Basketball is back! Germany’s easyCredit BBL will be the first European basketball league to return to action since the outbreak of Covid-19 – with BG Göttingen taking on the surprise team of the league this season HAKRO Merlins Crailsheim in the opening game on June 6 at 4:30pm in Munich.

Here is a look at all the information you need to know.

10 teams said: “Let’s do this”

When the league was thinking about continuing the 2019-20 season all 17 clubs were asked if they would like to take part in the conclusion of the season and 10 teams – ALBA BERLIN, BG Göttingen, Brose Bamberg, EWE Baskets Oldenburg, FC Bayern Munich, FRAPORT SKYLINERS, HAKRO Merlins Crailsheim, MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg, RASTA Vechta and ratiopharm ulm – said yes while the other seven – Basketball Löwen Braunschweig, Hamburg Towers, JobStairs GIESSEN 46ers, medi bayreuth, s.Oliver Würzburg, SYNTAINICS MBC and Telekom Baskets Bonn – declined the invitation. The German league at the announcement of the tournament also announced that no team would be relegated to the ProA. The German basketball leaders came up with a 10-team tournament with all the teams in one location over the course of the entire event. Berlin, Bonn, Frankfurt and Munich all bid to host the tournament but the league choose Munich and the Audi Dome.

Two groups and then two-leg playoffs

The ten teams were broken down into two groups according to their placing in the standings at the time of the suspension of the season in March. Group A consists of FC Bayern Munich (1st place, 19-2), HAKRO Merlins Crailsheim (4th, 15-6), EWE Baskets Oldenburg (5th, 13-7), BG Göttingen (8th, 11-10) and ratiopharm ulm (9th, 10-10) while Group B has MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg (2nd, 17-4) ALBA BERLIN (2nd, 14-5), RASTA Vechta (6th, 12-9), Brose Bamberg (7th, 12-9) and FRAPORT SKYLINERS (10th, 6-15).
There will be two games a day – 4:30 pm and 8:30 pm – and all the teams will play the other teams in their groups. The two fifth-placed teams will play a single game on June 16 for ninth place with the other four teams playing crossover Quarter-Finals – meaning the first placed team from Group A will play the fourth-place Group B finisher and so on. The Quarter-Finals will be played over two legs from June 17 to June 20 with the aggregate score winner advancing. The Semi-Finals will be played from June 21 to June 24 – also over two legs with the aggregate score winner moving on. The Finals will take place on June 26 and June 28 with the aggregate score winner claiming the title as 2019-20 easyCredit BBL league champions.

Three weeks together – collective quarantine

All teams can register up to 22 individuals to travel to Munich for the event and all of those team members – players, coaches, staff, officials – will be tested upon their arrival in Munich and then quarantined together in a single hotel for the duration of the tournament. Along with them will be German BBL league officials and staff, the referees and broadcast workers. That group of people will be remain in the bubble of hotel or arena to limit any contact from outside individuals to lower the chance of spreading Covid-19.

Jogs allowed – but no family, and no shopping

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In order to limit “cabin fever”, players and staff will be allowed to leave the hotel in groups of up to three people – also to take a jog or a walk. But they are prohibited from contact with any outsiders and are not to go to any shops or stores. This was expressly noted in the hygiene concept after Heiko Herrlich, the head coach of the German football league Augsburg was not allowed to attend the first match after the re-start of the league after he broke the quarantine rules by going to a grocery shop to buy toothpaste and skin cream. The players are not allowed to visit any family members during this time outside the hotel.

Interviews/press conferences on YouTube

The MagentaSport broadcasts will include interviews with players but there will not be any other interviews allowed at Audi Dome during the tournament. The post-game press conferences will take place in the hotel shortly after the game and questions can be sent to the league to possibly be asked during the press conferences, which will be live-streamed on the league’s YouTube channel.

Regular testing – showers in hotel

As part of the league’s extensive hygiene concept, regular testing will take place in intervals ranging from every two to five days. Upon arrival at the arena, teams will be tested for symptoms – checking for fever, for example. Hand disinfectant dispensers have been installed throughout the hotel, the Audi Dome and the training facility to make sure all players and staff keep their hands clean. The plan also prohibits all players and referees from showering in the arena. Instead they must shower back in the hotel.

Distance between “active” and “passive” participants

All individuals participating in the tournament will be broken down into two groups: “active” and “passive”. Players, coaches and referees are the main members of the “active” community. The “passive” group includes table officials, league representatives and media/broadcast members. Interaction between the two groups will be limited as much as possible to help from any spread of the virus.

In case of a positive test …

One of the main questions many fans or observers have is what happens if someone tests positive for Covid-19. In the case of a positive test result, that individual will be immediately isolated and quarantined and those responsible will track his or her actions to determine which others within the bubble should be tested.

No handshakes, mascots or cheerleaders – but good audio from huddles

The games not only will be played without fans but there will be a lot more missing from the basketball product fans know – either from being live on site or from television. According to the hygiene concept, the teams will not have their usual pre-game handshake. There will not be any mascots in the arena and the games will be played without cheerleaders – as the organizers try to limit the number of people onsite to the absolute minimum. Fans watching on television will however most likely get better-than-ever-before audio coverage of the teams’ huddles as microphones near the bench will be installed before the tournament starts and will not be manually operated. It’s unclear if there will be music played during breaks in the games but fans should be able to hear the huddles pretty good.


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