After going to three Bundesliga games, I did something new for me – going to a pro basketball game in Germany! Now obviously the most famous German basketball player probably of all time is Dirk Nowitizki and he actually started his basketball career in the German basketball second league with a small club. So watching the Fraport Skyliners, who are actually in the first German basketball game, is not just watching a small club in the second or third league like when I went to go watch FC Kaiserslautern in a second league game. Fraport, which is based in Frankfurt, Germany, might not have the backing of the FC Barcelona Lassa basketball team but it does have potential to go up the ranks on the EuroLeague side of things as it’s currently in the second European league, EuroCup. It’s interesting that Europe has two different levels/competitions that a team can achieve: getting promoted or relegated in the home country league and in the European league.
One thing that sticks out in Europe about basketball games is that the arenas are a lot smaller than the ones in the NBA. In the NBA, where arenas might hold up to 16,000 to 20,000 people, most European arenas hold up to 3,000 to 7,000 people at max. European basketball games are also much cheaper and more affordable since football is king, not basketball. For the Fraport game, I was able to sit in the lower level for a huge fraction of what would have cost me for a NBA game back in the United States.
The game itself was pretty fun to watch. The talent level is obviously above the collegiate level in the United States but below the NBA, the top level and the top basketball league in the world. That’s probably another reason why the arenas are smaller in Europe – there aren’t that many fans of European basketball because they can just watch supreme-level basketball on TV or travel to North America to watch in-person. I have to say that the fans were very much into it, almost showing a particular zeal for their basketball team with people cheering, singing, and there was even a group of fans who brought drums to bang on.
I could tell on a tactical level that the Fraport Skyliners were a slightly better team because I saw that they use what’s called a wheel motion screen movement in order to get its player open for better shots. They screen and move in a circular motion which gave them more fluidity to where there were more passes to get that quality shot. Bremerhaven Eisbaren played more of a directional positional tactic and this was probably because their players are more talented than Frankfurt’s. What this means is that players stay in their place to allow their players drive into the lane or have cutters go into open spaces so the other players are in the right position for a good shot. Anyways, the score was pretty close throughout the game until Frankfurt went on a good run in the second half which pretty much smothered Bremerhaven’s chances of a comeback victory. Overall, it’s pretty good entertainment for its value.
In Europe, the basketball game cost is a very fan friendly price that also extends to other sports such as handball, futsal (variation of indoor football but can be played outside), ice hockey, etc. Unfortunately, football reigns supreme throughout Europe so its ticket costs are more towards the upper stratosphere. Still, there are some people who enjoy the other sports for its cheaper cost; I actually met a German guy who preferred to only watch his home team’s ice hockey games because not only were the tickets fairly cheap (compared to NHL games) but more fan friendly in general due to all the promotions that the team would provide in terms of meeting players, events, give-aways, etc. So there’s another good reason to travel and go see a sporting event along the way to partake what the locals also do even though football is king. However, I would say watching other sports like basketball is a good thing to do as well.