Basketball: Giffey’s explosive change puts him in trouble himself

Giffey’s explosive move puts him in a tight spot himself

Germany's Niels Giffey (r) and in action against Dutchman Shane Hammink.  Photo: Matthias Stickel/dpa

Germany’s Niels Giffey (r) and in action against Dutchman Shane Hammink. photo

© Matthias Stickel/dpa

Niels Giffey and Alba Berlin – that belonged together for years as a matter of course. But now the national player plays for the big rival – and gets himself into scheduling difficulties.

Actually should Niels Giffey be in Bamberg these days. In the former German basketball stronghold, the national team is currently preparing for the World Cup qualifier against Finland on Friday.

Giffey was planned as one of three European Championship heroes, should give stability to the once again wildly mixed squad together with local hero Christian Sengfelder and Justus Hollatz and bring the momentum of the bronze medal won. But instead of Bamberg Giffey is currently training in Munich, around 230 kilometers away. Because since Tuesday it has been clear what has been speculated for a few days – Giffey is now wearing the FC Bayern jersey and has committed himself to Munich until the summer of 2025.

Giffey: “Obviously a special step for me”

So these are turbulent days for the 31-year-old – and the next ones won’t be any less exciting. Because if everything goes according to plan, the two-time US college champion will celebrate his debut on Thursday in his native city of all places Berlin in the German Euroleague duel between Alba and Bavaria (8 p.m. / Magentasport).

“This is of course a special step for me and also an emotional one that I thought about for a long time,” said Giffey, who only switched to Murcia a few weeks ago for the strong Spanish ACB. The fans in Berlin will not greet him warmly on Thursday. After the announcement of the change, there was already strong criticism on the relevant Internet forums about the decision of the small forward, who had worn the Alba jersey a total of 245 times in the Bundesliga from 2014 to 2021 and went to Lithuania last year by winning the German championship to Zalgiris Kaunas.

“But Munich is now a very good option for me, also because of the long-term perspective,” said Giffey, who will meet many old acquaintances from the national team again at Bayern in Paul Zipser, Andreas Obst, Isaac Bonga and Nick Weiler-Babb. On Thursday there will be then in Berlin a reunion with Maodo Lo and Johannes Thiemann, with whom he had won the first German medal in 17 years in the Mercedes-Benz Arena in mid-September.

The fact that five European Championship heroes are on the floor in the Euroleague on Thursday instead of playing for Germany in the World Cup qualifier the day after shows the madness that has been going on in the international for several years basketball reigns. There have long been conflicts between the world association Fiba and the privately organized Euroleague regarding the game calendar. In the European premier class, the game will continue to be played in international game windows. The change at the top of the Euroleague hasn’t changed that.

Decision: FC Bayern or DBB selection

So Giffey practically got himself into trouble with his transfer. Because he can only play one of the two games. And the hands of the German Basketball Association are once again tied. “It may be that he plays for Bayern on Thursday. The club makes the decision because he is under contract there,” said Armin Andres as DBB Vice President of the dpa.

Whether Giffey and Co. will be in the second game of the qualifying window on Monday in Slovenia is also not yet certain. “We’re still trying to find out if there’s still a chance. The players are interested, but the pressure is very high because they didn’t have a break at all after the European Championship,” said Andres. And since Germany is almost certainly qualified for the World Cup next year, the need to nominate the players who have been under a lot of pressure is not so great. Giffey could also take a breather after a turbulent few days.


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