Bayern Munich showed they are in it to win it as the emerging German basketball powers have added three top-notch players in Sharrod Ford, Je’Kel Foster and Robin Benzing while securing Audi and a number of big time sponsors for the up-coming season.
As rumored for weeks, Bayern announced at a press conference on Thursday the signing of German international small forward Benzing. But Bayern coach Dirk Bauermann and club president Uli Hoeness also confirmed the acquisition of two veteran Americans who know the Bundesliga and have had success in Germany.
The 6-foot-9 power forward/center Ford comes to Munich having played 1.5 seasons with Alba Berlin and winning the German Cup in 2006 and finishing the regular season as the top team in both 2006 and 2007 and reaching the finals in 2006.
Ford, a 29-year-old from Washington, D.C., has played the last four seasons in Italy, reaching the final of the Italian Cup in 2009 and winning the EuroChallenge in 2009 with Bologna. He signed a one-year contract with Bayern.
“Sharrod has the skills of a center that are very important for us. His aggressive and versatility at both ends of the court are an absolutely improvement for our team,” said Bayern personnel director Marko Pesic.
Foster, who turns 28 on Friday, will be looking to lead a second team to the BBL team after guiding EWE Baskets Oldenburg to the crown in 2009 and then finishing the regular season in 2010 with the best record before losing in the first round of the playoffs to Braunschweig.
The 6-foot-3 guard Foster played last season in Italy for Vanoli-Braga Cremona and agreed to a two-year deal with Munich.
“Along with Ben Hansbrough, Je’Kel was our desired candidate at the guard position from early on. Between him and our current players we now have depth of quality and experience at both guard spots,” said Pesic.
“Je’Kel has especially proven in the Bundesliga that he can handle different roles within a team. Therefore we are happy that he decided to join the project.”
Benzing arrives in Munich after two seasons with ratiopharm Ulm, averaging 15.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game last season. The 22-year-old 6-foot-10 small forward has played a major role in the German national team at both the 2009 EuroBasket and the 2010 World Championship – both coached by Bayern coach Dirk Bauermann.
“I am very happy about my new task with Bayern Munich. The team is made up of many well-known faces, an excellent coach and a professional environment. What was especially interesting was that such a project like this exists nowhere else,” said Benzing.
With that trio of new players, Bayern have finalized their squad for the up-coming 2011-12 season in the BBL and the Eurocup.
Remaining with the team are Steffen Hamann, Demond Greene, Jonathan Wallace, Aleksandr Nadjfeji, Darius Hall, Bastian Doreth and Bogdan Radosavljevic. The other new additions are Jan Jagla, Philipp Schwethelm and Ben Hansbrough.
Bayern also used the opportunity Thursday to announce the re-naming of the Rudi Sedlmayer Halle to the Audi Dome.
Automobile makers Audi have signed a contract with Bayern basketball until 2016 and the club announced that the main sponsor will be Flyeralarm. Other premium partners include DAB Bank, Deutsche Post, MAN, Telekom and Käfer Feinkost.