WIESBADEN, Germany — Opening day for Division-III schools competing in the 2013 DODDS-Europe basketball championships provided little dramatic flair and a stark contrast between schools aiming for a title and those whose goal is to pick up a win or two.
The top-seeded boys from Bamberg, the most athletic team in D-III ball this season, showed why they’re the No. 1 seed, just ahead of perennial contender and three-time defending champion Rota.
The Barons knocked off a scrappy Sigonella squad, 57-20 in their first game Wednesday and later cooled the cylinders of the eighth-seeded Menwith Hill Mustangs, who were firing with precision in their earlier victory over Incirlik.
For any opponent to knock off the Barons this tournament, they’ll have to contain 6-foot-5inch Terry Williams on the inside.
“They have to shut down the whole team, not just me,” Williams said.
If Wednesday was any indication, he seems right. Opponents will also have to deal with an all around athletic team who likes to have fun on the court, including Andrew Reed, whose athletic antics above the rim brought the otherwise subdued crowd to life at the Wiesbaden Fitness Center.
The defending champs, along with a solid contender in Baumholder, showed that it’s not going to be an easy ride to titletown for the Barons.
For Rota, Wednesday showed how much its game relies on solid x’s and o’s as steady ball control and a stout defense stifled Ankara and Alconbury.
It was obvious the Admirals know who their main obstacle is to bringing a fourth straight trophy back to Spain. As Rota jogged out for their opening match warmup time, the Rota coach peered over to see how Bamberg was doing in their game on the next court. Even Rota guard Mason Crowell took some stretches during the Rota game on the other side of the wall where he could check out the latest score from the Bamberg game.
Rota’s senior guard Brooks Furleigh said he liked what he saw out of his young team on Wednesday, but knows it’s just a sampling of what’s ahead.
“We are a confident team, but we know it’s not going to be easy and we have to work hard,” Furleigh said.
On the girls side, the top-seeded Brussels Brigands, showcased a fundamentally solid game with an impressive range of jump shots from all over the court.
Coach Timothy Como, who stepped into the position midway through the season, seems to have established self-confidence in his Brussels troops at the right time.
The Brigands blanked an overmatched Lajes squad in their first game of the day and later went on to knock off Rota, the team that beat them in a classic semifinal matchup last year.
“It’s really relieving,” said junior Brigands guard Aleeza Vitale, who added they don’t want to get full of themselves being the top seed, though.
Defending champion Bamberg also looked impressive on opening day and the Alconbury Dragons, the No. 2 seed, were able to come away with two victories on the day.
“We’re tired of being the losers,” said senior Nastassia Peters, who was able to don the white jerseys, typically reserved for the higher seeded team in tournament games, during both games on the tournament’s opening day.
Dragons senior Kayla Gray and junior junior Leila Hall said this year’s team is special because, unlike the past, all the players on the squad get along with each other.
While many teams have sights set on the ultimate prize, the boys from Lajes, a school in Portugal, were playing their first DODDS opponents all season. The Falcons have to rely on playing local club teams and airmen in order to prepare them for the four-day tournament.
Although the Falcons put up a battle in both of their opening day games, they couldn’t muster a win. That’s something point guard Jah’Lani Dempsey hopes to change on Thursday, as opening day jitters have subsided.
“On the island, not many people come (to our games),” Dempsey said. “Teammates sometimes get nervous when we come here and get on a big stage.”