The Miles Basketball Minute: BBL Semi-Final Playoff Preview Brose Bamberg-FC Bayern Munich 3-2

It may only have reached #42 in the American Billboard charts, but the classic Rolling Stones song “You can´t always get what you want” is not only a fan favorite at concerts, but one of those songs that even non fans will sing along to and would probably even be known in the most remote spots in Somalia or in the most smug igloo in Tasiilaq, Greenland. It is just overall a very well-liked song all over the world and about the only one that has got the big disapproval from the Rolling Stones for using their song for publicity has been US president Donald Trump who uses it after his speeches to public audiences. The Rolling Stones track “You can´t always get what you want” would fit perfect now in conversations in the NBA Western Confernce finals and the easyCredit BBL semi-finals as fans are witnessing that kind of “should be final” atmosphere already now. It may not be the case now, but not too long ago the San Antonio Spurs-Golden State Warriors would have been like the perfect NBA final had not both been in the same conference, but now with the injury to new NBA superstar Kwahi Leonard, fans are now wondering how badly the Golden State Warriors will slaughter the Spurs in game three and four and if a Steph Curry will pull a Klay Thompson. In the German easyCredit , one could chant the same song “You can´t always get what you want” in terms that the real final is already being played in the semi-final with Brose Bamberg against FC Bayern Munich. With all due respect to ratiopharm Ulm that were able to raise their game again from last season and steal the regular season show from Bamberg and Munich having the best record, but they will never be a better draw than these two teams who just are at a different level with their brand name. The song “You can´t always get what you want” is surely a perfect phrase for not only the Bamberg/Munich series, but also for fans and Per Guenther  in that if ratiopharm Ulm  can´t hold Raymar Morgan then one just has to accept it and team identity figure Per Guenther has been singing that song for years as he is still looking for his first BBL title after reaching 4 finals like the Buffalo Bills did with 4 Super Bowl finals.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Devin Booker in Strassburg, France

When one hears the big names of the German basketball clubs Brose Bamberg and FC Bayern Munich, one immediately expects easier outings in the Quarterfinals of the playoffs, but that was far from the case in the last 10 days as both teams struggled and one has to ask were these two teams just under worth or did the Telekom Baskets Bonn and Alba Berlin just step up their play to special proportions and just overachieved?

One could say it was a little of both. This season showed during the regular season that Bamberg isn´t invincible and with the exception of the exciting 5 game final series against FC Bayern Munich two years ago, that just mowing down their opponents in the playoffs and producing sweeps is in the past. The Telekom Baskets Bonn showed already 5 years ago that they can achieve the impossible winning in Freak City and did it again in game one 93-92 and from then on Bamberg played  better and had Bonn pretty much at their mercy even if the Baskets fought through out the whole series. After slipping badly in game one, Bamberg played consistently in the last three games using their big strength defense keeping Predrag Krunic and his troops to 67 points per game while playing solid on offense, but not to true form, but they didn´t need to yet as their defense was triumphant. Other keys in the series for Bamberg was their undeniable depth from the bench scoring 80 points in the last three games while Bonn got only 25 points in the last two games. Bamberg also dominated the boards and when it counted most in game 4 forced Bonn to 19 turnovers which broke their back in that do or die game. Key also was getting huge support from sniper Lucca Staiger who supplied 15 and 13 points from the bench in game two and three. Even the superb play of a Julian Gamble who averaged 15ppg in the series couldn´t get them over the hump as a strong starting five might be enough to get some wins, but never against an experienced and deep team like Bamberg where their unending depth just overpowered the Telekom Baskets Bonn.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and German national player Maodo Lo after dropping 10 points in 76-57 win in Frankfurt

