"Defense of the title is first priority"
The press lounge of the Audi Dome was fully occupied, two dozen media representatives and several camera teams attended the opening press conference of the Bavarian basketball team for the 2018/2019 season. While on the court the team around Captain Danilo Barthel started the penultimate training session before the BBL start in Ulm on Friday 19:00 CEST. President Uli Hoeneß, Head Coach Dejan Radonjic and Managing Director Marko Pesic provided information about the sporting situation before the opening game of the German Champion in the arena in Neu-Ulm, which was already sold out with 6,100 spectators.
Here are the most important statements from:
. . . about his team and his first opponent:
"Of course we only had a few units together with all the players, the preparation was already difficult. The tournament in Zadar was very important for us because there were good things to see against two EuroLeague teams and the best Chinese, but also bad things that we will work on. We're going to do everything we can now to be prepared for the first game in the best possible way. We'll all have to be on the field together for that, and we'll certainly need some time."
"In my opinion Ulm is a very good team this year, they have strengthened themselves with individually strong, physical players. As always they are very offensive oriented, we have to adjust well to their transition on defense. We know that they have an excellent atmosphere in their own hall. But we look to ourselves and have the goal of always playing better than the day before. I think in a few weeks we'll be able to perform even better than we did today." .
. . . about the new season in the EuroLeague:
"I think we have enough players for it. That's why I think we can master this challenge. In my last season at Roter Stern we had 84 games. So I know what a challenge we have to face."
. . . on the prospects for the FCBB:
"I believe that basketball will finally establish itself in Munich. The fact that we won the championship and the cup was a great achievement on the part of the team and you could tell from the reactions of the audience. The enthusiasm in the last final match alone was unbelievable - that's how I imagine it. And now we've reached the goal that Marko and everyone worked towards: that we're part of the EuroLeague."
"I'm very curious to see how our team will cope with the new strain. So we have to get used to it first and get into the rhythm. But now we have a great perspective with the new hall, the whole club will work towards that until the middle of 2021. During this time we will be playing EuroLeague, so that's where things fit together. We also want to continue the way that basketball is clearly self-financed and that no minus is compensated by football as with other clubs. With the new hall there will be another jump. I have always felt at home in the Audi Dome, but with the new hall you have a new attraction in the city, with 10,-, 10,500 spectators, with business seats and boxes.".
. . . sporting expectations:
"One thing is clear: that we will play in the EuroLeague for at least three years - and I assume that this will also be the case afterwards. But we mustn't be so arrogant as to believe that FC Bayern will just mix up the EuroLeague. That won't be possible, we have to be a little humble about it from my point of view. After all, we're dealing with big basketball clubs that also put everything into the EuroLeague. Despite all the EuroLeague euphoria, we want to become German champions first and foremost.
. . . the importance of the BBL:
"We will never regard the other clubs and the BBL as accessories. When the EuroLeague approached us with the wildcard, it was immediately clear to us that the BBL also had to keep a licence. That's why two German clubs will be in the EuroLeague for the first time from the season after next; if we were to become champions, that's the second. FC Bayern insisted on that.
In general, we (the BBL) have made a lot of progress because we now have a long-term TV contract with Deutsche Telekom; the league has an agreement with SPORT1 that a top game will be played every Sunday at 3 pm. This is a very important indication that the league is becoming more and more professional. In the future everything will be a bit more orderly for the spectators. I think that's a great improvement."
. . . about the unknown EuroLeague:
"Sometimes the mood in the media seems to me to be that the EuroLeague is a punishment. And that's exactly where we wanted to go, because that's a challenge for us. Whether that means winning 15 games or eight, I can't say. Nevertheless, our top priority internally is to be able to defend the championship title, unlike in 2014. The players also know: Defending the title is our priority."
. . . the current guest Derrick Williams:
"Derrick flew directly to Zadar via Split at the end of last week because we wanted him to be with the team and get to know everything on the weekend. We're basically in agreement with him on the contract, but there are still some medical tests to be carried out. And that's not possible at the moment, an ECG under full load, for example, because Derrick came from the USA with an infection. We'll probably make up for that in the course of the week. But first he has to heal himself. If everything's ok then he's our player."
. . . the size of the squad:
"If Williams stays, our squad will be complete. We invest so many resources in the youth area, so we have to open the door for players like Nelson Weidemann to get a chance. That's very, very important for us."
. . . the challengers of the champions:
"It's the same again: Alba Berlin has achieved something they didn't achieve in the years before, namely - like us - to keep the important players, the scaffolding of the team. That's especially important now, after a preparation in which the national players weren't there for a long time. Berlin will certainly attack and not be ok with just reaching the semi-finals. Bamberg, too, will certainly have a better season than last season, they have put together a really good squad. Oldenburg has no international burden, that can be an advantage, also Würzburg and as always Frankfurt will be unpleasant. But as always it depends on us: If we control our performance, we have good chances".
Friday, 28th September, 19:00 CEST: ratiopharm Ulm - FCBB (1st matchday easyCredit BBL)
Wednesday, 3rd October, 15 CEST: FCBB - Rasta Vechta (2nd matchday)
Sunday, 7th October, 15:00 CEST: FCBB - Giessen 46ers (cup round of 16)
Thursday, 11th October, 20:30 CEST: FCBB - Efes Istanbul (1st matchday Euroleague)
Sunday, 14th October, 15:00 CEST: Löwen Braunschweig - FCBB (3rd matchday BBL)
Tuesday, 16th October, 20:30 CEST: FCBB - Panathinaikos Athens (2nd matchday EuroLeague)
Thursday, 18th October, 21:00 CEST: FC Barcelona - FCBB (3rd matchday EuroLeague)
Sunday, October 21, 18:00 CEST: FCBB - Telekom Baskets Bonn (4th matchday BBL)