moors after just one campaign with the club. Bamberg GM Leo De Rycke said the club was not happy with the development of the team over the course of the season under the 41-year-old Belgian coach, who last off-season signed a two-year deal with Bamberg. Bamberg said they will name a new head coach within two weeks. When Moors’ successor is announced, he will become the sixth head coach for Bamberg since February 19, 2018 following Andrea Trinchieri, Luca Banchi, Ainars Bagatskis, Federico Perego and Moors. And this upheaval comes after 7.5 years with Dirk Bauermann, 6 years with Chris Fleming and 3.5 with Trinchieri.
Russell exercises opt-out to leave Crailsheim after two seasons
HAKRO Merlins Crailsheim will be missing one of their major leaders from their historic 2019-20 season as DeWayne Russell has told the club he will not be returning for 2020-21 as he will exercise his opt-out option for the final year of his contract. The 26-year-old Russell came to Merlins two years ago from French side SLUC Nancy.
Vechta pull out of Basketball Champions League
RASTA Vechta have withdrawn their intention of playing in the Basketball Champions League next season due to concern over conditions in German basketball with Covid-19. Vechta boss Stefan Niemeyer told the German Press Agency dpa that the club is dependent on tickets sales and committing to the BCL now with unclarity in terms of having fans in the arena for 2020-21 would be “too much of a risk”. There is speculation that EWE Baskets Oldenburg will try to get a spot in the BCL even though they did not express their interest to the league before the deadline.
Frankfurt decides against EuroCup participation
FRAPORT SKYLINERS also reversed their decision to play European basketball next season and decided to pull out of their participation in the 7DAYS EuroCup for 2020-21. Just like RASTA Vechta, Frankfurt said not knowing if they will have fans in their arena for the season left the club unable to plan accordingly to play on the international stage.
Return of Greg Monroe to Bayern questionable
FC Bayern Munich clearly missed the presence of star big man Greg Monroe at the easyCredit BBL Final Tournament 2020, and it appears questionable that he will return to the club for the 2020-21 season. Bayern sports director Daniele Baiesi called Monroe “a luxury that we cannot afford.”
Hartenstein released by Rockets
German national team big man Isaiah Hartenstein was released by the Houston Rockets, who decided to add wing David Nwaba for their playoff run. The 22-year-old Hartenstein has played 51 NBA games for the Rockets.
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