It is often said that a person learns best when being confronted by something at an early age, learning by doing or just being exposed to it and getting experience. One of these basketball players that perfectly fills the shoes of a guy that learned how to avoid confrontation and tough situation was FC Bayern Munich guard Malcolm Delaney. He didn´t grow up in Beverly Hills, Lakeshore East in Chicago or Coconut Grove in Miami, but grew up in east Baltimore one of the more avoidable places where one would want to go on account of its violence. He had to learn at a young age in what direction he had to go as a person and on the court. Of course his parents gave him the right guidance and it helped that as a five year old, he had to play against the bigger kids aged 10-12 because there were no programs for kids that young. He learned to be tough at a young age which also helped the mental side to develop mental toughness on the court. Mental toughness is a collection of attributes that allows a person to preserve through difficult circumstances and escape without losing confidence. He didn´t go to a Duke or North Carolina where he would have won many games easily, but instead went to Virginia Tech where the easiness to win isn´t served to you on a silver platter like at Kansas or Ohio State. But Delaney did play in possibly the toughest conference in the NCAA with the ACC where he battled against all the top schools in North Carolina and also big time schools like Syracuse and Wake Forest. He never won an ACC title, and only reached one semi final, but what better way to grow as a player mentally then playing against the best each weekend. His ability to get through difficult situations and lead a team has been demonstrated best in his first two seasons as a professional as he is four for four and is looking for a fifth and sixth title with FC Bayern Munich. In 2011-2012 as a rookie, he didn´t wait long to get that first title, but right away three with Chalon in France. Chalon was a team that nobody had on the radar, but the Baltimore native was one of the main factors with Blake Schilb and Ilian Evtimov why they won two cups and the league title. Last season, he helped Budivelnyk Kyiv (Ukraine-Superleague) win the league title. Ex teammate Frank Robinso who played in Germany for Ludwigsburg and Wurzburg was more than impressed the first time he saw him play. “I believe his ability to score is amazing. He scores from everywhere on the court. The first time I saw him play was when I signed in Ukraine. The day I arrived they played a game and he shot an high arcing floater off one leg from the free throw line. It was like 2mins to go in a close game. Nothing but net. I ladled Leo Lyons about the shot and Leo said “that’s his shot.” Very soon after I realized it was something that he did pretty often”, stressed Frank Robinson. Now with FC Bayern Munich he has the chance to win two more titles which would give him six in three years.
Remember the legendary Michael Jordan won six titles in six years with the Chicago Bulls. In his first season in Germany with FC Bayern Munich, he has been integrated well into a team of top players that he hadn´t seen so far in his career. He is third in team scoring, first in assists and despite being sixth in three point scoring is shooting a solid 41,2% from down town. He is third in assists in the Beko BBL and has his highest assist total ever as a professional and collegian. If he was playing for any other team in Germany except Bamberg or Alba Berlin, he would have even higher stats. Crazier things have happened in the game of basketball, but if he doesn´t win a title in Munich, it would be as surprising as if the soccer team FC Bayern Munich didn´t win any titles this season. His ex teammate Ilian Evtimov shared his thoughts on his ex teammate. “I think his best weapon is his ability to draw fouls whenever he wants. We used to always joke during the games, as soon as we were in the bonus for free throws, I used to tell him, get on the line and get your 6 extra points. Lol. The next play he would get fouled, and start shooting free throws. May favorite memory with him was the Championship game in the French cup and the Championship game for the league title. We were on the court having a lot of fun out there. Playing, smiling, making extra passes, killing the opponent. I have no doubt Malcolm Delaney will be one of the best, if not the best player for Munich”warned ex Frankfurt Skyliner Ilian Evtimov. Robinson is more than convinced the title wins will continue for Delaney and when games are on the line, he will always step up. “I believe he can and will win a title this season. I also believe he will one day win a Euro League title. He has that much talent and potential.. The thing about Malcolm is he knows how to figure out his teammates and fix his game to where he can make them better while also still providing the same efficiency and output. He’s a lead by example type of guy and really is learning how to win at a high level. Malcolm was really poised and let the game come to him but with that said every game when the game was on the line he knew how to take over offensively and make sure we won.. At this point there is nothing he does that surprises me. He is an incredible talent and has the skill set to play lead or off guard at a high level”, added Frank Robinson. No matter in what league in Germany, eyes are always on Delaney. “He is a fierce competitor. He knows how to score the basketball. He is very crafty and adept at getting to the foul line. Our junior year we tied the school record for wins. That was a fun year. I thought we should have made the tournament that year”, stressed Science City Jena guard Dorenzo Hudson.
