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46ers eyeing second place

46ers eyeing second place

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TreVion Marcelle Crews (3) and the Gießen 46ers want to establish themselves as the best Pro A team out of Gladiators Trier. © Harald Friedrich

The 46ers' impressive winning streak in the second division of the German Basketball League is now being put to a tough test. On Sunday (5pm) the third Pro A team travels to the league leaders: can Gießen also upset the Gladiators Trier?

The Gießen 46ers' winning streak is gradually becoming a little scary. They have already celebrated a seven-game winning streak, winning 12 of their last 13 games. The 46ers thus secured four points of fifth place in the Bundesliga Pro A, meaning home advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The team, along with Hagen and Frankfurt, continues to struggle for second place, directly behind the Trier Gladiators, who play away from their stadium on Sunday.

It is the top pair in the 31st innings and the final Test. Especially since captain Robin Benzing is still a doubt with his finger injury. So what are the club's chances?

Pressure factor: For the first time in many games, Gießen enters the race without the burden of being the favorite. “We have nothing to lose. “Also because of Benzing,” coach “Frenkie” Ignatovic said immediately after the recent thrilling win over Kirchheim Knights, who lost 70:72 in Osthalle on Wednesday with a winning streak of ten games in a row. “They are playing at home.” “Completely different from playing away from home,” the coach also points to the Moselle City team's home win rate (14-1). At the same time, Giessen now has a slight margin of fifth place: from fourth place onwards, the home advantage is guaranteed At home in the quarter-finals. Ahead of the derby in Rhineland-Palatinate, this also raises questions about the goals for the season in light of this winning streak.

Where is the trip headed? “If possible, we want advantage on our own land. “If possible, we want to play in the cup next year,” Ignatovic has not changed about his goal for the season. By doing so, he also sheds light on the general situation of his chosen team now. »The training situation is not optimal. Other teams see a lack of players We have, so they learn about our performance through small rounds.

On Wednesday, his good friend and Kirchheim coach, Igor Perovic, took the same stance. The Serbian native Ignatovic also has to make do with a relatively small rotation and a relatively small lineup. “I hope now that Jessen can make it to the end,” said Perovic, wishing the 46ers what no one dares to dream of at the moment: promotion.

the hospital: Numerous question marks in the damaged team stand in the way. Benzing prepared against Kirchheim and was called up for the team presentation, but was then left on the bench for 40 minutes. It's a nice psychological trick, as Kirchheim remains unsure whether the former national player can be replaced.

But a few layups in the warm-up can't compare to a real game. Benzing remains a doubt and will see how things play out from one day to the next. Perhaps also to keep hope alive that he will return to the playoffs at the latest. Stefan Fundek and Simon Krajkovic looked like defeated boxers after the tough fight against the Knights. “I would like to see a referee like that for the visiting team in Trier,” Ignatovic said, criticizing the few sirens against two Balkan missionaries.

Words to the fans: A disappointed 2,161 spectators wanted to see the exciting exchange of blows between Giessen and Kirchheim. This brought the hall to a boil, as coach Jonathan Colmar had wanted before the match. But Ignatovic has other wishes: “I hope the hall will be really full next time,” and an example can be taken from Trier, where they want to break the 5,000-fan barrier on Sunday. But the lack of euphoria is not due to the hard core. The fully packed fan bus will make its way to Porta Nigra.

Discount: Trier has had to wait a long time for a season like this. In the past five years, they usually only qualify for the Championship Round in the lower qualifying positions or are eliminated in the quarter-finals. Last year we struggled against relegation for a long time. Then coaching legend Don Beck returned to Moselle and built a championship team. No team in the league has a deeper squad. How serious they were about a BBL return became clear in January at the latest. No less than Jordan Barnes, who was a star for the 46ers last year, has signed up. The American guard became a top scorer again (16 ppg) and provides almost five assists per match. But Gladiators are dangerous because of their depth. Former Patriots player Mike Zerbes had a good outing with 11.4 ppg and 5.8 rebounds, but only had to be on the floor for 20 minutes. It's not uncommon for Benzinga to be over 30 years old…and like I said, the veteran DBB is also questionable for Sunday.

This is what Luis Figi, winner of the Kirchheim match, says: “They can all play and at home they feel like they are getting a buzzer beater from 15 meters out every other game. They're just crazy, but that's exactly where we should start. Increasing squad depth has no real significance because only five-on-five matches are played. Sometimes it's helpful to have a shorter spin to get more rhythm. We just have to play 40 minutes of good basketball. 35 minutes will not be enough. We can keep our opponents under 80 points through strong defence, as we showed against Kirchheim.