The Miles Basketball Minute: BBL Playoff Preview: Brose Bamberg-Telekom Baskets Bonn: 3-0

In the second last game of the season, Alba Berlin were embarrassed in Frankfurt 83-71 and at times made unbelievable mistakes on the court as if the 8 time BBL champion was still in pre season instead of right before high noon and the playoffs. One of the more experienced Alba Berlin players Tony Gaffney made one of those “did he really do that” turnovers when on a broken play there was a miscommunication and he threw the ball into his own end which had Niklas Kiel scoop up the loose ball and go for the easy bucket as he was all alone. This is a play that the ex Boston Celtic would want to forever erase from his memory, but then again the ex Los Angeles Laker does have other more memorable highlights from his BBL days including one that occurred a little more than 5 years ago when he was playing with the Telekom Baskets Bonn. They faced off against the then seemingly unstoppable Brose Baskets Bamberg that showcased 3 NBA players in their starting lineup with Casey Jacobson, PJ Tucker and Brian Roberts and surprisingly won game one in Bamberg 75-74 on a last second buzzer beater by his teammate Benas Veikalas. The Telekom Baskets Bonn could surely rewatch that buzzer beater from Veikalas again or just ask current German Florian Koch who saw that game from the bench as he registered a DNP for some special motivation. Then again, the Telekom Baskets Bonn don’t really need to look back for advice since they have their own array of snipers and buzzer beater shooters like Ken Horton or guys like Josh Mayo and Ryan Thompson that could make their own sweet history against Bamberg.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Bamberg forward Nicolo Melli after the 76-57 victory in Frankfurt

After missing the BBL playoffs for only the third time in the last 20 years last season, the Telekom Baskets Bonn rebounded from their trauma from last year and had a very strong season that was up to the usual Telekom Baskets Bonn standard. Despite head coach Silvano Poropat taking a leave of absence due to health problems, the team reacted quickly and brought back Predrag Krunic who had had success in Bonn more than 10 years ago. The combined work of Poropat reeling in the right character players and Krunic forming the team chemistry, it was suddenly fun again to watch games in the Telekom Dome. After a slow start losing two of three, the team then won four in a row against weaker teams, but got their self confidence growing. There best span came from February to April as they won eight of ten games. Their biggest wins of the season were against FC Bayern Munich, Alba Berlin and the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg. It also helped their self confidence that they were playing a very successful Fiba Europe Cup.

They were a quarter away from reaching the final, but allowed a Chris Warren of Nanterre to take over in the fourth quarter dashing their hopes of giving Bonn their first international title. One couldn´t say that there was one star, but very many very good team players that also had those special one on one qualities. Guys like diminutive point guard Josh Mayo who shoots over 40% from outside and is unstoppable in the penetration, shooter Ryan Thompson who will play against his ex team and seek revenge and Julian Gamble who can explode inside and score in bunches with ease led the team on offense. A Ken Horton could score 20 points on any night and Yormon Polas Bartolo was the anchor on defense and always fun to watch with his athleticism. The two imports Filip Barovic and Ojars Silins gave valuable energy from the bench inside and TJ DiLeo exhibited that never ending aggressive defense and offensive punch. The club demonstrated on many occasions that they can score the ball as they were fifth best averaging 83ppg, but also showed they can defend on occasion keeping Alba Berlin to 72 points, but then again when studying their season box score point results, they did get more into a shoot out habit and would have lost many more games if they didn´t have their offensive capabilities. Taking care of the ball and getting clutch scoring when it´s most needed from the bench are two areas where the team had problems this season

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Telekom Baskets Bonn point guard Josh Mayo after dropping 24 points in the 74-73 win in Frankfurt

After finishing the regular season first in five of the last six years, Brose Bamberg finished second this season, but nobody really seemed to notice as ratiopharm Ulm stole the season show from freak city. The BBL season of Brose Bamberg is a tale of three winning streaks. They started off the season in a dog fight with ratiopharm Ulm winning their first 13 games, but then lost their first head to head battle with ratiopharm Ulm. They then went on a 10 game winning streak, but then surprisingly lost back to back games against FC Bayern Munich and ratiopharm Ulm a feat that has been as rare in the last 7 years as it is giving Janis Strelnieks a spot anywhere in the corner that he doesn´t like. They closed out the season with a six game winning streak. Their biggest strength is their team chemistry which isn´t as strong as in the past, but still very good as it had kept 11 players and their overall experience is best in the BBL.  Other strengths include their rugged defense something which was installed years ago by German national coach Chris Fleming and has continued to define their game since then. They also boast the third best offense averaging 83 points per game and have the best, prettiest and most fluid ball movement in the BBL something that Gregg Popovich would give his thumbs up to. The club also have the deepest roster in the BBL and really a whos who of great players with guys like ex NBA player Darius Miller, Euroleague winner Nikolaos Zisis, top Italian player in Europe Nicolo Melli, French national player Fabien Causer and German national players Daniel Theis and Maodo Lo. There are little weaknesses in the team and some even partially hidden as they are an overall good rebounding team grabbing 31 per game which is fifth best in the league, but worst in offensive rebounds in the BBL at 7,0.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Greek legend Nikolaos Zisis after scoring 12 points in 14 minutes in Bamberg 76-57 victory

The Brose Baskets Bamberg arrive into the BBL playoffs with a groove having a 6 game winning streak and want to add on to that while the Telekom Baskets Bonn come into the playoffs having lost four of their last five games including bitter losses to lesser teams BG Goettingen and the Basket Lowen Braunschweig and seemed a bit drained from the long season. Brose Bamberg won the season series by a combined score of 35 points and played against each other twice in a time frame of only three weeks. In the first meeting on December 17th, Bamberg destroyed Bonn at home 84-64 where they dominated the boards and did a good job on everyone except for Josh Mayo who had 23 points and limited the Bonn bench to eight points. In the return game on January eighth, Bamberg won on the road 85-70 as they once again defended very well and allowed Ryan Thompson to go off on them for 33 points, but had everyone else well in check. They also rebounded better, did a great job taking care of the ball coughing it up only eight times and limited the Bonn bench to only five points. This will be a one sided series as Brose Bamberg will get out the brooms at home in game three. Bamberg simply are stronger in every important statistical category, have more experience and more depth. It is no secret that the real season starts now in the playoffs and that is when Bamberg will step it up as great teams always do. They may have had a long Euroleague season, but have 12 very strong players that could start for any other BBL team and will simply overpower a very pesky Bonn team that might win one game if all goes right, but a whole series is impossible. The Telekom Baskets season ended a few weeks ago when French team Nanterre shocked them at home as that fourth quarter comeback is still in their heads.

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