Last season, the FC Bayern Munich already had high expectations as the urge for a title is something that the big bosses want to see. The club had one of the biggest budgets in the league and anything but winning titles was already a major disappointment then as one saw more and more that Uli Hoeness was slowly getting a basketball mentality to match his already huge soccer mentality that will never be surpassed by basketball. The team wanted to keep some of the team chemistry by keeping eight players. Five Germans were kept with captain Steffen Hamann who wasn´t getting younger, but as a back up is a player that any team would die for, Demond Greene who could still give a mean defensive presence, Robin Benzing who strived under new coach Svetislav Pesic, Jan Jagla who also strived more under father in law Sveitislav Pesic and young big man Bogdan Radosavljevic who will prosper from daily practices with the experienced players, but didn´t get playing time due to the deep roster. The club also kept the inside duo of Jared Homan who was one ofthe fiercest player in the league and Chevon Troutman who continued to dazzle with his athletic ability. The team added 4 high class players starting with top Israel player Yotam Halperin who had such a versatile game and brought 140 Euroleague games to the table. Lawrence Roberts was an all around solid big man that played 88 games in the NBA. The team also hauled in top point guard Tyrese Rice who could decide a game at anytime and role player Brandon Thomas that could be a top scorer for almost any other team. Before any of these players had even played a minute in the new season, FC Bayern Munich showed their FC Hollywood face releasing a press release that might of even had an eskimo reading it in Alaska as they dismissed Dirk Bauermann. What exactly happened will never be known, but the timing couldn´t have been more unusual or untimely. The team stuck with assistant coach Yannis Christopolous who didn´t fare well shaping a team of stars. The team then got their wish candidate with Svetislav Pesic that won 7 titles with Alba Berlin including the Korac Cup in 1995, the 1993 European championships with Germany and 2001 European championships with Yugoslavia and 2003 Euroleague with FC Barcelona. Despite all this strength at the end of the season, no title was brought back to the Isar in Munich. FC Bayern Munich finished the season in fourth place with a recor21-13 and gave 8 time Beko BBL club Alba Berlin a scare sweeping them 3-0 routing them in game one and then having the better nerves in crunch time winning two close games. They gave then five time champion Brose Baskets Bamberg a run for their money, by taking them through a hard fought five game series where at halftime in game five the game was dead locked at 40-40. However the home court and vast Bamberg experience prevailed in the end as they outscored FC Bayern Munich 45-26 thus ending the second season for FC Bayern Munich since returning to the league.
The father son duo of Svetislav Pesic and Marko Pesic did a good job creating a more than a competitive team for this season. They held four players from last season with three Germans and one American. The club retained ex German national players Steffen Hamann and Demond Greene who wont be fighting for any massive playing time or getting it, but their presence will be so valuable on and off the court and know how to win titles having done it in Bamberg and Berlin. It is evident that 32 year old 195cm guard Hamann is nearing the end of his career as he is averaging 5,8 minutes per game and 1,3ppg. His penetration to the hoop is still dangerous as he burnt Frankfurt on occasion last season. The team also held Robin Benzing who is a 208cm forward who really profited from the arrival of Pesic as his playing time and production increased over his first season last year. His role is to hit his shots, improve defense and possibly be more versatile and get more buckets inside. The ex TV Langen player is currently averaging 11,3ppg, 2,3rpg and 1,0apg and is shooting 41,7% from outside. The team also kept Chevon Troutmann (9,3ppg, 4,3rpg) who has been a valuable player and one of the most consistent over the last two seasons. After playing in France and Italy, the 202cm forward has adapted well to the Beko BBL. The club will rely on his percentage shooting again and rebound work. The club added 10 new players including four Germans, four Americans and two Serbs. They also served themselves a smorgasboard of ex Alba Berlin players grabbing four players. The club signed 29 year old 181cm German national player Heiko Schaffartzik(7,3ppg, 1,3rpg, 1,3apg) who is captain of the German national player, but will be one of many spectacular players in Munich. He has played in nine places in Germany and only one title to show for with a 2013 cup win with Alba Berlin. Who could forget his break out season at the 2009 European championships where he shot 54% from the parking lot. He is known for wild three pointers that hit the mark, but he wont only be relied on scoring, but will be able to keep developing other parts of his game. Yassin Idbihi(8,0ppg, 3,0rpg) is a 30 year old 208cm center that also comes from Alba Berlin where he was able to win a cup with Schaffartzik and now will battle daily with big John Bryant. He played at Buffalo(NCAA) and in France, Cologne and Braunschweig previously.He will help Munich with his sold inside game and good shooting. 25 year old 195cm shooting guard Lucca Staiger who is a sharp shooter comes from Ludwigsburg where he was able to develop responsibility and heighten his role and will try to be more than just a shooter under Pesic. He played at Iowa State and Alba Berlin. He once scored 106 points in a youth game. He will be able to improve his defense under Pesic. The club also signed big German talent Paul Zipser from Heidelberg. If he will be able to crack the lineup this season is unlikely, but daily experience in practice will be beneficial. The club brought in 26 year old 208cm two time Beko BBL center MVP John Bryant(9,0ppg, 7,0rpg) who has developed nicely with ratiopharm Ulm and is looking to make the next step and win his first title. He carried on the Jeff Gibbs tradition at Ulm winning rebound titles the last three years as did the Ohio native under Mike Taylor. Bryant has all the tools a center needs and which 208cm center can say he is a beast and can hit the three? The team got 24 year old 191cm guard American Malcolm Delaney(8,8ppg, 2,5rpg, 6,6apg) to run the point. He is a top player in Europe that has shown his scoring talent in France and in the Ukraine. He is a dangerous combo guard that can score and get assists at a high rate and is good and getting in the passing lanes. The team hauled in 25 year old 203cm forward Deon Thompson from Alba Berlin who belonged to the top four players last season in the Beko BBL, but will have to share playing time in Munich and get less minutes. The >American is a physical player that is good at getting offensive boards and is a great free throw shooter. He is injured at the moment and the team brought in 26 year old 203 cm forward Boris Savovic(10,5ppg, 5,0rpg) to help fill the void at the power forward position. He played for top Serbian team KK Hemofarm Stada Vrsac most of his career and just brings vast experience and consistency. He is a high energy player, van rebound and help out at the five position. The club brought in veteran 27 year old 193 cm guard Bryce Taylor(8,5ppg, 2,3rpg, 2,3apg) who has been playing in Germany since 2009 for teams like Bonn, Berlin and Artland and is a high energy player that can score, play defense and hit game winning shots as FC Bayern Munich remembers well. He can electrify the crowd with his crushing dunks. The club round out their roster with top Bosnian player Nihad Djedovic(15,0ppg, 1,8rpg, 1,3apg) who belongs to the top of the class from 1990 and will be a force on offense and bring his smartness to the deep roster. He already played Euroleague as a 17 year old for FC Barcelona. His quick foot work will be aplus on defense, but often ha sthe tendency to have wild spurts on the floor.
