My hat’s off to Ulm, I have to admit I was sorely mistaken about this team. What an insane performance they pulled off in this playoff, the quarterfinals and semifinals were like an orange painting by Pablo Picasso, the finals added a magical frame to that painting making it look like a work of the Gods.
Anton Gavel in his rookie season as coach has done wonders with this team under difficult conditions – numerous injuries, visa issues and a young team that took some getting used to. His only experience was three years at Orange Academy in the third-tier ProB. Winner of 5 BBL as a player with Brose Bamberg and Bayern Munich, he now managed to be the first coach to beat the top 3 teams in the regular season on his way to the trophy. With a Brazilian duo that played basketball to the beat of the samba, finals MVP Yago Dos Santos brought brilliance to Ulm’s game, from slippery passes to shots from the 3-point line in tough moments, the other Brazilian Bruno Caboclo although brought in during the season quickly found his chemistry with Yago made the battle under the boards seem like a formality, his accuracy from the 2 point line and rebounding made him the complete partner for Yago. What a genius move Ulm’s management made in bringing in Juan Nunez from Real Madrid, this incredibly mature 19-year-old finished the season with 8.1 points, 4.2 assists and 3.3 rebounds in his first full senior season. Thomas Klapeisz, Josh Hawley, Robin Christen, Karim Jallow and Brandon Paul were the perfect teammates for the two Brazilians, each shining when and where needed. They all managed to win the first title for Ulm in a fiery playoff. They won against two Euroleague teams, Alba Berlin and Bayern Munich; and in the final, they defeated the winner of the Basketball Champions League, Telekom Baskets Bonn. They made it all the way through with 9 wins and only 2 losses, in the regular season they managed 18 wins and 16 losses, it’s incredible how much the team could transform.
It will probably be a tough period for Ulm, will they be able to keep their important players? Will they be able to maintain their playoff form next season? How much will fans’ expectations rise? Whatever happens, this season’s performance cannot be erased and Ulm made basketball history with this playoff run.