Tue, 27/09/22, 13:59
"This team will take some time"
The Bayern Basketball team is ready to go - on Saturday (Oct. 1, 18:00), the EuroLeague quarterfinalist will kick off their 2022/2023 season with a BBL home game against Ulm at the Audi Dome. For general manager Marko Pesic (45) it is the twelfth season with the FCBB and the one after the "most complicated season I have ever experienced. Before the start, the former national player gave us an insight into what has happened in the summer and what fans can expect from Saturday.
Marko, just under two weeks ago, the national team celebrated winning European Championship bronze with Andi and Nick. Can this euphoria be transported to the BBL games?
Marko Pesic: "I'm already hoping for a positive impact after this European Championship performance by the German team. You have seen how basketball in Germany, including the media, has moved closer together. I think that's a very good sign and proof of the potential basketball has in Germany. The national players, the entire team and the coaches have done a lot for German basketball with this European Championship. Now it is up to the BBL to develop a concept on how we can continue to ride this wave. Because the commitment of the clubs and the national team will not be enough."
"Core of ten players"
What are your expectations for the new season?
"We have had a difficult preparation and not only because we were missing four European Championship players who are key players in the backcourt. Isaac Bonga hasn't even been able to train with the team yet, and it's not yet clear exactly when he'll be back. So we haven't even been able to train with the full squad yet, which means that this team will certainly need some time to settle in - and that's why it's all the more important that we've managed to keep ten players from last season's squad."
Ten returning players is a lot for basketball . . .
" . . . yes, but that was the idea this summer; not only because they are good players and they fit into a concept but because we knew that the European Championship would last quite a long time and that most of our players would stay in the tournament for a long time. The fact that we were able to keep this strong core of ten players enabled us to bring in two fresh, young players in Winston and Gillespie, who will be playing in Europe and the EuroLeague for the first time; Bonga is also still very young at 22.
So we have improved in our athleticism and in the area of speed, plus the depth of the squad has increased. I think we are in a position to play faster. Because this triangle of new players alone with Winston, Bonga and Gillespie is all about speed, athleticism and also playmaking. But you still have to give the team a bit of time because of the complicated training, especially in the first part of the season, even though we'll have three top-class opponents in the Audi Dome right at the start. Nevertheless, we definitely want to win at home - but for that we need the support of the fans, especially in the EuroLeague."
"The goal is to be in contention for the playoffs".
In the Euroleague, many teams have upgraded considerably, how strong is the EuroLeague 22/23?
"It's the same every year: Great players are constantly being brought in everywhere. It's often the familiar faces, with a few exceptions. But overall, an incredible amount of money is spent and you get the feeling as if there had been no pandemic and as if the war didn't exist either. That can't be helped. But we are confident enough to be able to use our experience of the last two years in such a way that we can take advantage of an opportunity that is guaranteed to present itself again. Are the playoffs possible? They are possible, but we don't want to talk about that at all. We've made them two years in a row now, and it wouldn't be a drama if we didn't make it once. But our goal is clearly to get the chance to fight for the playoffs again.
Of course, we hope for a better start than last season, when we started 0-4. It took a lot of strength to fight our way back. But I think we have gained enough experience in the two years to stay calm and continue on our way. In the end, we'll see where we end up."
How do you see the FCBB's long-term prospects after its first year as an A-license club?
"After all, we had set up a three-year plan in 2019, but then came the pandemic and then the war. So the last phase of the three-year plan, which was based on the opening of the SAP Garden, has been postponed by two years. I think we have managed quite well in the midst of this turbulence and with a gigantic major project under our belt to be really competitive, not least of all in Europe. We have been and continue to be challenged in parallel to work on the SAP Garden and at the same time to achieve our sporting goals.
In general, we are in a very demanding phase, but it also has a positive side, because everyone in the club as a whole has moved together. Especially with the our group but also with the soccer department, we are in constant exchange about how we can perform even better in our areas."
You addressed the fans, they hope for a "normal" season after two difficult years, you too?
"Of course, Corona and the circumstances surrounding it have also had an impact on team-fan bonding. Ghost games and hygiene rules have unfortunately not allowed the closeness to the team and players that we and our fans would have liked. We are aware of that. We therefore want to re-establish closer contact. I think our season-ticket holders' game against Chemnitz was a nice thing for everyone. The season finale in June and our Mountain Madness event also went very well. There were finally selfies taken and autographs signed again. We want to make regular autograph sessions at games possible again in the future, as long as that's reasonable with the Corona situation."
"Ticket prices have remained stable"
In general, the plan is to continue to develop the game day experience, right?
"Absolutely, our claim is to offer the best sporting event in the city. The BBL games with the mostly family-friendly tip-off times will remain accordingly aligned with a supporting program for the whole family. For the youngest fans, we will soon have some interesting news to announce, but I don't want to reveal any more than that. A lot will also happen again in the walkway area, with well-known show acts or the highlight game days such as 'Music meets Basketball' we have had outstanding experiences anyway; also thanks to the support of our committed partners."
The current schedule suggests that this will be the last full basketball season in the Audi Dome before the SAP Garden opens in spring 2024 and the Audi Dome becomes even more of a cult venue for events of all kinds.
"The SAP Garden, with its technical and digital possibilities, will of course set new standards. But we also want to further strengthen the technology in the Audi Dome and have again invested in upgrades for the new season. A new control room unit will take fan entertainment up another notch. Last but not least, the second-screen experience is also gaining in importance for us for gameday attendance in the Audi Dome; there, stats and personalized video highlights can be accessed in real time via the app's Game Center."
"The best sporting event in town"
The fans remain at the center . . .
". . . absolutely, although we will continue to take our audience along with us on higher-level topics. Climate-neutral operation in the Audi Dome is one goal, for example. We will runa sustainability strategy to the best of our ability. In addition, we are working on a solution for ride sharing; this means that we want to offer a platform for organizing the journey to the games more easily and sustainably with car pools."
A year ago, you identified the fight for the return of fans as the most important issue after the dreary period of ghost games. That topic is still relevant, isn't it?
"Of course, we're seeing it now at the Oktoberfest. People are flocking to the tents again, but there are still reservations; especially since people are feeling completely new financial burdens because of the energy crisis. However, I would like to emphasize here that our ticket prices have remained stable this year - once again, there are no increases.
We are also trying to meet different needs with our ticketing products. Flexibility is an important keyword in this context, so in addition to the season ticket, we also offer multiple tickets that allow fans to cherry-pick from the schedule. We also have many attractive options in our portfolio for families, schoolchildren and students, and for after-work visits with colleagues, especially for EuroLeague home games. By the way, the entire purchasing process is completely mobile, right through to transferring the e-ticket to the app's own wallet. It really couldn't be simpler."