„Sweet Caroline“ – Basketball-Party in Orange
The basketball players from Ratiopharm Ulm write club history. They win the German championship for the first time. The final against Telekom Baskets Bonn crowned their way to the title, where the team defeated the biggest in the league in the knockout rounds.
KRain of orange onfetti, those in charge crying, fans storming onto the floor: Ratiopharm Ulm crowned its sensational play-off run with the first German Bundesliga championship title and put the city in a basketball state of emergency. With party classics such as “Oh, how is that nice” and “Sweet Caroline”, the Ulmer immediately opened their party in the arena, which was announced until the early hours of the morning. “We are incredibly lucky to have knocked out first, second and third in seventh. We are overjoyed. The boys showed incredible heart and big balls throughout the play-offs,” said trainer Anton Gavel before the award ceremony at Magentasport. “That we are here with the title, I fail the words.”
His team won the fourth final game on Friday evening with 74:70 (43:41) against Telekom Baskets Bonn and won the series in best-of-five mode with 3:1. It is Ulm’s first title since winning the cup in 1996 and the biggest success in the club’s history. The club had previously lost three series of finals for the championship in 1998, 2012 and 2016.
This time it was different: after a series of victories over the dethroned champions Alba Berlin and cup winners FC Bayern Munich, Ulm crowned the outstanding play-offs with the final triumph over Champions League winners Bonn. Captain Thomas Klepeisz couldn’t believe the triumph himself. “This was so unlikely from the start that we’d get this thing,” he said. The new master’s best thrower was Yago dos Santos, who scored 25 points. TJ Shorts scored 19 points for Bonn. After 1997, 1999, 2001, 2008 and 2009, this is the sixth vice championship for Bonn.
Ulm’s fans were targeting Bonn’s starting player, Shorts
On a wonderfully sunny summer’s day, the most important game in the Ulm club’s history was already present well before the late start at 8:30 p.m. Numerous fans dressed in orange shirts lined the meadows and parks on the Danube, both final home games were sold out in just 60 seconds. “Let’s bring the title to the Danube! Two cities, one dream,” supporters wrote on a giant white banner. The club’s hall is in Neu-Ulm – and was again sold out with 6,000 spectators.
The home fans were once again aiming for one: Bonn’s star player Shorts, who was voted the best player in the regular season but weakened massively in the final series. Shrill whistles and deafening boos ensued as soon as Shorts had the ball in his hands. “I don’t care about the audience, I only hear my fans and my family in my head,” the star player said after game three, in which he was also booed and provoked. But this time, too, Shorts seemed insecure and tired. He only hit one of his first eight throws. His team managed an 8-0 run in the second quarter just as he was sitting on the bench.
Ulm showed themselves to be a tireless team, not afraid of the final coup. While the collective of the Gavel team shaped the final series, Bonn, the winner of the main round, ran out of players in the end. Captain Karsten Tadda and Javontae Hawkins were injured and center Michael Kessens was suspended. Coach Tuomas Iisalo was only able to fill ten of the twelve possible squad positions on Friday. Ulm’s lead was twelve points at one point, but shrank to two points before half-time.
“Of course it’s a shame that we couldn’t hold on to the lead. We have to be more careful with the ball,” said Ulm’s sports director Thorsten Leibenath at Magentasport. But after the break, Bonn – now led by Shorts – took control and took the lead. Ulm lined up misthrow after misthrow for minutes. Bonn went into the final quarter with a comfortable cushion, but the hosts didn’t give up and turned the game around with a furious 18-0 run.
The icing on the cake came when Ulm’s playmaker Yago dos Santos was voted Most Valuable Player of the final series. This was announced by the BBL on Friday evening after the Ulm coup. The 24-year-old Brazilian repeatedly defended the Bonn star player TJ Shorts in the games.