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Home/Newscenter/2023-24 easyCredit BBL Preview: Ulm now the hunted / Bayern: Let the Pablo Laso era begin / Make-over in Berlin and Bonn

Weekly News2023-24 easyCredit BBL Preview: Ulm now the hunted / Bayern: Let the Pablo Laso era begin / Make-over in Berlin and Bonn

19. September 2023
It is still hard to believe but Germany won the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 - Germany are world champions! The country is still celebrating the historic achievement and we congratulate Gordie Herbert and his team. But the festivities cannot go on forever and the 2023-24 easyCredit BBL season is almost upon us. Here is the preview of the season - looking at each team from reigning champion ratiopharm ulm to promoted sides RASTA Vechta and Tigers Tübingen. This week does see the first round of the German Cup, which includes ProA teams for the first time in 14 years.

It is still hard to believe but Germany won the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 - Germany are world champions! The country is still celebrating the historic achievement and we congratulate Gordie Herbert and his team. But the festivities cannot go on forever and the 2023-24 easyCredit BBL season is almost upon us. Here is the preview of the season - looking at each team from reigning champion ratiopharm ulm to promoted sides RASTA Vechta and Tigers Tübingen. This week does see the first round of the German Cup, which includes ProA teams for the first time in 14 years. 

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:

Yes we can! Germany are world champions for the first time!

Germany have new sports heroes as Gordie Herbert and his team captured the title at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 - the first time the country can call themselves world champions of basketball. Dennis Schröder and co. went undefeated, narrowly defeating Latvia in the Quarter-Finals before out-lasting United States in the Semi-Finals and then getting the best of Serbia in the Final. It was the fifth medal for Germany at a major tournament following gold at the FIBA EuroBasket 1993, bronze at the 2002 World Cup, silver at EuroBasket 2005 and bronze at the EuroBasket 2022. Schröder was named MVP and Germany next can dream about a medal at the 2024 Olympics. 

German Cup tips off September 22 with ProA teams again

The easyCredit BBL is still a week from tipping off but the German Cup starts on Friday September 22 with three days of games featuring 16 teams, six of them from the second division ProA. This will be the first time in 14 years that ProA clubs are participating in the competition. The eight winners will join the top 8 teams from last season in the top flight in the Round of 16, to be played on October 14-15. The Quarter-Finals will follow on December 9-10 with the German Cup TOP FOUR scheduled for February 17-18 when we will see who follows 2023 cup champs FC Bayern Munich.

Dyn broadcasting games live and on demand

New this season on the media side is Dyn Media taking over as broadcaster for the easyCredit BBL and German Cup games - as well as Basketball Champions League contests. Click here for all necessary information about Dyn - which secured the rights to show German games for six seasons. Some games will be broadcast live on BILD TV in Germany as well as streamed on SPORTBILD.de and BILD.de. And Dyn will have some vodcasts on Youtube, in english for example with former BBL player Sergio Kerusch as host:

Hunter now the hunted: What does Ulm do for an encore? 

ratiopharm ulm go from the hunter to the hunted as reigning champions - Ulm fans must love the sound of that. Gone are the brilliant Brazilian duo Yago dos Santos and Bruno Caboclo and while another Brazilian has arrived - Georginho - this will be a different team for second-year head coach Anton Gavel. The 20-year-old Juan Nunez must show he is ready to lead the show and Dakota Mathias, LJ Figueroa and Trevion Williams will all be needed to shine - the latter two debuting in Europe.

Re-start in magenta: Bonn forced to new beginning after mass exodus 

Telekom Basket Bonn fans might need some time getting used to the new faces for their team after head coach Tuomas Iisalo and six of his players left town for Paris. Roel Moors is the new head coach, and the team does have some strong talent. Brian Hobbs will be the main question mark if he can prove his MVP status from the Belgian-Netherlands league last season. Bonn have a strong German front court duo in Christian Sengfelder and Till Pape. Moors coached Harald Frey at BG Göttingen and Sam Griesel will also be an important player for Bonn.