After the unforgettable regular season for Alba Berlin where they more than underachieved and landed in sixth place, one didn´t really expect the 8 time BBL champion to be able to muster much success against the mighty powerful FC Bayern Munich. After the predicable 95-68 thrashing at the hands of FC Bayern Munich in game one, one was hopping that Alba Berlin would not get even more embarrassed and go down more helplessly than the Titanic did in 1912, but miraculously Alba Berlin came alive and really gave FC Bayern Munich a real run for the money as they were very close to forcing a game five. In game one, FC Bayern Munich did everything they knew how to do as they gave a strong 40 minute performance at both ends of the court nailing 13 three´s and shooting near 50% while winning the boards game, forcing Alba Berlin to 20 turnovers and racking up a ridiculous 57 points from the bench where five of the six players who scored in double figures came from the bench. However from game two until the end, Alba Berlin were in every game and the three games were decided by a total of only 19 points. In game 2, stat wise, the differences weren´t huge, but in the end, Alba Berlin played a smarter crunch-time and did the small things better to secure the win at home. In the crucial game three in Munich, Alba Berlin almost put the ultimate scare into FC Bayern Munich as they played them very tough again, but lost 80-73 and were destroyed on the boards 35-24 and couldn´t take care of the ball as well as the home team allowed four extra possessions and were missing that game go to guy to take control in crunch-time as only Elmeden Kikanovic scored in double figures with 12 points. In game four, the game was close throughout and went to the wire and with the score tied at 82-82 with 33 seconds to play, Alba Berlin was so close to prolonging their special playoff Cinderella story, but it was ex Alba player Reggie Redding who broke their back and season with an amazing penetration giving FC Bayern Munich the lead and Gerald Robinson then coughed up the ball and Nihad Djedovic sealed the 87-82 win with free throws. There wasn´t much separating both teams from the stats, but the experience factor of FC Bayern Munich was crucial in game four. FC Bayern Munich also did a great job spreading the ball around in the series as they had at least three players scoring in double figures in each game and Serbian Vladimir Lucic proved to be the team most consistent player averaging 14,0ppg in the series.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Danilo Barthel after scoring 25 points and getting 8 rebounds in the 82-81 loss in Braunschweig in 2014

“You can´t always get what you want” is the motto for the fans in the Brose Bamberg-FC Bayern Munich semi-final and this could become a classic series as both teams aren´t playing their absolute best basketball after getting through the quarterfinals as Bamberg isn´t what it once was and FC Bayern Munich have picked up their game from last season. Both teams will be focused to not only step up their play from the previous playoff series, but too once again demonstrate who really is Germany´s best basketball team even if neither is in the final yet. FC Bayern Munich go into the series with a little momentum even if they did lose the 2017 easyCredit BBL final to Bamberg and were only 1-2 this season, they were able to pick up their play step by step in each game and were a shot away from taking the cup into OT had Bryce Taylor´s jumper fallen. In the first game in Bamberg, FC Bayern Munich witnessed just how lethal Brose Bamberg can be when their ball movement is on as they went down 90-59 as Bamberg took advantage of Munich´s terrible 2/15 shooting from downtown and nailed 11 trey´s and dominated the boards. However in game 2, fans saw just how well both teams can defend as Bamberg lost in the Audi dome 67-59 as stat wise, there wasn´t much difference, but the bench told the story as FC Bayern Munich got 41 crucial points while Bamberg only 18. In the cup final, Bamberg escaped a 74-71 win as now the real season starts in the playoffs and it will be interesting to see where both teams can take their game now when it counts most. It is the two best defensive teams in the BBL going head to head with Bamberg´s amazing ball movement, small ball and speed countering against the FC Bayern Munich versatility and powering inside game. Both teams can score, but it will be the defense and who really has the heart to grind it out most for not 39 minutes and 59 seconds, but for the whole 40 minutes. FC Bayern Munich have the ultimate size and an advantage there and with the arrival of Maik Zirbes have that added banger that could wear down Bamberg in the crucial moments, while Bamberg like to play that small ball and have the speed advantage over FC Bayern Munich. It will be interesting to see how the leadership of guys like Bryce Taylor and Darius Miller will develop in a series like this to bring their respective teams over the top. Key players in this series will be Bamberg players Fabien Causeur who brings the game to another dimension with his quickness and Daniel Theis who lives on the rim and FC Bayern Munich forward Danilo Barthel who´s effectiveness is one of a kind. This series will go back and fourth,  where FC Bayern Munich needs to bring more intensity then they did against Alba Berlin and get consistent production inside from Booker and Zirbes. They won´t be able to counter the point supremacy of Causeur/Lo with their duo of Joyce/Johnson and in the end it is Bamberg that will move on 3-2 and be just a little better in key statistical elements especially on the defensive end where they just don´t falter as much in pressure moments and have a tic more better experience.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing then Wurzburg German national player Maxi Kleber after scoring 9 points and hauling down 7 rebounds in the 80-71 win against the Fraport Skyliners in 2014

 

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