“Fast, aggressive and smart”

The new head coach leaves the first training to his assistants. Stefan weibenbock and marcelo nicola lead the passing, dribbling and throwing drills of the bamberger brose basketball players on monday morning in the strullendorf training hall, while ainars bagatskis stands quietly on the sidelines and watches. At the end of the training session, the 51-year-old lette calls the team together, addresses a few words to his team and thus concludes the first of a total of 26 training sessions with which the nine-time german basketball champions are preparing for the national championship to be played on 29 june. September starting league season prepared.

Not only the invited press representatives were curious about the new coach and the new players. The club's entire management team, including supervisory board chairman michael stoschek, managing director rolf beyer, sports director ginas rutkauskas and club president norbert sieben, also attended the training session kickoff. After last season's disappointing performance, the former series champion is now in a new mood and sees itself in the role of the hunter instead of the hunted.

Bagatskis is to ensure that the bamberg hoopers continue to play a leading role in german basketball and prevent munich bayern from dominating the league. But the new head coach does not want to talk about titles. "I don't promise championships, but I promise hard and professional work. We want to play fast, aggressive and smart. We need to find our team identity as quickly as possible. I did not like our team to play like others. We will play like brose bamberg", the former latvian national coach describes the style of basketball he wants to instill in his future team.

Use the talent of the players

In concrete terms, this means for bagatskis, who has signed a contract with brose until 2020: "basketball is not possible without defense, that is the most important thing. It's where the offense develops, and I want to use the talent of my players in the attack. That's why it's important to find the right balance. You can't win a game with offense alone, and you can't win a game with defense alone."

Bagatskis now has four weeks to introduce his basketball philosophy to the players before the first game of the season in wurzburg gets serious. At the start of training, the coach had almost his entire team together. Only newcomer tyrese rice was absent. The player will join the team on thursday, because he will be attending the wedding of his best friend during those days. This is what the u.S. Player had promised in his contract with brose.

Three junior internationals are also training with the bundesliga pros during pre-season preparations: kay bruhnke, marvin heckel and esteemed kristian kullamae. The trio is like the australian william mcdowell-white, who is between the brose basketball team and the farmteam baunach young pikes in the 2. League proa will shuttle back and forth, equipped with a dual license.

While the young players quickly disappear into the showers after the end of the first training session, the newcomers are much in demand for the following round of interviews – as is the new coach. "Actually i didn't like to talk about myself. In principle, I'm someone who doesn't pretend. If i'm angry, it's for a good reason. But I'm not a bad guy, says bagatskis laughing.

With his level-headed manner, the lette is much more reminiscent of his immediate predecessor luca banchi than of the temperamental andrea trinchieri. But the italian ara at brose bamberg is now history. With bagatskis and sports director rutkauskas, a baltic duo is now setting the direction.

Voices of players

Arnoldas kulboka (lithuanian talent, returnee): "italy was a great experience. I learned a lot there in the italian first league and in the champions league. I had a rough role, got almost 30 minutes of playing time per game, which was really good. I've also gained muscle mass, but I have to keep working on it. My agent, the team managers and I think that I should continue to play in europe, gain more experience and mature. Then we'll see what the charlotte hornets have in store for me. I won't get as many minutes in bamberg as I did in italy, but I want to play and give something to the team so we win and take the title. It's too early to talk about my role at the moment." Us stevan jelovac (serbian national player): "germany is now my sixth country outside serbia where i play. I didn't want to miss the chance to play for the best german club of the last years, that's why I came to bamberg. I haven't seen much of the city since I arrived on friday afternoon, but since I played here with saragossa, I know that the city is not that rough, but the people and the city are fully focused on basketball. Zisis is the leader of a very talented team. If we can get good team chemistry and train hard, we have a good chance to have a successful season with the players that come in." Us maurice stuckey (returnee from wurzburg): "the offer from bamberg sounded tempting of course. There was not much to think about, because it is the opportunity for me to take the next step. A lot has changed here, in the time I was away, I have also changed. I hope that we will be successful. I've become calmer, just a bit more mature, more confident, more consistent. I want to give the team a lot of energy. I love to defend, hope I can set the scene for my teammates and get my shot from the three-point line even more consistent. To be able to play internationally is a big challenge for me. I am especially looking forward to the atmosphere in the hall." Kg patrick heckmann (back after injury): "i was out for half a year last season because of the injury and i'm happy to be back in the hall now. My shoulder is fine, I have no more complaints. Here and there you can still feel a muscle that wants to do something different. But I am fully resilient. The strategy is to play with a lot of passion and heart. Those who are here for a long time, like nikos zisis and elias harris, have to show the guys what it means to play in bamberg, what we have to give back to the fans. We first have to find ourselves as a team and everyone has to find his role. We definitely don't need to hide from anybody. We want to take our chances in the bundesliga as well as in the champions league." Kg cliff alexander (athletic newcomer from the USA): "i want to bring my athleticism into the game, my skills around the basket. I can shoot from half distance, rebound and rebound under the basket, these are my strengths that I will also use here in bamberg. My arm span is 2.22 meters, which helps me a lot in rebounding and defense. I would definitely like to reach the play-offs with the team, if possible the championship. I bring a winning mentality with me. The coach approached me at the summer league and convinced me to come here. I've been hearing a lot about freak city on social media and I'm looking forward to the atmosphere in the gym." 

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