Turkish Airlines Euroleague
June 19, 2013
bwin Euroleague Fantasy Challenge
Tel Aviv 2004
Qualifying Rounds 2012
NIKE International Junior Tournament
2012 Qualifying Round profile: Ratiopharm Ulm
Coming off its best season ever, ratiopharm Ulm has earned the right to play the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Qualifying Rounds and hopes to make the most out of the opportunity to reach the continental elite in its first shot in European competition. Led by newcomers Isaiah Swann and Steven Esterkamp, who arrived to complement Per Guenther and rebounding ace John Bryant, Ulm enjoyed a fantastic season in the German League, where it finished the regular season in second place with a 27-7 record. Ulm swept New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig and s.Oliver Baskets Wuerzburg in the playoffs to reach the finals against Brose Baskets, which ended up winning the title. Basketball has long been popular in the southern German city. Predecessor SSV Ulm 1846 was competitive for decades and won the German Cup in 1996. SSV folded in 2001 and ratiopharm Ulm was founded right away to keep elite basketball in the city. Thomas Stoll and Andreas Oettel bought SSV's license to start competing in the German second division. In just a few of years, Ulm already ranked third in the German second division's southern group with a 26-6 record. The team, which has always been sponsored by pharmaceutical giant ratiopharm, finished second in its second division group in 2003-04 and 2004-05, but could not get to the top level. That changed in 2005-06, when Ulm, led by Jeff Gibbs and Jonathan Levy, was promoted to the German elite after a 29-1 season. Ulm had a strong German League debut in which it finished 10th overall and missed the playoffs by just two wins. A 12th-place finish in 2007-08 allowed Ulm to cement its status as a solid German League team. With Gibbs leading the way, Ulm reached the 2009 German League playoffs, where it lost against Telekom Baskets Bonn. Robin Benzing became its signature player in 2009-10, but Ulm was far from the playoffs, finishing 13th overall with a 13-21 record. Benzing, Guenther and Bryant tried to change things in 2010-11, but despite great support at home games in the 6,100-seat Ratiopharm Arena, Ulm ranked 14th with a 12-22 record. Everyhting changed for the better this season as Coach Thorsten Leibenath and floor general Swann took Ulm to its best season ever. The future certainly looks bright and the club will try to fight for titles in his own country while trying to please thousands of fans with strong performances against some of the best teams in continental basketball.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
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