Let the Pablo Laso era begin at Bayern

FC Bayern Munich brought in coaching legend Pablo Laso and the club sent a clear message to the rest of the league: they are out to end their drought of no league crown since 2019. The 2023 German Cup champions Bayern kept a good core of the team from last season - especially the Germans with Isaac Bonga, Andi Obst, Niels Giffey, Nick Weiler-Babb and Elias Harris and brought back Nelson Weidemann from loan. Bayern, who still also have Vladimir Lucic and Freddie Gillespie, added Leandro Bolmaro, Carsen Edwards, Sylvain Francisco and former NBA champion Serge Ibaka and saw the return of Devin Booker. Bayern are hungry for silverware and Laso is someone who can deliver.

What can Coach King do in year two in Ludwigsburg?

MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg come into the season having made another overhaul of the roster and head coach Josh King will need to form a strong unit. Desure Buie, Deion Hammond and Jayvon Graves arrive for the backcourt and Jaren Lewis came to the team from HAKRO Merlins Crailsheim. Yorman Polas Bartolo is still there and going strong at 38 while Jacob Patrick stayed with the team and should take a step up in responsibility as he turns 20 in November. 

ALBA might need time to gel after make-over

ALBA BERLIN have been one of the top title favorites for many years now, but the team went through a make-over and now face questions about how strong they will be. Losing six important players (Luke Sikma, Maodo Lo, Jaleen Smith, Tamir Blatt, Ben Lammers and Yovel Zoosman), head coach Israel Gonzalez still has a solid core of Johannes Thiemann, Louis Olinde, Christ Koumadje and Gabriele Procida. And of course the club brought in strong players, including former NBA player Sterling Brown as well as former EuroLeague guard Matt Thomas, Italian top talent Matteo Spagnolo as well as Ziga Samar coming back from loan at Veolia Towers Hamburg and Justin Bean. How long will it take for Berlin to gel is one question.

What does year two of Pedro Calles hold for Oldenburg

EWE Baskets Oldenburg had high hopes when Pedro Calles was hired as head coach before last season. Following a first round departure in the playoffs and losing in the German Cup Final, the northern Germans are hungry for some success in year two with the Spanish playcaller. DeWayne Russell is back as the team motor while he will team up with new backcourt additions Kyle Foster and Charles Manning and German forward Lukas Wank. Defensive stopper Max DiLeo and versatile Alen Pjanic are both retuning while Deane Williams will provide some knowledge of winning, helping Telekom Baskets Bonn win the Basketball Champions League last season. But perhaps the biggest key is Ebuka Izundu, one of Oldenburg’s few centers. 

Newcomers Burns, Gibson key to new-look Göttingen 

BG Göttingen fans will also need some time to get used to the many new faces on their team, including seeing Olivier Foucart jump from assistant coach to head coach. Göttingen went through a make-over after making the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. Mathis Mönninghoff and Harper Kamp are the only two significant holdovers for the Belgian playcaller, who will rely on a backcourt of Deondre Burns and Umoja Gibson with 20-year-old Fedor Zugic hoping to get a chance to shine after multiple years at ratiopharm ulm. Bodie Hume won the Swedish league last season with Boras Baskets while Grant Anticevich and Karlis Silins will be needed to step up as they come to a stronger league.

Chemnitz hope team can follow Lansdowne’s lead

NINERS Chemnitz narrowly missed the playoffs last season after reaching the post-season in their debut in 2021-22. Head coach Rodrigo Pastore made some changes but the additions could lead them back into the top eight. One of the biggest newcomers is DeAndre Lansdowne, a 34-year-old veteran who knows the easyCredit BBL from playing in Braunschweig, Hamburg and Herten and signed a two-year deal. The team has a solid German core in the post with captain Jonas Richter, who decided to stay in Chemnitz, and Kevin Yebo, while Dominik Lockhart is also back. Kaza Kajami-Keane and Wesley van Beck will be key help to Lansdowne in the backcourt and Jeffery Garrett helps the team’s defense on the wing.

