On April 30, 2019, Saxony’s best basket hunters experienced one of the most bitter moments in their club’s history. After a sensationally good season in the 2nd ProA basketball league, first place in the main round and a 3-0 win over Karlsruhe at the start of the playoffs, the NINERS had to admit defeat to Hamburg in the fifth and decisive semi-final game. All hopes of advancement were gone in one fell swoop, thousands of Chemnitz residents mourned with their heroes. What nobody dared to dream of back then is now a reality. After countless unsuccessful attempts, the NINERS made the leap into the BBL in 2020, established themselves in no time at all and qualified for the playoffs – the title race for the championship – in their second year. And somehow it wouldn’t be “Chemnitz style” if you got an easy opponent there, which doesn’t exist in the playoffs anyway. But the basketball god goes one better and gives the NINERS by far the biggest name in German sport at their playoff premiere – FC Bayern Munich. This Friday will see the starting signal for the best-of-five series in Munich’s Audi Dome. The first to win three games advances to the semi-finals. On paper, Chemnitz is a clear outsider. But that’s what all the experts thought before the last five duels – and had to be proven wrong four times. Can the NINERS surprise again this time?
Honestly, the omens could be a little better. In particular, the three-game ban for Darion Atkins, who is the NINERS’ best scorer, rebounder and shot blocker, weighs heavily. In the last game of the season in Crailsheim, the 29-year-old center acted out of control when he swung his head onto his opponent Bogdan Radosavljevic’s chest off the ball, causing him to fall, which the BBL officials rated as assault and punished him with the appropriate suspension . Thus, Atkins is missing in the first three quarter-final games against Bayern Munich. In addition, national player Niklas Wimberg has only just returned to the squad after an injury break of more than two months and, on top of that, four key players in Isiaha Mike, Frantz Massenat, Eric Washington and Ivan Karacic have recently suffered from health problems. The medical staff of the NINERS is working hard to ensure that everyone is fit again by the start of the playoffs in Munich, or at least operational.
However, the loss of Darion Atkins will probably not be able to be compensated against the Euroleague quarter-finalists of the last two years. Or is it? In mid-February, the NINERS crossed swords with Munich for the last time. Without Darion Atkins, who was out with corona at the time. Without Ivan Karacic, who was still playing in Belgium. But with incredibly great commitment, passion, will and perhaps the best defensive performance of the season. Because they also had thousands of Chemnitz fans behind them in the local exhibition hall, a sensational 77:58 success was achieved. The fourth in a row against Bayern Munich. Only the very first duel in the upper house was lost by a razor-thin 76:77 at the beginning of January 2021. At that time, the NINERS were guests in Munich’s Audi Dome and the first two playoff games of the quarter-final series are now taking place at the same place. Both matches on Friday and Sunday start at 8:30 p.m. and will of course be broadcast live on MagentaSport. Despite the tip-off time, which is not exactly ideal for guest fans, a few dozen supporters, above all, of course, the members of the “ChemnitzCrew” fan club, want to make their way to the Bavarian capital to support their NINERS.
Any help against the Munich star ensemble is welcome. With top scorer Deshaun Thomas (15.4 points per game), leader Vlado Lucic (8.6), all-purpose weapon Nick Weiler-Babb (6.2) and powerhouse Augustine Rubit (12.0), four of the best Bundesliga players are in the FCB squad. The names and sporting qualities of Andi Obst (10.2), Ognjen Jaramaz (8.5), Othello Hunter (8.2), Nihad Djedovic (7.7) and Leon Radosevic (6.6) are hardly less sonorous. Anyone who, like Bayern coach Andrea Trinchieri, also has the luxury of taking a Gavin Schilling (4.9), Jason George (4.4) or Zan Mark Sisko (4.3) as an eleventh or twelfth option from the bank can also make the failures of one Darrun Hilliard (10.7) or Corey Walden (6.7) compensate. Whether one of the two US guards will be fit again for the playoffs is still open. The quality and immense squad depth speaks for the team from the Isar anyway.
That’s how the gazettes write it, that’s how they wrote it before all the previous duels, that’s how we write and wrote it every time it’s against Bayern. Although the NINERS then often made the David and toppled Goliath, things will definitely be different now in the playoffs, without Atkins on top of that. Munich will finally get serious, shed its “blemish” Chemnitz, put things right again. Who would want to doubt that? nobody, right? Well, more than a dozen “doubters” come to mind right now. Names like Frantz Massenat, Jonas Richter or Trent Lockett. Isiaha Mike, Nelson Weidemann or Niklas Wimberg. Malte Ziegenhagen, Rodrigo Pastore or Mindaugas Sušinskas. They move to Munich to face the overwhelming Bayern once again, not to give up and to leave everything on the field of honor. As the Gauls did against Rome. Join us. Back them up. Light candles and get excited for the playoffs. history is not written. History is made!
Game 1 @ Munich, Friday, May 13, 8:30 p.m. (Audi Dome Munich)
Game 2 @ Munich, Sunday, May 15, 8:30 p.m. (Audi Dome Munich)
Game 3 vs. Munich, Friday, May 20, 8:30 p.m. (Chemnitz Exhibition Center)
Optional Game 4 vs. Munich, Sunday, May 22, 8:30 p.m. (Chemnitz Exhibition Center)
Optional game 5 @ Munich, Wednesday, May 25, 8:30 p.m. (Audi Dome Munich)