Eisvogel USC Freiburg plays in the final series of the German championship in basketball. Opponents are the Rhinland Lions. The respect is great, but so is the self-confidence, says Freiburg basketball player Luisa Nufer.
“It feels like a dream right now, I can not quite realize that we are in the final right now,” says Luisa Nufer and beams. SWR Sport spoke to her before the first match of the final series on Friday (April 22). From the start, you can feel the expectations of the player, the team and the whole club for the upcoming matches.
Semi-finals exciting until the last second
Even the semifinal against the defending champion from Keltern could hardly be surpassed in terms of suspense and drama. Nufer talks about a basketball thriller and is still overjoyed that the thriller had a happy ending for the Freiburg women. Leading 1-0 in the second game of the semifinal series (best of three), the Kingfishers then went into the second game on Easter Saturday, where they were long behind. A few seconds before the end of the game, it was 91:91. However, Keltern missed a three-point shot and Eisvogel then scored to win 93:91. This is the second time since 2011 that they joined the final series of the German Basketball Championship.
“Mega full of confidence”
Luisa Marie Nufer plays as a shooting guard on the women’s basketball Bundesliga team and reads math and sports to become a teacher. But her studies have to wait until now, her focus is solely on the upcoming matches against the Rheinland Lions. It’s about nothing less than the German championship.
The strength of the Freiburg women is the team spirit, they win collectively, as in the semifinal against Keltern. “We are super full of confidence. I think it’s the craziest team I’ve ever played with,” said the 19-year-old, describing the spirit of coach Harald Janson’s team. “Every single player on the team is part of this great puzzle.”
It’s a “super fat feeling” that they are only in the final for the second time since 2011. Especially then, she adds, the team also has the chance to win, “because we’re just good enough.”
Save energy for a strenuous final series
The workload that lies ahead of the kingfishers with the final series is enormous. Possibly up to five matches, always in quick succession, plus the long distance of more than 400 kilometers between Freiburg and Bergisch Gladbach, where the Rheinland Lions play their home matches. It is no wonder that the training load of actually up to nine units per week has been reduced somewhat. The focus is now on targeted preparation and analysis of the opposing game systems. And despite the long journey, it’s important to be “directly ready” on Friday.
Rheinland Lions: looking for the main round
Although the Freiburg women’s basketball team wants to convince as a team, play offensively fast and as a young team wants to bring sharpness and dynamism into the meeting, a tough opponent in the Rheinland Lions awaits them. The Kingfishers lost both games in the main round (89:96 and 55:61), and the Lions have many experienced players. “It’s the biggest fear,” says Luisa Nufer. She suspects that the Rheinland Lions will use their tactics to take the fast Freiburg defender Shiori Yasuma out of the game, thus disturbing the younger Freiburg players. But: “I just think we need to counteract that and be prepared for them to try to upset us.” Yasuma, together with Hannah Little and Christa Reed, is one of the kingfishers’ top scorers.
Home rights are with Rhinland Lions
Since the Freiburg women finished the main round behind the Rheinland Lions in the table, the team from Bergisch-Gladbach has a home advantage in the final series – therefore the first match will also take place there. It does not make it easier for the Freiburg women: “The first match is an away match, it will be tough,” said Nufer. She is all the more looking forward to the second match, then in Freiburg: “We simply have the best fans in the entire Premier League, the highest and I think also the most. It always gives a super good feeling and a lot of energy.
The chance for the title is there
Despite the opponents’ experience and the long journey away, the kingfishers fully and firmly believe in their chance. At least there are realistic chances “that we can win it”. She will gather all her energy and support the team herself, not give a single ball away easily, make the Freiburg game fast and score points fast.
It can wait until her semester starts again next Monday, the teacher student says, still laughing. For them, it only starts after the final series. Luisa Nufer’s focus is on the unique opportunity to win the German basketball championship – with confidence and team spirit.