On the court, professional basketball players take the game very seriously because it´s the game they love and it´s also what pays some Las Vegas weekends, but off the court, the majority of players are able to take a step back from their hardnosed focus and can also be more relaxed and in more of a joking manner to help kick the time away. Ex Fraport Skyliner Anthony King played many times in the Telekom Dome and even as a BBL allstar in 2014 probably could of come up with a funny line for his ex teammate Julian Gamble from Miami(NCAA) after he had heard that he had signed with Bonn. Back in the 2007-2008 season, King was a senior and the Durham, North Carolina native didn´t play his freshman year until the next season, but gained incredible valuable experience being able to practice with the squad. King who always seemed like a quiet fellow, but in reality knew exactly when and how to crack hilarious jokes, could have prepared Gamble for his new stomping ground as follows. “Hey Julian, the next time your sitting on the bench during a break from a game day shoot around, attempt to count how many magenta seats are in the arena, I came up with 1,349”. Of course, one could always have that option if one was totally overcome by boredom, but a guy like Gamble would rather have the game in his thoughts and how he would help his team gain the next victory. Gamble does have fond memories of King. “King was a mentor to me when I first stepped on campus. We also graduated from the same high school, so he knows what it was to make it out of where we came from. He definitely is a funny guy once you get to know him but very laid back at the same time”, stressed Gamble. He had a solid career at Miami where he reached a NCAA Sweet 16 and NIT Sweet 16 and Elite eight, but as a player was groomed for a certain role where he was unable to show what he really had until he became a professional. “Playing on a team where I had to play a role that wasn’t to score was difficult at times. It was hard because I always knew I had the ability and I worked on my game constantly. I just continued to work and prayed that God would allow me the opportunity to show what I can truly do and I think it was a surprise to most people”, warned Julian Gamble. However that all changed when he became a professional and tore up the French Pro B with Saint Vallier Basket Drome and in Belgium with Basic-Fit Brussels. He was a top scorer each season and was third in rebounding twice and second once and was the top shot blocker each season. “At Miami, my senior year especially, I was a good player on a great team. I took great pride in being whatever my team needed that night. That didn’t always mean big numbers but I always knew I had the ability to be a big time player given the opportunity. Once I was given that chance, I never looked back”, added Julian Gamble. Now the American who compares his game to Blake Griffin and lists Harrison Barnes as his toughest opponent in college is ready to make the next step in the competitive and highest league that he will have played in the EasyCredit BBL. With Bonn, he has a very talented supporting cast and has his feet on the ground and mentality keen on winning first before worrying about that double double. “My goal production wise will not change, but ultimately I want to win. Whatever it takes to win is what I will do, but my personal ambition as a player is to be the best I can be”, warned Julian Gamble. Gamble had a strong pre-season and is developing well and is on a good way of making the next step and so are the Telekom Baskets Bonn who want to wash away last season which was one to forget which was only their third time in 20 years where they failed to make the playoffs. He will be ready to erase his meager 4 point effort against Alba Berlin and get back on track against Frankfurt.
After finishing in 4th and 5th place in the regular season in 2014 and 2015, last season the Telekom Baskets Bonn slipped to 12th place and had an early summer vacation in early May getting an early jump on the summer café´s and sun tanning along the Rhein river. The season actually started off with a bang as they won five of their first six games including huge wins against FC Bayern Munich and ratiopharm Ulm where they demonstrated just how lethal an offense they had averaging 94 points in the two games, but then everything just fell apart as if it was night and day. They then lost a combined 12 games in a row of BBL and Eurocup games and saved their Christmas by winning a shootout against the Walter Tigers Tuebingen on the day before Christmas. However no turn around occurred as the team lost seven of it´s next nine games. One could see that consistency was a word absent from their vocabulary that one never knew what to expect from the club after despite winning two in a row against Tuebingen(twice 100 plus points) and Phoenix Hagen with 100 plus points, on the next weekend they had their biggest low point getting smacked around 78-48 in Frankfurt. During all of this head coach Matthias Fischer was dismissed as fans were as frustrated as a cat is when it outsmarted by a quicker mouse. Bonn knew how to put points on the board, but couldn´t defend if their life depended on it. They gave up 80 points or more 26 times and if one examines their results closely would have come to the conclusion that they could really have struggled more and had issues concerning lower standings positions if they had not won the majority of their offensive shoot outs.
