Today have been played the last games of the Last-16 round of the German NBBL League Play-offs. Let’s take a look at the results of the round and check which teams have now the best chances to advance to the Top4 in Bamberg on the 15+16th May.
ALBA Berlin – Bayer Leverkusen
The defending champions from Berlin had not much trouble to defeat the LTi 46ers from Giessen in two games. After a disputed opener in Berlin, ALBA traveled to Giessen and had some problems to overcome a local team that saw their last chances to stay alive. However, the absence of starting PG Falko Theilig was certainly one of the reasons as Berlin took the decisive lead and win when they switched in defense to a full-court zone press that caused a lot of turnovers. The team from Berlin is certainly among the deepest in the whole NBBL as Henrik Rödl can use 10-12 players in his rotation when needed. With Niels Giffey, they have the leader to make the difference in the crucial situations. The lack of a dominating Center may however become a problem if they face Breitengüssbach and Philipp Neumann in the Top4.
Bayer Leverkusen qualified in one of the two series that went to a game three in the North. The team around Mathis Mönninghoff dominated the decisive game against Braunschweig that had to play without their All-Star Daniel Theis who missed the contest because of an injury. Without their athletic inside player, Braunschweig was unable to stop Leverkusen who displayed once again their multitude of offensive options with five players above 9 pts in the decisive game. Martin Breunig confirmed his status as one of players that have shown the most progress over the season as the 2m01 tall forward averaged 14.0ppg 9.3rpg and 2.0bpg over the series. With those performance, he could support Mönninghoff who did not show all of his potential so far in terms of statistical contribution. It will be tough though for the only team that has a female coaching staff (Katrin Hering as head coach and Nadine Homann as assistant) to beat the defending champions from Berlin.
EP.com Prediction: ALBA Berlin – Bayer Leverkusen 2-0
Paderborn Baskets – Eisbären Bremerhaven
The finalists from last year have qualified in extremis for this quarter-final as they needed all three games and even an overtime in the decisive match to reach the next round. Without their Starting PG Ole Wendt, Paderborn managed to beat Central Hoops 65-62 this Sunday afternoon and will face now the strong Bremerhaven team. Lars Wendt tried everything, he shot 4/18 3s in just the last game but it was Eike Sünkeler who decided the game in the overtime with his only bucket of the game and a few important offensive rebounds. Now Paderborn hopes to get Ole Wendt but also Martin Schmeling back for the games against Bremerhaven which will be on a different level. The absence of serious inside options will probably handicap them and Artur Gacaev’s team needs big games from its backcourt and the all-around talent of Dominik Malinowski to qualify again for the Top4.
Bremerhaven did not have much problems to beat Phoenix Hagen as the two games were pretty large wins. The team from the North is loaded with several National team players and they have some inside presence which can help them to beat Paderborn and qualify for the semi-finals. Bill Borekambi is playing an excellent season and he gets the support of Sadam Eco and Anthony Canty while the bench gives them some additional options. In the current situation, I would consider Bremerhaven as the favorite to advance despite not having the court advantage versus Paderborn.
EP.com Prediction: Paderborn Baskets – Eisbären Bremerhaven 1-2
ALBA Urspring – BBA Ludwigsburg
Urspring had not much trouble to pass against the young team of Jena as the convent school pupils won both of their games with more than 14 points. It was especially 1993 born PF Julius Wolf who stepped up big time with 23+8 and 31+7 in the two games after averaging only 9.0ppg and 5.1rpg over the season. He also netted 7 out of his 12 three point shot attempts over the series. Wolf is a member of the German U17 National Team and probably one of their leaders at the upcoming Albert Schweitzer Tournament. What is a good thing for Urspring too is that Kevin Bright seems to recover finally from his different injuries as he showed some promising games in the series. One of the key players for the Quarterfinals will however be Felix Engel, the guard coming from Braunschweig originally. He will have the role not only to run the team but stop the strong back-court of BBA Ludwigsburg.
BBA Ludwigsburg took the chance that they got offered by beating ASC Theresianum Mainz. The team from the Rhineland-Palatinate capital missed their go-to-guy Patrick Heckmann because of an injury. The destiny was not in the favor of ASC as Heckmann missed just these two games so that the whole regular season was more or less obsolete. Heckmann is now back on the court but his team is out, he will certainly re-attack next season. Despite the absence of Besnik Bekteshi in the first game, Ludwigsburg managed to win the opener on the road. Back home, Ludwigsburg found also their leader Besnik Bekteshi back and behind the 24pts and 8rebs of the 1993 born player, the team from the South qualified for the Quarter-finals where they will face Urspring. Ludwigsburg was the only team that defeated the multiple NBBL champion this season so far, so that the motivation will be big to go again for such an exploit. However, Urspring is extremely motivated to show who is the dominating force in the South as the loss against Ludwigsburg had a particular bitter taste for them.
EP.com Prediction: Urspring – Ludwigsburg 2-1
TSV Breitengüssbach – Franken Hexer
Franken Hexer, the farm team of the Nürnberg Basketball Club, managed to beat the Basket-College Rhein-Neckar 2-0 in a disputed Best of Three series as the decisive game was only decided 4 seconds before the end. While the Hexer overcame BCRN in the first game pretty easily behind the scoring of Dennis Ogbe and Daniel Stawowski, the second game was a lot closer as the team based in the Rhine-Neckar region brought Danilo Barthel who normally plays for the ProA team of USC Heidelberg. But even with him, BCRN could not beat a Franken Hexer squad that was once again led by Dennis Ogbe (23pts 11rebs 2asts 2stls) and Daniel Stawowski (16pts 5rebs 3stls). Ogbe was the player of the day as the forward netted the game winning three point shot from the left corner (similar to the shot he nailed in the NBBL All-Star game to force the overtime) 4 seconds before the end of the regular time. The Nürnberg based squad will now face in highly anticipated regional derby Breitengüssbach (70km of distance between both locations).
TSV Tröster Breitengüssbach showed right from the start that they are among the top favorites for the NBBL crown. The farm team of Brose Baskets features with Philipp Neumann one of the best players in Europe born in 1992. The inside player displays a talent level unmatched in the NBBL at the moment and the 2m06 tall player had an amazing statistical performance in the opener as he made 17pts (7/8 FGs), grabbed 17rebs, dished out 7asts and blocked 4 shots in just 26 minutes on the court. Playing without him, Breitengüssbach had not that much trouble to qualify with the 2nd game as Jörg Dippold stepped up with 20pts and Niklas Jungbauer did his homework with 18pts and 16rebs. With Neumann back on board after his small finger injury, Breitengüssbach should be able to qualify without too much trouble against Franken Hexer.
EP.com Prediction: Breitengüssbach – Franken Hexer 2-1
The Quarterfinals will be played the 18th and 25th April with a potential decisive game on the 2nd of May.