Promoted German BBL side Bayern Munich have a chance to prove their mettle in Europe next season as the European basketball ruling body ULEB has granted the emerging German powerhouse a wild card for the 2011-12 Eurocup season.
Could this also be the deciding factor in favor in getting Dirk Nowitzki to play for Bayern in the case of an NBA lockout? The Dallas Mavericks star would likely want to play internationally if he does in fact play in Europe next season.
ULEB basketball officials clearly recognized the magnitude of the top flight program Bayern Munich have put together in just over a year since club members voted in favor of investing time and money in the basketball department of the four-time European football champions.
“After plenty of thought and consideration and talks with the BBL, we decided to accept the offer for us to play in the Eurocup. We thanks those responsible with the Euroleague for the consideration and we are looking forward to along with our fans exciting games with high level international opponents,” said Bayern sports director Marko Pesic.
Bayern Munich, who earned promotion by losing just two games last season in the German second division ProA, are one of the 10 teams already qualified for the Eurocup Regular Season. The remaining 22 teams will be made up of 14 teams dropping from the Euroleague qualifying round and eight from the Eurocup qualification round.
Bayern will undoubtedly have a roster that could possibly challenge in the Eurocup. In addition to the German internationals Steffen Hamann, Demond Greene and Bastian Doreth as well as Jonathan Wallace and Aleksandar Nadjfeji, Munich head coach Dirk Bauermann has already brought in Philipp Schwethelm and Big East Conference Player of the Year Ben Hansbrough – the undrafted younger brother of NBA power forward Tyler Hansbrough.
German international Robin Benzing’s contract with ratiopharm Ulm has expired and Bayern are considered the leading challengers to bring in the small forward.
Another name rumored with Munich is former Real Madrid center D’or Fischer as the TZ Munich daily said Bayern could be close to bringing the American big man in. One issue could be Fischer’s salary, about 900,000 euro per year.
The biggest name connected to Bayern for months has been Dirk Nowitzki, who could be eligible to play in Europe if the NBA continues its lockout and cannot come to an agreement with their players.
The three clubs most likely to go strong after Nowitzki are Bayern Munich, Alba Berlin and two-time defending champions Brose Baskets Bamberg. Bamberg and Alba both have the advantage of playing in the Euroleague (Alba are in the qualifying round), an attraction which Bayern – as promoted team – could not offer. Now they can, another reason Nowitzki could choose Munich if he decides to play in Germany.
With Bayern playing in the Eurocup, that means eight of the 18 teams in the BBL are playing internationally this season. Bamberg and Alba (wild card for qualifying) are in the Euroleague; Fraport Frankfurt Skyliners and Artland Dragons both are in the Eurocup competition; and EWE Baskets Oldenburg, BG Göttingen and Telekom Baskets Bonn all will play in the EuroChallenge.