Sebastian Gleim raised his fist again to say goodbye to the audience. Knowing that the last home game in Hakro Merlin’s Crailsheim, the last main round game on Saturday night, could also have been the last game of the season. Despite the 95:93 victory against Niners Chemnitz and the accompanying chance to get to the playoffs – if there had been support. Shortly before, the coach had given the fans applause. Even in difficult times of the season, the spectators stood behind the team. Gleim repeatedly praised the supporters at press conferences.
A season with many great victories, but also setbacks
“If someone had told me a few weeks ago that we still had a chance to reach the playoffs after eight corona cases, the serious injury to TJ Shorts and difficult additional commitments in the last match, I would have been very happy and proud. I am now too “, was his conclusion on the main round.” I think we can look back on a season where we have experienced a lot. In which we recorded an incredible number of great victories, but also had major setbacks. “
A chain of unfortunate circumstances cost Crailsheim crucial points
The big problem was that the setbacks followed so quickly, especially with the damage to the Shorts and the corona cases. The team had no time at all and almost no opportunity to adapt quickly enough to the new situation and the new balance of the team without their watch. After that, the program was so tightly packed that Gleim hardly had a chance to integrate the signings Jon-Axel Gudmundsson and Mike Caffey fast enough. In addition, Caffey was injured in the final sprint.
This chain of unfortunate circumstances and wear and tear ultimately cost them the crucial two points to get into the top eight teams in the league. “We’ve always found a way to adjust in a game or between games and find a way to attack again,” Gleim said. “We played the most Merlins matches in a season ever with the Europa Cup and Cup Final Four.”
Ingo Enskat is incredibly proud
Sports director Ingo Enskat sat in the billboard a few minutes after the final siren. “Insane,” he said of the last match. It was only late Sunday night that the Crailsheimers knew they had really missed the playoffs when Bamberg beat the Hamburg Towers and secured eighth place in the BBL – a victory more than Crailsheim.
“Watercraft,” said Enskat, but also about the season. “I’m incredibly proud of what the team and the coaches have achieved. We played well in three tournaments with our relationship. It’s sensational. You can’t stress that enough.” And he also gave a compliment to the spectators: “It’s absolutely incredible what’s going on in our hall. It’s increased from time to time since we’ve had the audience again.”
Merlins’ successes on the international stage and in the cup
Although there was no happy ending, in the playoffs, Crailsheimers can look back on a strong season. CEO Martin Romig described it as the “most intense” and “in my opinion, if we hide the table, the most successful season” at Magentasport. In the Fiba Europe Cup, Merlins was in the quarterfinals for the first time on the international stage. In addition, they reached the final of the trophy. “We took what we could,” said Romig, “the playoffs would have been the icing on the cake. We were in Athens, Minsk, Kyiv, in Denmark and Italy. In terms of mindset, it was fantastic.” And at least he shouted “Hurray” more often than he was angry.
And the CEO also praised the atmosphere at the home games in Arena Hohenlohe. “It was brutal energy. The spectators are our sixth man. It’s sensational. I’m so proud to be the CEO of this site,” he said. “But also the hat off to my team, who made a brutal program.”
However, he did not want to comment on personal details for next season. One or the other player still has a contract. “We want to keep the core, that’s clear,” Romig says. But it must be seen to what extent it succeeds, as one or another player has certainly played on other clubs’ wish list. And if the opportunity arises, he would like to play in an international competition next season as well. And even without a happy ending, the applause is not just for the audience.
Season-ending celebration at Crailsheim Marketplace
After 52 competitive games, the Merlins season ended Saturday night in ninth place in the BBL table. Tonight at 6.30 pm, the season-ending celebration will take place in the market square in Crailsheim.