Freak City, tied for first
Welcome, Euroleague and basketball fans around the world, from Bamberg, Germany a.k.a. "Freak City". I will explain later why Bamberg is nicknamed "Freak City". After a three-year absence from Euroleague competition, Brose Baskets Bamberg is making its return this season. My name is Kyle Hines and I will be blogging for you all this season. Before I start, I feel it is important that I first give you all a small introduction of myself. I'm originally from Sicklerville, New Jersey, a small suburban town about 20 miles outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I played in college at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. It is a university not known for its rich basketball history, only being member of the NCAA's first division since 1994, but is still a growing program on the rise. And let me shout out to my fellow Spartan, Ronnie Burrell, who also competes in the Euroleague for Asseco Prokom.
I'm entering my third year professionally in Europe. This is my first year as a member of the Brose Baskets Bamberg team. I spent my first two seasons playing with Prima Veroli in the Italian second division. Since I came to Europe, it has my goal to compete at the Euroleague level against the best teams and best players in all of Europe. I got the opportunity this past summer to reach that goal by becoming part of Brose. Reyshawn Terry and I became the two newest members of an already strong nucleus of players returning from last year.
We all knew coming into this season that we would be considered heavy underdogs in the Euroleague. German teams historically don't fair very well against Euroleague competition, and it didn't help that our group consists of some of the toughest teams in Europe. Despite all of this, as a team we were all very confident that we could not only compete, but also win and advance to the next round.
Our first game we had to travel to Rome to face Virtus Roma. This game was sort of a homecoming game for me. My team for the past two seasons, Prima Veroli, was located just 40 minutes outside of Rome. So I spent many of my off days and free time in Rome. I have a lot of friends who live there and I know many of the players on the Roma team. It was also sort of ironic that we would have our first Euroleague game in Rome. I vividly remember going to watch Roma play Euroleague games last season and sitting in the crowd wondering when would I get the opportunity to compete at this level. To start my Euroleague career in the same arena where I had watched games less than a year ago is amazing to me.
We started the game slow, which is too be expected, because many of us were making our Euroleague debuts. We played them even for a majority of the game, but at the end of the third quarter, we kind of lost the pace of the game and allowed them to exploded for a 20-point lead. We ended up losing the game by 18 points. We were all disappointed by the loss because even though Virtus Roma is a good team, we knew that we didn't play as well we should have. Despite the loss, we left Rome still confident that if we played better, we could compete with anyone. Our next game we hosted the Greek powerhouse Olympiacos Piraeus. Olympiacos was last year's Euroleague runner-up and has a roster full of some of the most notable and most talented players in the world. We knew that it was going to be a difficult task trying to win. Even though nobody in the world believed that we had the chance to win, we knew we had a few advantages that gave us confidence. First off, we were playing at home in Bamberg front of the "Freak City" fans. Why is Bamberg nicknamed "Freak City"? The fans have earned that name because of the support and atmosphere that they provide for every home game we play. The fans here are the best in the world and provide support like no others in Europe. If you don't believe me, just ask around about "Freak City". The second advantage was our defense. Our defense is the strong point of our team. We felt coming into the game that if we defended them well, we would have chances to win the game.
The game was tough throughout the first half. We went into halftime with a 6-point lead. Coming out for the second half, we were feeling confident, but also felt we could play better. In the fourth quarter, our defense took over, forcing Olympiacos to take tough shots and getting the necessary stops for us to win. After the game was over and we won it was an incredible feeling. It was probably one of the biggest wins in Brose Baskets Bamberg history. It always feels good to defy the odds and prove people wrong. Our homecourt advantage held up for a second week in a row when we also beat Spirou Charleroi, putting us in a tie for first place in our group. Now, hopefully, more people will take Brose Baskets Bamberg more seriously this year in the Euroleague.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read my blog. Until my next post, signing out from "Freak City."
Friday, November 5, 2010