With the arrival of new head coach Silvano Poropat, the club hopes to bring some fresh new wind to the team. Poropat has displayed in the past that he knows how to put together teams and lead them to success. He did that unexpectedly with Ludwigsburg in the 2006-2007 season and led them to the top two teams in the BBL and a semi-final berth of the playoffs and also helped bring the Mitteldeutscher BC back to the BBL. The Croatian coach did a great job bringing in new basketball blood and the team showed in pre-season that a healthy team chemistry was in the starting block and prepared to grow. “My first impression of Coach is that he very badly wants to win. I feel he knows the game well, in the ways he described to me things he liked I did. I also feel that family is important to him, which is important to me, because chemistry both on and off the court is what will make our time together something to remember”, stressed Julian Gamble. The club made a complete house cleaning keeping only Florian Koch. They were hoping that point guard Eugene Lawrence would remain, but didn´t. This season the Telekom Baskets Bonn have put together a very versatile team that is stronger at each position than it was last season. After the disastrous defensive season last year, a big focus this season will be on reducing the number of points they give up. Offensively Bonn have the capability to light up the scoreboard again, but it will be their defensive performance with the combination of athleticism and hunger of showing effort that will determine between a playoff spot or not. The club should also be capable of making their transition game a strength as good defense should get them more easy points than in the past. A few days before the start of the EasyCredit season, the club released some very upsetting news that head coach Silvano Poropat had a bad sickness and will have to miss some months. The club did a good job reacting and getting ex coach Predrag Krunic who was surprisingly available. Krunic had his first coaching stint with Bonn from 2001-2005 and was then the youngest coach in the BBL. He won a BBL title with the EWE baskets Oldenburg in 2009 and then coached in Poland, Bayreuth and Weissenfels. Krunic is a great coach, but how well will the team perform now with all this new coaching drama bestowed upon them?
The team held on to German Florian Koch who is a 24 year old 197cm forward who is the absolute identity having been with the club since 2010 and has played a total of 113 BBL games and last season had his breakthrough playing 34 games averaging 7.0ppg, 2.6rpg, FGP: 56.9%, 3PT: 40.8%, FT: 81.4%; Eurocup: 10 games: 4.8ppg, 2.7rpg. His athleticism and outside shooting will continue to garner him minutes. The club hauled in nine new players including Josh Mayo. Mayo is a 29 year old 181cm point guard that looks closer to 176cm, but is lightening quick and can drain the three. He has valuable experience in Europe having played in France, Latvia, Ukraine, Italy and Spain. Last season he played for Givova Scafati Basket (Italy-Serie A2) playing 41 games averaging 15.7ppg, 3.2rpg, Assists-3(5.2apg), FGP: 49.5%, 3PT: 43.6%, FT: 85.2%. Konstantin Klein is a 25 year old 187cm point guard from Berlin that was Pro B champion with Gotha in 2012 and that last played for the Fraport Skyliners from 2012-2016. He developed soundly with the club, but was hampered with injuries the last two seasons. Last season he played 33 games averaging6.6ppg, 1.8rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 41.1%, 3PT: 30.0%, FT: 82.1%; FIBA Europe Cup: 17 games: 6.6ppg, 1.6rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 33.3%, 3PT: 35.3%, FT: 81.5%.He shot an overwhelming 52% from outside in the 2014-2015 Eurochallenge season. His self-confidence as a German is as typical as that of an American and his aggressive play and motivation is a big strength of his. Klein was demoted badly by Skyliner head coach Gordon Herbert in the playoffs against ratiopharm Ulm where he played only 48 minutes in four games. Klein is burning with basketball desire to show everyone he belongs to the top 5 best German guards. The club also reeled in TJ Di Leo who is a 26 year old 190cm guard that will be playing his fourth professional season after playing his first three seasons with the Giessen 46ers and helped them reach the BBL in 2015.. He is the son of Tony Di Leo who coached in Germany and was also the GM of the Philadelphia 76ers. Last season the guard suffered injury woes and played only 19 games averaging 5.7ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 38.7%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 73.3%. Theex Temple(NCAA) guard has the heart of gold, is an aggressive defender and when left open will hurt you with his shot. He will bring energy from the bench and at times help with the playmaking. The club brought in another ex Giessen player with Yormon Polas who is a Cuban/German that has lived the basketball cinderella story playing his first six seasons in Cuba and then coming to Germany and going from the Regionaliga with FC Bayern Munich via the Pro A with Crailsheim and Giessen to the BBL to Bonn. Last season with Giessen he played 32 games averaging 9.9ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.4apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 57.8%, 3PT: 40.3%, FT: 60.0%. He has unending athleticism, will make waves with his defense and is difficult to control in the paint with his quickness and on transition.
