The desperate search for another German Beko BBL title goes on for ALBA BERLIN as the eight-time league champions brought back former playing great Sasa Obradovic as their head coach for the 2012-13 season.
The former world and European champion is Alba’s third coach since Berlin’s last title in 2008 under the guidance of Luka Pavicevic, who was succeeded in 2011 by Muli Katzurin and last season by Gordon Herbert.
Berlin decided against picking up their option for Herbert for a second season after Berlin were surprised in the first round of the playoffs by promoted side s.Oliver Baskets.
“I understand the situation and respect (Alba CEO) Marco Baldi and the club’s decision,” Herbert told the German sports news portal sport1.
“But I did sign a contract for two years and accordingly I had hoped to work that long. But you also need certain results in the first season and we could not accomplish that.”
“The decision (not to keep Herbert) was not easy for us. But in the end we are convinced that Sasa can give us the right impulse to get the most out of our possibilities. In addition to his quality as a head coach, he personifies our motto ‘With body and soul for Berlin’,” said Baldi on the club’s website.
Obradovic returns to the German capital after two seasons with Ukrainian team BC Donetsk, whom the 43-year-old Belgrade native guided to the domestic title and the quarterfinals of the EuroCup.
“I had a very good situation in Donetsk which I wouldn’t have given up for just anything. But a call from Alba changes everything,” said Obradovic, who signed a two-year deal with Berlin.
“I am so excited about coming back to my past. I love this club, the fans and the city.”
Obradovic is a 1998 world champion, 1996 Olympic silver medalist and 1997 and 2001 European champion with Yugoslavia. The point guard also has a storied history with Berlin, playing in the German capital from 1994 to 1997.
Alba fans will forever have a spot in their hearts for Obradovic as he guided Berlin to the 1995 Korac Cup, scoring 34 points in the first leg of the final against Stefanel Milano. His stay in Berlin also included the league and cup crowns in 1997 – Alba’s first titles in Germany.
Obradovic played his final professional season in Cologne in 2005 after which he took over as the club’s head coach and guided RheinEnergie Cologne to the 2006 German league crown and the 2007 German Cup during his three seasons in Cologne.
He has spent the past four seasons in Ukraine and Poland.
“Alba definitely belong among the top four. Otherwise I will keep my mouth shut. I believe in hard work and would rather show things on the court,” Obradovic told the Berlin daily BZ.
And he talked of Berlin’s chances of winning a ninth title, telling the Tagesspiegel: “The chances for the title are lower than during the time when I was a player in Berlin. Back then we had the best organization, the biggest budget. That has changed. But I am certain that Alba will come back.”
Obradovic says his Berlin team will show their emotions and play aggressively on offense and defense, not afraid to take risks.
“Many people are expecting a lot from me. But I am putting the most pressure on myself,” said Obradovic, who currently has three players under contract for next season – Yassin Idbihi, DaShaun Wood, Joey Ney and Heiko Schaffartzik.
The German international point guard Schaffartzik will return to Berlin for two seasons, a fact which definitely pleases new coach Obradovic.
“I am happy that Heiko is staying with Alba. It’s an important contract extension for us. I know Heiko well and know how I can play him. He will help the team a lot with his playing style and his passion. And my experience as point guard will give him extra help in develoing his game,” said Obradovic.
“I am really happy that is worked out for another two years with Alba. I still means a lot to me to play for my home city,” said Schaffartzik.
“Even though there were other financially interesting offers, Alba was always the first option for me.”
Boone, Jacobson, Little return to Würzburg
s.Oliver Baskets tumultuous end of the season received some major certainty as three of the leaders of Würzburg’s magical run to the Beko BBL semifinals in their promoted season re-signed with the club.
Captain Ben Jacobsen, Jason Boone and John Little all agreed to two-year contracts with Würzburg.
“Of course we are extremely happy that we could keep Ben, Jason and John with us for two more years despite good offers from other clubs,” said s.Oliver Baskets general manager Jochen Bähr.
“These three brought to Würzburg the irrepressible commitment and fighting spirit which they showed all season and infected the other players with it. That’s why the contract extensions with them was our top priority.”
Together with Alex King, that means four-fifths of the starting lineup is returning to Würzburg, who are still left without a head coach after John Patrick was fired surprisingly after one season. U20 German international Maximilian Kleber also has a deal for the 2012-13 season with Würzburg.
“After the successful season last year with the semifinals, we want to have some consistency in the squad. These guys are the foundation of our team. They played into the hearts of our fans with their attitude. Our strength was our team chemistry. And we are counting on that in the future as well,” added Bähr.
The Würzburg Main Post meanwhile reported on the head coach opening, writing: “The rumors are increasing that previous assistant coach Marcel Schröder would move up to head coach. The Baskets did not want to comment on that but did say the question regarding Patrick’s successor will be answered by mid-June.”
Giessen remain in BBL with wild card
The 18-team BBL field is once again complete as the heads of the league decided to award LTi Giessen 46ers a wild card for the 2012-13 season.
Giessen, who finished 17th in the BBL and were relegated, beat out Gloria Giants Düsseldorf for the wild card.
The 2012-13 season tips off on October 3.
Bamberg want to play some Euroleague games in Nuremberg
Brose Baskets Bamberg general manager Wolfgang Heyder said the club is considering playing some of their Euroleague matches in nearby Nuremberg.
“Nuremberg is definitely an idea. For me it’s important that we are present in the region. And the Euroleague will soon require a minimum capacity of 9,000 and the Stechert Arena is too small,” Heyder told the Nuremberg Abendzeitung.
Alexander Lollis, GM of the Nürnberger BC club, is thrilled with the idea of having Bamberg play Euroleague games at the Arena Nürnberger Versicherung – like they did during the 2005-06 season when they reached the Top 16.
“I think it makes sense,” Lollis told the Nuremberg daily. “That way we can develop the sport here together. We want to have a good relationship with the premium brand Brose Baskets.”
Ulm not certain about Euroleague participation
German Beko BBL side ratiopharm ulm admitted that they are not certain at the moment if they will take part in the Euroleague next season – despite the news that the German league champions and runners-up will both be in the competition.
The Euroleague confirmed that the German champs will receive a berth in the EL Regular Season while the finalists are guaranteed a spot in the EL qualification – meaning a second German team does not have to worry about being granted a wild card.
Despite the lure of Europe’s biggest club competition, ulm personnel could not guarantee they will play in the Euroleague in 2012-13 due to the increased financial burden for the club.
Not only would the roster need to be deepened due to the increased sporting challenge but travel costs will also accrue. In addition, it’s unclear how the Ulm spectators will take to the Euroleague.
“At the moment we cannot yet say if we will participate in the Euroleague,” Ulm’s finances manager Andreas Oettel told SWP.
Oettel is waiting for a positive signal from the club’s sponsors, but he can hardly imagine the club will say no to the EL since it’s a great chance for the team to compete against the best in Europe.