21 - 24
September 2023
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Meet the team: Bonn out to defend Europe's honor in Singapore

SINGAPORE (Singapore) - European teams have won five of the last six editions of the FIBA Intercontinental Cup and so tradition almost dictates that Basketball Champions League winners Telekom Baskets Bonn fly out to Singapore to try to make it six out of seven.

Who are they?

For years, Telekom Baskets Bonn were dubbed the unlucky club of Germany.  They reached the Final of the German League six times between 1996 and 2023 but lost all six series, also adding three German Cup Finals losses to the mix for good measure..

However, it seems that Bonn finally lifted the curse last season, by going all the way at the Final Four in Malaga. Telekom Baskets Bonn won the Basketball Champions League crown, sweeping the league awards too, with former coach Tuomas Iisalo named the Best Coach both in the German League and the BCL, and their star point guard, TJ Shorts, winning the season MVP award in both competitions.

Bonn are a club with a strong local following, and in 2008, they became the first club in Germany to build their club-owned arena, the Telekom Dome. It's capacity stands at 6,000 and on most game days it's packed to the rafters.

How did they get here?

The Basketball Champions League was established in 2016, and Spanish teams Hereda San Pablo Burgos and Lenovo Tenerife dominated the competition from 2020 onward. With the Final Four held in Malaga in 2023, it looked like we could be in for another fiesta, but Bonn had other ideas.

They stormed through the Regular Season with a 5-1 record, then swept their Round of 16 group on a perfect 6-0. It took a tie-breaking Game 3 in the Quarter-Finals to defeat SIG Strasbourg from France and their book Final Four tickets, but once Bonn got there, they were determined to leave with the trophy in their hands.

First, the German side stunned hosts Unicaja in front of 11,000 fans in the Semi-Final, and then they put on their trademark defensive performance to keep Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem from Israel at bay in the title game.

It was the first time that a German club won the BCL.

Why should we watch them?

They went through a complete rebuild of the BCL championship-winning squad, and handed over the reins to coach Roel Moors. The Belgian playcaller already has the team clicking to his coaching method which always puts the team effort first, so don't be surprised if there are five or six men scoring in double figures.

Glynn Watson could be the biggest scoring threat in the backcourt, coming off a productive season in Lithuania with CBet Jonava. Savion Flagg looks like a perfect role player in modern basketball, averaging 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game with Lavrio in Greece last season, and a big recruiting job was done in getting Brian Fobbs to sign with Bonn.

Fobbs was named the BNXT League 2022-23 season MVP, in Belgium and  the Netherlands, after putting together 20.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game on 54 percent shooting from the field, 35 percent from three-point range and 90 percent  from the free-throw line.

The return of Florian Koch will be interesting to see, as he is a man straight out of Bonn, a hometown hero, who spent the first six years of his career at Telekom Baskets Bonn before embarking on a six-year-long adventure elsewhere.

Christian Sengfelder is a part time German national team member who will help under the rims, same as Ike Udanoh, the 34-year-old American-Nigerian big guy who spent the last two seasons in France.

Who will they play in Singapore?

On Thursday, September 21, Telekom Baskets Bonn take on FIBA WASL champs Al Manama in the premiere, and after a day's break they will be back in action against the Zhejiang Golden Bulls on Saturday.

The winner of Group B will move to the Final, the second-placed team will fight for the third step of the podium against the runner-up from Group A, while the third-placed team will battle for fifth spot in the tournament against the third-placed team in Group A.