Rostock rely on continuity in second season 

ROSTOCK SEAWOLVES captured the imagination of the league in their debut season in the easyCredit BBL, even staying in the playoffs race until the end. And the club relied on continuity for season two. Shooting guard Tyler Nelson and Derrick Alston return from the starting lineup as well as Chris Carter, Sid-Marlon Theis, Till Gloger and Jordan Roland. Management added scoring playmaker Mike Smith while signing strong German scoring ace Robin Amaize as well as Chevez Goodwin and Eric Lockett. Rostock were a bit of a surprise last season but every team will be ready for the team this season. 

Bamberg begin post-Brose era with lower payroll, more question marks 

Bamberg Baskets go into 2023-24 without their long-time name sponsor Brose which also means a lower budget than in many, many years that has limited their signing capacity and leaves a major question mark. Can head coach Oren Amiel bring the club back to the playoffs after missing the post-season for the first time in 22 years last season. The only two main returnees are Patrick Heckmann and Kevin Wohlrath while Bamberg native Karsten Tadda is back and the team has added German big man Filip Stanic. Otherwise, Bamberg has signed players fresh out of U.S. college - Trey Woodbury and Adrian Nelson - or from lower level teams or leagues - Malik Johnson from Switzerland and Zach Copeland from Italy’s second division. Two other key players will be Justin Gray and big man EJ Onu.

Würzburg add players with German league experience 

Würzburg Baskets didn’t look too far when they went scouting for new players for this season as they added five players who competed for other teams in the easyCredit BBL last season. Otis Livingstone will be one of the leaders for Sasa Filipovski’s team after playing with Crailsheim and Bayreuth last year. Fellow guard Isaiah Washington played with Frankfurt, Javon Bess with Göttingen, Owen Klassen at Oldenburg and Maxi Ugrai at Heidelberg. The team also kept Germans Felix Hoffmann, Collin Welp and Julius Böhmer as well as bringing in Zach SelJaas from ProA side Tübingen and Darius Perry from Hungary. Würzburg will be hopeful to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2015-16.

Heidelberg welcome back Zipser to established core

MLP Academics Heidelberg go into the season with a major core of the team back while also welcoming Heidelberg native Paul Zipser back to the team. The former NBA player arrives from FC Bayern Munich hoping to leave his mark back home. Head coach Joonas Iisalo can count on three returnees who scored in double figures last season - Elias Lasisi, Tim Coleman and Vincent Kesteloot - as well as Akeem Vargas, Bennet Hundt and Niklas Würzner. Iisalo brought in guard Mike McGuirl, who was the MVP of the Danish league last season; Jeffrey Carroll from Finland, Isaiah Whaley from Mexico and German big man Marcel Kessen from Hagen. The team’s first goal is to avoid relegation and hopefully be in the race for the playoffs late in the season.

Crailsheim Bombers? Markovic brings in shooters from lower level teams 

Don’t be surprised if HAKRO Merlins Crailsheim are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league this season. In addition to keeping German marksmen Moe Stuckey and Fabian Bleck, head coach Nikola Markovic brought in snipers from lower level leagues. Brevin Pritzl hit 41 percent as a major scorer last season in Belgium; Keandre Cook shot 40 percent and 48 percent for his two teams; and James Murray-Boyles drained 44 percent from long range in Sweden. Marques Townes was not as on-target (33 percent in Hungary) but he scored and set up for others. With all the shooting, center Galin Smith could be a major key as a force inside. And Canadian Prince Oduro was a late addition after German center Bogdan Radosavljevic was forced to end his career due to arthritis in his shoulder. 

