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  • Writer's pictureMāris Noviks

Freak City checks in: welcome, Bamberg Baskets!

Bamberg Baskets is the first club from Germany to play in the European North Basketball league.

Germany is the nineteenth country in a competition after Slovakia and Norway joined earlier in 2024.

Eight teams from seven countries – Czechia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus and Russia – entered the league in 2021.

Teams from Israel, Ukraine and Kosovo joined in 2022.

Denmark, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Romania and Belgium tasted first action in 2023.

Germany has a biggest market in Europe with a population of 83 million.

Basketball is booming on a club and national team level.

Country hosted the first Olympic basketball tournament for Men in 1936 on the tennis courts outside capital Berlin.

Germany men`s team won the EuroBasket 1993.

Thirty years later Germans were crowned the World Champions for the first time.

Both national teams – men and women – will play at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Women`s team qualified to the Olympics for the first time.

Germany will be one of the four host countries for the Women`s EuroBasket 2025 – with Hamburg as a host city along Brno, Bologna and Athens.

Women`s World Cup will take place in Berlin a year later – with games played at the Max Schmeling Halle (capacity 8500) and Uber arena (14 500).

Bamberg Baskets played a big part in these developments.

The first basketball club in Bamberg was founded in 1955 and played its first regular season in the “Bezirksliga” a year later.

In 1970 the Bavarians made it to the Bundesliga for the first time and now Bamberg`s basketball teams have been playing in the first league since 1982.

It took 37 years of work to bring the first national title to Freak City in 1992 with a cup victory.

The first German championship followed 13 years later in 2005.

European adventures started in 1994 when team debuted in the FIBA Korač Cup.

Bamberg played in ULEB competions from 2004 until 2018 and has nine Euroleague seasons under its belt (2005-2006, 2007-2008, 2010-2014, 2015-2018).

Freak City won nine German championships during that era (2005, 2007, 2010-2013, 2015-2017).

The trophy case includes six German Cups (1992, 2010-2012, 2017, 2019).

Bamberg was coached by Dirk Bauermann (2001-2008), Chris Fleming (2008-2014) and Andrea Trinchieri (2014-2018).

Big Three was followed by Latvian national team coaches Luca Banchi and Ainars Bagatskis – the former was recognized as the best coach at the 2023 FIBA World Cup while the latter coached CSU Voluntari at the 2024 ENBL final.

Current head coach Anton Gavel signed a three year contract with the club on March 27, 2024.

Gavel was born in Košice, then Czechoslovakia, and started to play in Germany when he was 17 years old.

He won four German championships and three German Cups during his five year stint in Freak City as a player (2009-2014).

Gavel called it a day after winning another German title with Bayern Munich in 2018.

He worked as a head coach in the ratiopharm Ulm system from 2019 until 2024 – first in Orange Academy and then in Ulm itself.

Ulm became the lowest seeded team to win the German championship in 2023.

Bamberg`s long list of star players include such names as Holger Geschwindner (1977-1979, 1983-1987, coach and mentor of the 2011 NBA champion Dirk Nowitzki), Steffen Hamann (1998-2006, 2007-2008), two time Euroleague champion Tibor Pleiss (2009-2012) and world champion Daniel Theis (2014-2017).

Team played in the Basketball Champions league after and made it to the 2019 Final Four in Antwerp along Virtus Bologna, Tenerife and the hosts.

Brose arena, the third largest multi-functional indoor arena in Bavaria, is the home of the Bamberg Baskets from 2001.

Bundesliga has seven arenas with a capacity of 6000 and more – Bamberg, Berlin, Bonn, Braunschweig, Munich, Oldenburg and Ulm.

Bamberg is located approximately 200 kilometres east of Frankfurt on Main and 200 kilometres north of Munich.


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