02
Dez

David Pick - Teil 31

Before anyone complains that I left Bayern Munich out of this blog - let it be known that the deadline to file this piece was November 15, and while I was sending this into the BIG Magazine editorial staff @ 22:55PM, Bayern Munich were trailing 39-29 to Valencia in Espana.

This blog post zooms in on the German teams in the Euroleague and EuroCup. Next edition, when I digest the FIBA Champions League representatives, I’ll include a breakdown on the Bavarians’ Euroleague campaign thus far, and maybe try to compare Derrick Williams’ season as a Euro rookie to Greg Monroe’s.

In the meantime, let’s discuss ALBA Berlin’s dream-turned-nightmare season, ratiopharm ulm’s patience and upside with Killian Hayes, and EWE Baskets Oldenburg’s hot win streak. ENJOY

EuroLeague

I never recognized ALBA Berlin as a playoff contender. To say "I knew" they’d be tied for #14-18 would be an unfair statement, but to acknowledge that I had a feeling they're compete in the lower seedings was understandable. Be that as it may, I applaud ALBA more than any of the other 4th tier teams. Red Star Belgrade I mentioned in my previous blog are too old, Olympiacos not good enough, and Valencia simply not built for the Euroleague. Zenit can still make a run, but that's not hard to do with former Barcelona, Real Madrid, Lokomotiv Kuban and World Cup Bronze-medalist caliber players on your roster. Therefore, I want to declare ABLA as my ultimate rite underdogs this season.

The season thus far has been nothing short of wild. Maccabi Tel Aviv No.1? Fenerbahce 14? ASVEL 8? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?

As if that isn't enough, what began as a dream-like season with a big blowout W 85-65 over Zenit St. Petersburg, quickly turned into a nightmare. ALBA suffered back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back losses - in other words SIX loses in a row. Some of these were really ugly too: -13 vs CSKA, -14 vs Real Madrid, -19 vs Barcelona, and -24 vs Maccabi Tel Aviv.

ALBA was 1 possession away from changing the narrative on their season with a 106-105 L against Anadolu Efes in Round 2. Had they stole that game in Istanbul vs the Euroleague finalist, they would've been 2-0 and we might be talking about them at No.1 instead of Maccabi. But ALBA showed a lot of character and learned from these growing pains. They paid off just a short while ago as they stormed into the famed OAKA Arena in Athens and robbed Panathinaikos 106-105 (recognize the score?) in a double OT thriller. Big credit to ALBA, but a lot of that also has to do with Panathinaikos and the losing history the club has been experiencing in the modern era. The only thing left of the OAKA is its name, because the intimidation factor is long gone. For example, coming into Tel Aviv some weeks ago, ALBA started the game -10 already during warm ups. 11,000 fire yellow fans cheered the roof off in Tel Aviv and left Berlin 0 chances to compete in that game. Win or lose, Maccabi's fans have shown an everlasting support for their team. I can't say the same about Pao's supporters, as I'm seeing more and more empty seats than occupied ones with every game that goes by. SHAME.

ALBA needs to hang on during their upcoming sprint as Peyton Siva and Tyler Cavanaugh will miss the next home stretch vs Red Star, Olympiacos and Zalgiris. Cavanaugh, a Euroleague rookie, will be out for several months, but Siva is hopeful to return for the Zalgiris game. Stay tuned, I like they fight and grit.

Eurocup

It hasn't been the stellar campaign Thorsten Leibenath had envisioned for first-year coach Jaka Lakovic, while stepping away from the sidelines for the first time in a long time. But I can't say it completely blew everyone's mind otherwise. Ulm carved together a nice mixture of talent with a group of youngsters and veteran and all for a very reasonable budget without overspending.

The cornerstone of the team this season is 18-year-old Frenchman Killian Hayes, for better and for worse. Thus far it's been a huge success IMHO. Sure the kid is EuroCup Rookie, but essentially the Euro competition is not Ulm's bread and butter. In addition, I'm sure Mr. Leibenath is savvy enough to include a massive NBA buyout that will reimburse the club on Hayes' salary, the agent fee, and leave more than enough in Ulm's bank account going forward for better recruiting. Not to mention the NBA following Hayes draws to the club, and the opportunities to mingle with the world's greatest scouts and executives.

Let's digest Killian's pros and cons and Ulm's abilities - perhaps, maybe - to win another game before the EuroCup curtain is pulled down on their season.

Hayes arrived in the Bundesliga from Cholet in France, where he averaged 11.2 points, 6.4 dimes, 3 boards and 2.4 steals per game. He left his mark for sure as the biggest up and coming NBA prospect in the ProA = nowadays officially known as Jeep Elite. I doubt Ulm would've graced any other NBA prospect with the opportunity to put on their threads if he wasn't a PG. It's a natural click and cooperation with coach Lakovic. In case you've forgotten, Lakovic is as good a mentor and teacher as you can find. He's Euroleague Champion with FC Barcelona, and he was Igor Kokoshkov's lead assistant coach with the Slovenian National Team that won the Eurobasket gold medal with Luka Doncic and Goran Dragic. So it's safe to say "Jaka Laka" is most likely the best of the best when it comes to speaking from experience both on the floor and the sidelines.