Braunschweig move slightly away from reliance on Germans

Basketball Löwen Braunschweig will hope to fight more for the playoffs than against relegation as they rely slightly less on Germans this season. That also comes because they lost two of the top German scorers in the league in David Krämer and Robin Amaize. Head coach Jesus Ramirez still has the Tischler twins Brandon and Nicholas as well as Sananda Fru while Ferdinand Zylka returns to Germany after a season in Belgium. Braunschweig signed American guards Ahmaad Rorie and TJ Crockett and also added Martin Peterka to the returning low post presence Jilson Bango. But the team also remained an attractive destination for young talent as they signed former Real Madrid prospect Amar Sylla and 19-year-old Swedish guard Nije Barra.

Hamburg look to forget last season 

Veolia Towers Hamburg would like nothing more than forget last season and chalk it up to a year of transition after seeing head coach Pedro Calles leave for Oldenburg and then firing Raoul Korner. His replacement Benka Barloschky is still at the helm and the team has a very different look - especially in the backcourt. Terrell Gomez and Mark Hughes are expected to start with Aljami Durham serving as backup playmaker while additions William Christmas and VJ King handle the small forward spot. Returning from last season are Lukas Meisner, Seth Hinrichs and Jonas Wohlfarth-Bottermann, the latter who will likely serve as backup to new arrival, Polish center Alexander Dziewa. Hamburg narrowly avoided relegation last season after reaching the playoffs both seasons under Calles. The post-season again will be the goal heading into the season.

SYNTAINICS MBC aim to avoid relegation again

SYNTAINICS MBC find themselves in their seventh straight season in the easyCredit BBL - their longest streak in team history - and the club aims to make it eight in a row. The Wolfpack re-did their backcourt with Courtney Ramey and Johnathan Stove as well as Diante Baldwin, who is on a contract until October. The team also brought in German Tim Martinez from Hanau while Charles Callison is still there. Kostja Mushidi and Stephon Jelks are also back from last season and the team added Norwegian defensive ace Chris-Edou Ndow. Another strong acquisition is Stefan Bircevic, who joins the German low post duo of Martin Breunig and John Bryant.  

Vechta back to stay after two years in ProA 

RASTA Vechta spent the last two seasons in the ProA and now the team is back in the easyCredit BBL and they hope for a while. Head coach Ty Harrelson led the team to the ProA title last season and Vechta strengthened their roster. Guards Tommy Kuhse and Spencer Reaves join the team - both having played in the Bundesliga last season - and join returnees Ryan Schwieger and Joel Aminu. Xeyrius Williams and Aririguzoh Rich will likely round out the staring lineup with returnee Chip Flanigan also there to help as well as Nat Diallo. Luc van Slooten comes back to the club after playing the last two years in Braunschweig and is still only 21 years old. The team also includes other interesting prospects including 18 year olds Johann Grünloh and Joshua Bonga - Isaac Bonga’s younger brother - as well as 17-year-old Jack Kayil, who arrives from ALBA BERLIN and was the NBBL Rookie of the Year last season.

Tübingen return after five years in ProA with much of same team

Tigers Tübingen are back in the easyCredit BBL after five years and Danny Jansson’s team is pretty much the same as the one that reached the ProA finals last season. In fact, eight players are still on the team from the 2021-22 season after which Tübingen qualified to be promoted but decided against moving up. Tübingen added scoring playmaker Jhivvan Jackson - aka The Puerto Rican Iverson - as well as forwards Jimmy Boeheim and Zaccheus Darko-Kelly and center Kaodirichi Akobundu-Ehiogu. Another important addition is Christoph Philipps from Hamburg. That group joins the core which is led by Mateo Seric, Aatu Kivimäki, Erol Ersek, Kriss Helmanis, Daniel Keppeler, Timo Lanmüller and Till Jönke. Tübingen are probably one of the top relegation candidates but the team’s continuity should help them early in the season to get some important wins.

easyCredit extends league naming rights deal until 2027-28

The easyCredit BBL will have that name for quite a while longer as the German BBL and the TeamBank AG extended their strategic partnership for more years until the end of the 2027-28 season. The league has been named easyCredit BBL since the start of the 2016-17 season.