The club also hauled in Ryan Thompson who is a 28 year old 198cm forward from Mount Laurel, New Jersey and is the younger brother of NBA player Jason Thompson is playing his seventh professional season and has won 2 titles in Belguim and one in Germany with Bamberg. The ex Rider(NCAA) standout has European basketball experience in Italy, Belgium and Turkey. Last season was a season to forget as he split time with Trabzonspor Basketbol (Turkey-BSL): 5 games: 8.0ppg, 2.6rpg, 1.6apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 52.6%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 64.7%; Eurocup: 6 games: 6.5ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.0spg, FGP: 65.0%, 3PT: 6.7%, FT: 62.5%. His role will be too find his scoring touch again and lead the team in crunch time and amaze the home fans with unforgettable dunks. The team also added Ken Horton who is a 26 year old 199cm forward from Ossining, New York playing his fifth professional season that has experience in France, Mexico, Australia and Finland. Last season he played for medi Bayreuth playing 34 games averaging 12.4ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.1apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 61.1%, 3PT: 35.1%, FT: 89.5%. The Cent.Conn.St. (NCAA) stand out can look back to 2006 where he started his basketball career as a guy who has always scored in double figures showing his consistent basketball scoring trait. He is a very versatile guy that has a deadly three pointer, can play with the back to the basket and don´t put him on the free throwline because he won´t miss. Flip Barovic is a 26 year old 207cm center that hails from Montenegro. He has toiled around in leagues in Montenegro, Hungary and Romania and now is ready to make the next step in the higher league BBL. Last season he played for Lukoil Academic Sofia (Bulgaria-NBL) playing 35 games: 10.9ppg, 7.1rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 66.2%, 3PT-1(50.0%), FT: 73.9%; FIBA Europe Cup: 12 games: 13.6ppg, 6.6rpg, FGP: 54.9%, FT: 67.2%. He is the classical post player that excels on the pick and roll, but also will hit the three. His experience will help the team as he knows how to win winning 5 titles in Montenegro and one in Bulgaria. Johannes Richter is a 22 year old 208cm power forward, but can also play center. He got his first BBL experience with Bamberg and played the last two and a half seasons with the Fraport Skyliners. He made his international breakthrough two seasons ago in the Eurochallenge hitting the Baaken Bears with 15 and 10 points. However in the BBL, it was tough getting playing time with the twin towers Voigtmann and Barthel in the way. Last season he played 25 games: 2.7ppg, 2.0rpg; FIBA Europe Cup: 9 games: 2.6ppg, 2.8rpg, played also at Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt II (ProB): 16 games: 17.3ppg, 8.3rpg, 3.0apg, FGP-3(63.7%), 3PT: 41.8%, FT: 73.1%. He is a versatile big man with the modern game that is a relentless fighter under the rim and can drain the trey at his desire. Gordon Herbert called him his best offensive rebounder last season.
Despite some skeptics questioning how well the guard duo of Mayo/Klein will be, they will make the grade as they have shown incredible desire in the pre-season and have played well together and can also play at the same time on the court. The big man duo of Gamble/Barovic is very solid and the forward duo of Horton/Richter compliment each other well as both do things separately well. The bench of DI Leo, Polas and Koch are very solid. Oh and not to forget Ryan Thompson is on a mission to forget his season of last where he lost his scoring touch in Serbia and Turkey and get back to winning and playing ways he had two seasons ago with Bamberg. Head coach Poropat is a winner and wants to bring success as badly back to Bonn as the fans want to see it again. “Year for year it gets more difficult for those last 1-2 playoff spots. Bonn has put together a very solid team. They get a Ryan Thompson who played at Bamberg and Mayo a very experienced player and some talented German players. The talent is there for a playoff team. They will have to see if the chemistry is good enough to make the jump back in the play offs”, stressed Phoenix Hagen assistant coach Steven Wriedt. Last season, Frankfurt won 82-59 on the road as Johannes Voigtmann had 20 points and Konstantin Klein Netted 19 points. In the return game, Frankfurt creamed Bonn at home 78-48 and were led by Danilo Bathel with 18 points and Johannes Voigtmann had 17 points. Both teams come into the game today with an 0-1 record and looking to get that first win of the season. The Telekom Baskets Bonn were beat by Alba Berlin on the road where their offense was already in season mode, but their defense just couldn´t handle the many weapons that head coach that Ahmet Caki threw at them. The Fraport Skyliners were rattled by the Brose Baskets Bamberg on the road 85-54. It was what most expected as Bamberg overwhelmed the guests with their potent roster and growing team chemistry while the Fraport Skyliners´s new era had began with a new influx of young Germans learning to make the grade this season. In some way, it could have been advantageous to start with a very tough game like this, because they could see after the game exactly where the building blocks are for improvement. In Bonn, the Fraport Skyliners will meet ex players Konstantin Klein and Johannes Richer. Richter is as expected still finding his role and fighting for minutes while Klein has been integrated nicely and he quickly found his role in preseason and become a starter. Klein has a lot to prove, but won´t be able to show his talent to Gordon Herbert who is out, but will gladly have Klaus Perwas witness what Frankfurt have missed in not keeping him. This will be a tough game for the Fraport Skyliners as Bonn is definitely farther at this point of the season in all aspects of the game.