Some might argue and say Zeljko Obradovic or Aleksandar Djordjevic could have a better influence on Hayes as legendary PGs, perhaps even Sarunas Jasikevicius. Let’s agree to disagree. There are two variables to factor into this decision - 1. Not everyone responds well to "tough love", and Jaka Lakovic clearly is the most calm and poised of them all. 2. Fenerbahce, Virtus Bologna and Zalgiris Kaunas didn't offer contracts. So it's not like the kid had much of a choice. Lol.

It's clear thus far that patience is key for Ulm's future. Hayes has a steep learning curve and the brutal rivalries in EuroCup will only make him better, learning from these growing pains. It isn't easy going up against Milos Teodosic, Stefan Markovic or Dee Bost (even though he knew the latter from Monaco). But it's a great experience for him to get that exposure and see the different kind of international defenses schemes and physicality.

NOT TO TAKE ANYTHING AWAY FROM HAYES, it didn't come as a surprise to me that his best game in the EuroCup came against Israeli side Maccabi Rishon LeZion. In this game a few weeks ago, Hayes recorded his best performance and put his upside on full display vs Guy Goodes (a former legendary Israeli PG himself) and Rishon's helpless guards. Maccabi has NO PG. Excuse me Nimrod Tishman, but the Israeli League is as far as it goes for you in terms of having any upside. Alex Hamilton is an adventurous guard, trapped in a situation where he is clearly uncomfortable with, having to run his own the team, instead of running the rival team out the gym. Essentially, Rishon's PG is Center Darryl Monroe, who orchestrates the offense from the high post. But that is no match for the young and vibrant Hayes.

The young pup scored 15 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, dished out 9 assists, and used his active hands to record 3 steals in the 103-89 victory at home. On the flip side, I mentioned patience right? He also committed 6 turnovers! Can you imagine Sarunas' reaction to witnessing his PG throw the ball away SIX times? Or Obradovic give him the recent “Fuck You. Fuck You Gigi Datome” speak? OMG LOL.

It seems like Hayes has a long way to go in terms of maturing his game and being more responsible with the basketball. He has the WORST turnover ratio in the entire EuroCup with 21 totals and 4.2 per contest. In the same breath, with the bad comes the good, and despite helping Rishon crawl its way back into the game, Hayes also signed off on silencing the Israeli opponent, sparking a huge 20-3 run to close the game.

It's no knock on Hayes, but Ulm recently brought in guard Isaiah Briscoe. Briscoe had a big season on a small team in the VTB League two seasons ago, and last year he spent time in Orlando with the Magic. He sees himself able to play PG-SG, but the honest truth is, Briscoe is a scorer with an unreliable outside shot, and he needs to clean up his reputation. He posted a good debut in an L vs Andorra with 19 points on 43% from beyond the arc, but for a self-claimed point guard to finish the game with a 1-5 assist-turnover ratio pretty much confirms he is everyone but a floor general.

At this time Ulm owns a 1-6 record in Group A, tied with Rishon for worst in the standings. With three games remaining, it's hard for me to see the Germans pulling a hail mary to advance to the next round. Greek side Promitheas are way stronger and have already advanced, but I've seen great miracles before so nothing would surprise me. French club Monaco are competing for a ticket to the next stage, so they're not about to hand over any victories. The closer being on the road, in Israel, vs Maccabi Rishon LeZion, with Ulm coming in holding a comfortable 14-point cushion from their previous meeting. However, the Israelis recently led by as many as 17-points vs Bologna in the 3Q before blowing another home game. So the big question remains - which team will end up being the best of the worst?!

EWE Baskets Oldenburg continue to done a fire home gym and great environment, supported by a good roster of players leaving 110% on the floor in most games. With a 4-3 record, it's clear that EWE is having a far more successful campaign in the EuroCup than Ulm.

The Germans share the same record as Galatasaray and despite beating the Turks at home, they remain at a disadvantage in the standings due to Gala's win in Istanbul, giving them a +6 lead in aggregate. However, it's not about where you start, but how you finish - and with EWE riding a hot 4-game win streak, heading into these final three games, I believe they can sneak into the next round.

Of the remaining games to close out the initial group stage, EWE will travel to Malaga in Espana, but it's the other two games that are fairly comfortable against the bottom ranked teams AT HOME vs Italian side Trento and recent Euroleague flameout Buducnost. My honest guess would be a 66% success rate that could secure them a ticket to the 2nd Round! GOOD LUCK.



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