medi Bayreuth fan Felix Steiner writes about his team’s journey in the Basketball Champions League.
Whenever medi Bayreuth’s CEO Philipp Galewski steps on the court after games, fans know that something great is right around the corner. Like when, four weeks ago, he handed the microphone to head coach Raoul Korner, who savored his special moment to declare that he had re-signed for another two years (with an entire gym chanting his name to boot). Over the last two years Korner has managed to turn the club from barely preventing relegation in the German League into a playoff contender. The Austrian has demonstrated his excellent scouting skills by building a team that loves to follow their new-found DNA of overperforming, fueled by a much-improved staff and organization. If making the German playoffs last year and qualifying for the Final Four of the German Cup this season wasn’t already enough, Bayreuth made their first European appearance in club history count. The team went 8-6 in a hard-fought Group C, qualifying for the Round of 16 against heavyweight Beşiktaş Istanbul. In the German league Bayreuth’s “Heroes Of Tomorrow” rank an outstanding fourth place at the moment.
Facing medi means facing a team that is going to play their heart out every night. The team is known for their outstanding character, believing in their game plan and executing it to the optimum. If you love the extra pass and guys hustling for each other, Bayreuth is your team! They feel super comfortable at home, turning their arena into a madhouse on gameday.
Bayreuth’s bread-and-butter game is dominating down low, together with their wings making big shots from downtown.
The frontcourt is run by the center duo Assem Marei and lefty Andreas Seyferth, plus powerhouse forward De´Mon Brooks. With all three of them showing significant improvements over their time in Bayreuth (close to averaging 11 points per game in the CL), Seyferth just loves the European stage. The German ranks among the most efficient big men in the Champions League. With 69.1 percent on shots in two-point territory, he is just shy of first place Banvit´s Gasper Vidman (69.3 percent). Seyferth has the footwork and coordination to be an important force in the paint. Both he and Marei have brought their back-to-the-basket game to a more than decent level, scoring in any nifty way possible. Power forward De´Mon Brooks likes to man up, his athleticism adds required physicality and energy to the boards. Bayreuth has improved their rebounding, still lacking some rim protection with a disappointing 27th rank in blocks through the regular season (1.7 blocks per game). Their dependence on big man points adds to their few weaknesses, as their offensive game walks a fine line without them. Just last week, opponent Alba Berlin showed the perfect game plan in a German Cup semifinal 96:74 win, shutting Marei, Seyferth, and Brooks down — they scored only 15 total points.
Focusing on medi’s shooting ability, Gabe York is the key factor. Hitting 44.2 percent from downtown this season, he is the third best scorer in the league with 17.4 points per game. As much as Bayreuth is tough to beat with their sharp shooter canning threes, they tend to struggle when he is having an off night.
Looking deeper into Bayreuth’s offense, don’t get lost on stat leaders because you might end up missing out on their glue guy, Nate Linhardt. Linhardt is head coach Korner´s extension on the court, making all the sacrifices necessary to hold the team together. He is the one to control the pace, shouldering all responsibility if the game is falling apart. 8.3 points, 5.1 boards, plus being the leader in forward assists (4.4 per game) all prove his impressive skill set and importance for Bayreuth’s game.
Another x-factor is playmaker and energizer Bastian Doreth. The 28-year-old is the captain of the team and the face of the organization, more in love with the city and its fans than you could possibly imagine. His stories on social media with team manager and best friend Eddy are a classic! He is a true warrior, feeding his team with passion whenever they need a push from the bench, always willing to do anything to win the game. His point guard partner is starter James Robinson. The Pittsburgh Panther alum inspires with a well gifted self-determination as a rookie, mostly using his strength and height to attack the rim or create for others.
The roster is completed by Robin Amaize, veteran Josh Cox and fan favorite Steve Wachalski.
Medi is on a record-breaking season. Going to face one of Champions League favorites Beşiktaş Istanbul in the round of 16 is just one of many accomplishments proving their hard work. Don’t kid yourself by thinking this one is already over, even though it would be a shocker seeing the Germans advance. Bayreuth benefits from their fanatic home crowd, while rarely disappointing when having to deliver in big games. If you didn’t have the chance to follow Raoul Korner and medi Bayreuth’s pleasant journey so far, you probably have no idea what their urge to overperform is all about — a mentality that is geared to beating favored teams with better opportunities, higher caps, and bigger names…just like Beşiktaş. Their home game will be crucial for setting the tone for this series — if medi comes out with a win, their journey might continue.
Text edited by: Nick Flynt