Basketball: When FC Bayern Germany comes – sports
While the footballers of FC Bayern are stuck in a particularly long winter break after the messed up World Cup, the colleagues in the second professional department don’t even have time to catch their breath during these contemplative days. On Friday, the Munich basketball team will be visiting the Lithuanian champion Zalgiris Kaunas in the Euroleague, on December 27th they will be in Heidelberg in the Basketball Bundesliga (BBL), and on the 29th the year will end with the game at Partizan Belgrade.
Coach Andrea Trinchieri is therefore happy that his players can spend Boxing Day with their families, and his wish for the coming year is corresponding: “I only wish that all players and their families stay healthy, nothing else.”
The interim balance reads quite well, at least in the BBL. In the Bundesliga, FCB are in third place after defeats away in Hamburg and Bonn, close to leaders Bonn and second place Berlin, who each lost a game less. FCB is only 16th in the Euroleague, but the standings are very tight: only two victories are missing from eighth place, which means participation in the playoffs. The priority is the German championship, after three seasons of starvation, the Munich team last won the title in 2019.
And the chances seem good, because never before has FC Bayern been so well occupied in the positions of the German players as this season. In the reported twelve-man squad of a Bundesliga club, six German players are required, which has been Munich’s Achilles’ heel in recent seasons. And one reason why main competitor Alba Berlin was in the lead three times in a row in the title fight.
The Bayern basketball players could send a German team onto the field at any time
The squad planners on the Isar have turned this malus into the opposite. The naturalized Nick Weiler-Babb, Andreas Obst and Niels Giffey are three current European Championship bronze medal winners on the floor. Giffey, who joined from Spain’s top flight club Murcia, is a stroke of luck as the 31-year-old has found a spot after Zan Mark Sisko’s surprise departure. “We have a lot of quality in the German positions,” confirms Giffey, “so many good German players in a team is something special”.
There are also two other internationals in the squad, Isaac Bonga and Niklas Wimberg, who caused a stir at the Olympics in Tokyo when Germany reached the quarter-finals. The only 23-year-old Bonga, who came from the Los Angeles Lakers, is considered a player of the future. There are also two former national players: Paul Zipser, 28, who is finding his old strength after his brain surgery and could quickly become an alternative for national coach Gordon Herbert, and the 33-year-old veteran Elias Harris. Thus, Trinchieri can send a selection with Euroleague quality exclusively from German forces on the field – a FC Bayern Germany, so to speak.
And the foreign players are also of high quality: Vladimir Lucic and Ognjen Jaramaz are Serbian internationals, Othello Hunter, 36, Augustine Rubit, 33, and Corey Walden, 30, have international experience. That leaves the two new Americans Cassius Winston, 24, and Freddie Gillespie, 25. They occupy the places of Deshaun Thomas (31, from Olimpia Milano) and Darrun Hilliard (29, from Maccabi Tel Aviv), the lucrative offers of the financially strong Euroleague -Competitors assumed.
Winston and Gillespie are newcomers to the European level and need to get used to the very physical style of play. Coach Trinchieri warned before the start of the season that these commitments could also go wrong. This is obviously not the case: playmaker Winston still often gets bogged down in individual actions, but has proven in the BBL and the Euroleague that he can decide games. Gillespie, whose span gives the impression that he can tie his shoes standing up, is already a factor, at least defensively. The center is the best rebounder in the Bundesliga and blocks the fifth most throws. Offensively he still has adjustment problems, but shows increasing performance with increasing self-confidence. Center colleague Hunter also benefits from the relief under the basket.
All in all, this is news that should cause concern for the BBL competition, but the interaction of the Munich team is still in the identification phase. “I think you’re starting to see that it’s getting better from game to game and we’re finding better team chemistry on the pitch,” says Elias Harris. “Everyone gets to know each other better, everyone knows what the other can do, who’s playing how. I think there is an upward trend.” The most important thing, however, is that “despite the setbacks, we are ready to work, day after day, and that’s what we are”. What the coach will take care of.
Although Trinchieri complains about the “crazy game plan” and the lack of preparation, he also sees progress: “We will continue to adapt our game, we play faster now, throw more often and spread the game out.” His goal is quick deals and at least 30 three-pointers per game, which he is currently trying to “implement”.
He doesn’t want to think any further at the moment. Because in addition to the fine-tuning that his team has to find during the game, injuries are causing problems for the team. Isaac Bonga recently hurt his ankle and the guard is traveling to Kaunas. Lucic and Rubit are missing anyway and to make matters worse, Andreas Obst injured his elbow in the final training session and will be out for a few weeks. Trinchieri explains that this kind of thing immediately has a significant impact given the schedule: “In the past, a player would get injured and miss one or two games. Today he’s missing ten games in the same period.” He therefore does not want to formulate a goal for the season yet.
He doesn’t even have to. Managing director Marko Pesic already does that: “Of course, titles are our goal.”