The German All-Star Day 2010 was on the schedule this Saturday in Bonn. With the move from Mannheim to the Telekom Dome, the BEKO BBL has made an excellent decision as the arena was sold out and a great atmosphere throughout the event confirmed the popularity of the sport in Bonn. Even Euroleague CEO Jordi Bertomeu flew in for the day to check the situation of the Bundesliga (and eventually check the Telekom Dome as a potential EuroCup Final 4 arena, who knows?).
The day started with the very interesting NBBL All-Star game that was however once again played in 4*10 minutes where the first three quarters had an unstopped clock. After some turnovers in the beginning, the game developed very well and finished with a big show in the end. A long three point shot to force OT and a MVP performance by Patrick Heckmann in the 3 supplementary minutes marked a huge game for this type of event where both teams wanted to win . There have already been about 5000 (!!) fans in the arena and the youngsters made them go crazy in the final moments of the game. The German youth system is progressing very well, the talented 1992 generation is looking very promising and may be at the same level than the already succesful 89s. With the Albert-Schweitzer Tournament and the U17 World Championship coming later this year, the German basketball fans are not lacking major youth competition either in the next months.
Patrick Heckmann (1m97 – Guard – 1992 – ASC Theresianum Mainz)
Patrick Heckmann was one of the players in this game who I have not seen before. This has changed now and I must admit that it was about time. The 1m97 guard, who is listed as a forward but played most of the time as PG, is definitely among the most talented players in the NBBL and in Germany in general. After a year with Cheyenne Mountain High School in the US, where he transformed a losing team into a Play-off participant, the athletic guard came back to Germany and plays an outstanding season with the ASC NBBL team but is also one of the team leaders of the ASC Seniors in the Regionalliga (4th German division).
Heckmann displays a rare combination of basketball understanding, leadership qualities, athletic abilities and a winning spirit. He led his NBBL to a surprising 8-1 record and showed also in the All-Star game why he is considered as a top talent, he scored 7 of the 9 points of the South team in the overtime to secure the win and earn a deserved MVP trophy. In the beginning of the game, Heckmann showed some nice drives out of the catch immediately beating his opponent with either the left or the right hand. He finished those penetrations very well and close to the basket where his good athletic abilities helped him. He can create for his team mates, this is why he should play Point Guard on the professional level.
The guard from Mainz showed all his leadership and basketball skills in the three-minute long overtime where he decided the game nearly all by himself. A nice drive on the break finished from 45 degrees of the glass with the foul, another drive finished with a finger roll and a ultra tough 3pt fade-away jump shot to seal the deal were the plays that earned him the MVP award. He finished the game with 19pts (7/8 FGs, 4/5FTs), 1reb, 2asts, 3stls and 1blk. With his basketball skills and a good body structure to build on, Heckmann looks right now as a very interesting prospect. Several professional teams tried to sign him after his year in the USA, but he returned to his hometown Mainz where he will stay until 2012 and get his high school degree. Afterwards, everything should be possible for him.
NBBL Stats: 25.7ppg (47.7% FG 89.3% FT), 5.5rpg, 2.3apg, 2.4spg, 0.7bpg
Besnik Bekteshi (1m86 – Guard – 1993 – BBA Ludwigsburg)
The youngest player in the game was far away from being shy. The team leader of BBA Ludwigsburg showed interesting scoring skills, especially from behind the arc where he can knock down the threes easily. Despite looking a bit frail and not very explosive, Bekteshi created himself always the necessary space to get the open shots either by the dribble or by moving off the ball. His shot does not look super quick but the mechanics are very regular and he is not afraid to fire it up.
The guard is also driving to the basket and finishing the moves in a soft but intense way. He has some nice fakes that give him the necessary opportunities to score but he may lack a bit of the playmaking skills to become a real PG. However, as this was just an All-Star game, it is important to see how he acts when the normal regular games are going on. Despite being not too tall, he recognizes well when he is guarded by smaller players to go post them up and finish against them in the low block. His All-Star stats looked excellent though with 18pts (4/7 3s) and 7rebs. With two more seasons to go in the NBBL from this summer, Bekteshi has yet a long way to go, but he will probably be one of the main players of the German U17 National Team this summer.
