Gießen 46ers: A descent with a message

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Of: Markus Konle

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With a new leadership, the Gießen 46ers announced the infinite new start this summer. It ends in disaster with relegation from the Basketball Bundesliga. A chronology.

The Gießen 46ers were in a spirit of optimism ahead of the season. With the new managing director Sebastian Schmidt, the relegation prevented by a wildcard and under the new coach Pete Strobl, everything should get better. But after a preparation marked by injuries, it turned out early on that it would again be a difficult season for the basketball Bundesliga club von der Lahn. Too difficult. The relegation to Pro A has been safe since last Friday. The season in time-lapse.

September 26: The 46ers celebrate an 86-74 victory over Bayreuth at the start of the Bundesliga season. The starting lineup includes Kyan Anderson, Rawle Alkins, BJ Blake, Flo Koch and John Bryant. They lost two days later, despite a 14-point lead, 87-89 in Bamberg.

October 5: Alkins, one of the key players in the first two games, leaves the 46ers again. The former NBA player uses an exit clause in his low-budget contract to join league rival Ludwigsburg for the reported transfer fee of 35,000 euros. In the 68:75 defeat against Heidelberg, Jalen Tate made a discreet debut.

October 8: The Giessen 46s put pressure on city politicians over the indoor problem. Two weeks before the OB run-off, the club presented big plans for how the Osthallen can be transformed into a modern 5,000 spectator arena. The ambitious idea: The complex, which costs around 25 million euros and also includes a new hall for the Ostschule, is to be completed by the end of 2024.

October 23: Giessen celebrate the second victory of the season with a 100-81 victory against Mitteldeutsche BC, which they left a week earlier in Bayern Munich after a strong performance and a 64-71 defeat aet.

November 6: The 46ers are completely bored and experience a 70-104 debacle against Crailsheim. What no one knows until this Saturday night: The team found out a few hours before the start of the match that Blake’s brother had been shot in the United States. After the seventh day of play, the 46s are in 16th place with 4:10 points.

November 20: Finally! The 46ers get their first away win of the season at 75:72 in Oldenburg thanks to a stroke of genius from Kendale McCullum.

November 30: The 46s respond to ongoing injury problems at the small posts and sign 30-year-old combo guard TJ Williams. He is the seventh American on the team.

December 17: Top scorer Blake leaves the 46ers and returns to the United States after the murder of his brother. “After long discussions with my family, I had to make a very difficult decision. In the end, I will sit out the rest of this season to focus on my mental health, “Blake wrote on Instagram as a farewell, which significantly hurts Giessen. They can not compensate for the departure of the leading player.

December 23: At the start of an away game with three games around the holidays, the 46ers admit a 69:71 defeat in the basement duel in Braunschweig – despite a lead of 67:58 three minutes before the end. American center DJ Miller, who joined Lahn from South Korea, is making his debut as the third signing of the current season. Coach Strobl and CEO Schmidt signed him as a replacement for winger Blake. With 6:18 points, Central Hesse is in 16th place ahead of Frankfurt and Oldenburg.

December 29: Gießeners, who slipped into a relegation zone on Christmas Day, also lose the following matches in Hamburg and Ludwigsburg. It rumbles in the club.

January 2: The Ghost Games are back. Due to the corona restrictions, only 170 spectators are allowed in the Osthalle at the Hesse derby and the cellar duel against Frankfurt – they see a 79:90 defeat of the 46ers, who are already admitting their seventh bankruptcy in a row. The biggest construction sites at the moment: Point guard Kyan Anderson can not lead the team, which all too often gets caught up in individual actions. They also have significant shortcomings in defense, are the worst team from the three-pointer and second worst from the free-throw line and have too few professionals to pull the team with. Only Kendale McCullum delivers reliably.

January 8: The rumble turns to hissing. After the home defeat of 76:87 against Göttingen – this is the eighth bankruptcy in a row – the area around coach Strobl is discussed. However, CEO Schmidt insists on the coach, who publicly criticizes Numi Omot sharply after the match: “I do not allow a player to be stubborn.” While Williams has to watch due to an injury, Strobl manages without Tate, whom he accuses of lacking work ethic. Cracks within the team are evident – as is the fact that the quality of the squad is not sufficient for the relegation battle.

January 11: Center and captain John Bryant agrees with the 46ers to terminate his contract and switch to Mitteldeutsches BC with immediate effect. The veteran is unhappy with his role in Gießen and criticizes that the 46s have no team chemistry and no team play. The day before, Gießener had already divorced Tate.

January 22: Despite all the warning signs, coach Strobl and CEO Schmidt emphasized in an interview with AZ: “We are confident of staying up in the league!” On the floor, the McCullum 46ers lead to a 100 with 22 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists and 6 steals: 73 wins against corona-plagued burgers. Letten Martins Laksa, the fourth and final signing of the 46ers, who was praised a lot by those responsible in advance, makes his debut. To this day, he has not lived up to the early praise.

January 29: Now the 46s are also hit: After a corona outbreak on the team, the matches against Braunschweig and in Berlin have been canceled. The next matches in February against personnel-plagued Bamberger (89:92) and in Crailsheim (81:87) are narrowly lost, in Ludwigsburg the 46s gather a swatter – the situation in the relegation battle comes dramatically to the top.

February 21: The 46ers let point guard Kyan Anderson go. He moves to Heidelberg at a time when he was a major competitor in the battle to stay in the league. From the starting lineup that was on the field at the start, only Flo Koch is still wearing the 46ers jersey.

March 9: The 46ers get their fifth win of the season with 95:89 in Bayreuth, is no longer last but just on points after Frankfurt in a relegation zone.

March 17: Coach Strobl has declared the basement duel in Mitteldeutsche BC a “do-or-die game” – his team loses the match in Weißenfels with a disastrous free throw rate of 53 percent with 81:89. The descent is approaching. Giessen then sent a life sign with 88:75 against Baskets Oldenburg, who under the new coach Ingo Freyer has long since passed the 46s in the table.

April 2: Giessen suffers an 81:95 defeat at the hands of his rival in Heidelberg and is already three wins behind the Savings Bank. Despite good performances, the 46ers narrowly lost to the top teams in Munich (85:95) and in Bonn (72:78). What’s left? The hope of a miracle to still get in the league.

April 16: After the 97: 110 defeat in front of only 1400 spectators in the Osthalle against Würzburg and now four victories behind a non-relegation zone, even this hope is largely gone.

April 20: The 46ers’ performance against Braunschweig is like a sporting revelation – after the 66:82 defeat against Löwen, the relegation is practically certain. “We do not play with the heart. We do not have this heart anymore, it is scary for me,” said 46-year-old professional Flo Koch afterwards.

April 24: One last greeting: the 46ers win the Hessen derby 76:75 against the Frankfurt Skyliners, who have already been relegated as sporty players.

April 29: The next sad day in the history of Gießen basketball. After the 70:91 defeat against Chemnitz, the sixth relegation of the 46ers is also mathematically certain.

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