Pesic is a winner that preaches defense like ex head coach Dirk Bauermann and likes a structured offense. He will bring chemistry to this team. The strength of the team is the even deeper rotation and the older German players that stayed on. They are more athletic this season and a big advantage to last season is that this season FC Bayern Munich can use their deepness in situations that they couldn´t last season as this season they have a 12 man roster where each player could start on any other Beko BBL team. Last season often when they needed that sudden spark form the bench, they were a bit limited at certain position to keep that energy flow going on the court. Due to their vast athletic talent, the team will hurt opponents with their transition game. Their biggest enemy will be themselves. The question will be how well the club deals with pressure and with the many stars and their less playing time that they will have due to the deep roster and the long and grueling Euroleague schedule. FC Bayern Munich has won seven of their eight games and lost only to Oldenburg and Artland in 2014 and only lost to Alba Berlin in the first half of the season. Wins have become tougher to come by in the last weeks as Beko BBL teams are playing them hard and the most famous German team has squeaked out some close wins, but the club still is the deepest, most talented and best coached team in the league and still have the best cards to win games in crunch time just due to the vast experience of their roster. The Fraport Skyliners enter the game with a seven game losing streak and still winless in 2014. Frankfurt has shown in the last two weeks that they can play with any playoff team and will go into this game motivated for an upset. “We have to defend very well and limit turnovers. I feel that if we can play tough than we can beat anyone in the league”, warned American Ramon Galloway. After the bitter loss in Ludwigsburg where Skyliner Quantez Robertson let ex NBA player Coby Karl provoke him was already looking forward to FC Bayern Munich and remembered the upset at home two years ago and wants to do it again. “We can beat Munich with hard work and defense. I think that if we can outwork them that we will win”, stressed Quantez Robertson. Skyliner captain Marius Nolte who is the fan favorite knows that they have a great chance in their own living room. “The fans support us so much and because they never stop to support us, we never give up on the court. If we go out play like a team, have the fans behind us, then I feel we can make a surprise”, warned Marius Nolte. In the 2011-2012 season the two teams split the season series. FC Bayern Munich won in Munich 58-57 a game that the Fraport Skyliners had as good as won, but let Je Kel Foster get hot in crunch time securing the win. In the return date in Frankfurt, The Fraport Skyliners humiliated FC Bayern Munich 68-49 as they limited them to nine points in the first quarter and 22 points in the second half. Frankfurt showed a strong defensive performance for 40 minutes and was led by Jimmy Mckinney with 18 points and Jermareo Davidson chipped in with 12 points. Last season FC Bayern Munich won in Frankfurt 73-59 Robin Benzing led all scorers with 21 points while Dawan Robinson added 15 points for the losers. “It wasn´t a finesse game, but a physical game. We got tired and just didn´t bring the intensity that we should have on the rebound”, added Ted Scott. There was one positive aspect to the loss for the Fraport Skyliners. “We fought and never gave up. We really showed a lot of desire to win”, stressed Dawan Robinson. In the return game in Munich, Bayern Munich won 79-72 as it was Robin Benzing again that hit big shots. Chevon Troutman led all scorers with 26 points while the Fraport Skyliners were led by Zach Peacock with 16 points. The Fraport Skyliners lost the first game of the season in Munich 97-65 as it was a helpful learning experience for the young German players that were thrown into the cold water in the Audi Dome. Frankfurt today could wish that they were missing only two players like they did then with Quantez Robertson and Aziz Ndiaye. FC Bayern Munich was led by Malcolm Delaney and Heiko Schaffartzik with 15 points a piece while Yassin Idbihi chipped in with 14 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Andrew Rautins, Dawan Robinson and Danilo Barthel with 12 points a piece.