NBBL Stats: 23mpg 15.6ppg (54.1% 2FG, 45.7% 3FG), 3.7rpg, 3.0apg, 3.6spg
Philipp Neumann (2m06 – Center – 1992 – Breitengüssbach) took the game pretty serious as the German Center was as happy as no one else on the final buzzer that his team has won. Playing as physical as ever, the 2m06 tall player did not show that much of progress in terms of forcing it inside tough. With his outstanding physical and athletic skills, he was very present in the low block where he saw several double or even triple teams on him and managing to score anyhow. Several of these moves looked forced but they worked. The main problem for Neumann is that he does not know yet when to give the ball back out and when to play it inside. However, he gave some passes back out yesterday which shows that he is working on this. It is important for him to do so if he wants to make the next step. Right now, he is still a very impressive player on this level, showing excellent scoring skills and big presence on rebounding and shot blocking. He may add some long distance threat in the future too but did not show much of face-up plays though. Most of the scores came from powering in the low post. He finished the game with 12pts (6/9 FGs), 7rebs and 5blks.
NBBL Stats: 22.0ppg (76.7% 2FG), 13.8rpg, 2.2bpg
Dennis Ogbe (1m97 – Forward – 1991 – Franken Hexer) was one important player for the South team as the PF from Franken Hexer did a lot of dirty work in the paint which you may not recognize like setting screens, boxing out and playing strong defense. It was always his task to defend the best scorers of the North team and he did a good job there. Offensively, he emerged in the last quarter where he hit two big baseline shots in the money time, one was a tough 3 pointer from the corner with 1.2 seconds on the clock to force the overtime after having seen his previous drive rejected badly. Ogbe needs to progress in his ballhandling as he is only 1m97 tall which limits him to play the PF spot in the future.
NBBL Stats: 21.4ppg (55.8% 2FG), 9.1rpg, 2.0spg
Niels Giffey (2m00 – Forward – 1991 – ALBA Berlin) is definitely back. After having missed several months because of a mononucleosis, the forward from ALBA Berlin showed in Bonn that he is still one of the most talented players in Germany. He can do it all, rebound, score and win games, even if the last did not happen yesterday. But it was him that had the big plays for the North just before the overtime with a huge three-point shot with Ogbe’s hand in his face from about 7.5 meters and 2 clutch free-throws made several seconds before the end of the regular time. His shot looks improved and he showed nice range throughout the game and can vary the outside-inside game pretty well. With his shooting improving, Giffey is on the right move and the long-time illness seems gone. He finished the game as top scorer with 22pts (8/11 FGs and 4/5 3FG) and 4rebs.
NBBL Stats: 13.6ppg (61.8% 2FG, 44.4% 3FG), 4.4rpg
Daniel Theis (2m05 – Center – 1992 – Braunschweig) came up with a very nice game in Bonn. The highly athletic and explosive center had several highlights in the game like a two handed slam over Neumann and Ogbe as well as an impressive rejection above backboard square height in the money time. He is very present in the paint with good work and he did a nice job on defending Neumann, giving him a hard time to score. Close to the basket, Theis tries to finish strong with the dunk and draws a lot of fouls with this presence. He is going hard for the rebound on both ends of the floor and showed also some correct skills for attacking the basket on the drive. The shot looks improvable but he can make the mid-range jumper correctly. He finished the game with 12pts, 8rebs and 2blks.
NBBL Stats: 18.7ppg (79% FG), 9.2rpg, 2.7bpg
About the Senior All-Star Game, there is not that much to say. Tim Ohlbrecht missed it with a last-minute illness and was not replaced. Robin Benzing did not see a lot of offensive opportunities as one of the Rookies in the game. And when the few attempts he got do not fall, it is hard to judge on what he did, especially in an All-Star Game. What can be said, is that he did quite a good job defending the smaller and more athletic forwards of the North and he had a very nice drive and dish in the beginning of the game. But it will be more interesting to come back on him once later in the season after having seen more of him in normal game action. Per Günther, Benzing’s team mate in Ulm, was voted into the Starting Five by the fans, but the small guard did look a bit lost among all the highly physical and athletic US born players around him. He did a correct job without a score tough but he is probably not the right player for an All-Star game as he is not particularly flashy or known for producing for the highlight reel.