Per Günther had guessed it. When he started preparations with the Bundesliga club Ratiopharm Ulm on August 17 last year, the builder already knew quite well what to expect this season. A few weeks earlier he had announced that it would be his last season and that his era would end after 14 first division years, which he all played for Ulm. “I do not think it will be a big story during the season. Rather look towards the end,” said the 34-year-old at the start of training and was spot on.
After his farewell was hardly a problem during the round, Ulm’s number six was always in the center of attention on the road: In Bayreuth Bastian Doreth presented him with a gift basket, in Bamberg the hosts played a clip with Per Günther’s best scenes from matches against the Bamberg Franks off. Then there were appreciative applause from the opponents fans. “It’s something I was very, very happy about. Because it shows that there were people outside Ulm who liked to see me play,” says Günther.
How many options there will be for this is open. With Ratiopharm Ulm, the 65-time national player starts the playoffs on Saturday (20.30) at the giants Ludwigsburg. Only that much is already certain: the native Gießen will definitely complete the 500 Bundesliga matches in match three of the quarter-final series at the local Ratiopharm Arena.
The extra shift in the championship round arouses mixed feelings in the 34-year-old. On the one hand, he looks forward to the special mood that prevails in the decisive phase of the season. On the other hand, he admits: “A finish without a playoff would have had something. You could have planned it, all your friends and family could have been there. ”
As was the case with Rickey Paulding (Oldenburg) and Alex King (Würzburg), whose careers ended with the final main round. But now Günther is entering the playoffs as the last of the three legends to embark on a farewell tour this season. The built-up player always felt comfortable with it. “I’ve always played my best basketball in the playoffs,” he says in retrospect. In that regard, he looks back on the untitled time in a half-forgiving way, where he was in a final four times with Ratiopharm Ulm. The Swabians failed twice in the cup final in Berlin, twice Bamberg was too strong in the championship final. Mike Taylor, his first coach at Ulm, says: “The fact that Per was never able to win a title with Ratiopharm Ulm in no way diminishes his career. He has achieved so much with and for the club – and it is what counts. “
It is very unlikely, if not completely impossible, that something will change in the last year of all things. But the injuries to Karim Jallow, Philipp Herkenhoff and above all to the center Cristiano Felicio weigh heavily and weaken the two-fold second place enormously. The big question before Ulm’s playoffs start is how long Jaron Blossomgame, Semaj Christon and Sindarius Thornwell will last. Much is possible with the trio in top form, as it was shown in the Eurocup. There, Ulm advanced to the quarterfinals and had the final champion Virtus Bologna on the verge of defeat.
Per Günther does not yet know when his career will end. How it goes on, though already. To the surprise of many, he will leave the city and club to move to Hamburg with his family. However, the club still wants to give him an appropriate farewell by hanging his jersey under the roof of the hall and from now on, number six will no longer be awarded. This is the first time that a Ratiopharm player has received this honor. After 14 years in the Ulm jersey, Per Günther really deserved it.
A derby, a classic and a premiere
excitement The playoff duels are set and the quarterfinals already promise a lot of excitement. From a Swabian point of view, the focus is of course on the derby series of MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg (4th) against Ratiopharm Ulm (5th). With the success of the home game against Heidelberg, the Giants not only secured the home advantage in a possible fifth game, but also posed Bayern Munich (3rd) for an unpleasant task (Friday at 20.30). The title contender must deal with Chemnitz (6th), the “dreaded opponent” of the Munich team. Including the trophy, the Niners won all three matches against Bayern this season.
A classic is the duel between the winner of the main round Alba Berlin against Brose Bamberg (8th), with which the playoffs start on Friday (19.00). The simultaneous quarter-final match between Bonn (2nd) and Hamburg Towers (7th) is a premiere. Both teams meet for the first time in the playoffs.