BasketballWiesbaden vs. Ramstein Friday at Ramstein, Saturday at Wiesbaden Regardless of the condition in which the teams arrive, games between the Warriors and Royals are nearly always compelling.

That’s good, because three of the four teams will enter this latest meeting recuperating from various degrees of damage.

The Wiesbaden boys are the most banged-up of the bunch; they’ll drag a cumbersome four-game losing streak into the doubleheader. The first two losses weren’t surprising, competitive losses to two-time defending champion and undefeated divisional frontrunner Patch. But the situation got starker last weekend as the Warriors lost two more, this time to Division II squad Black Forest Academy.

The Ramstein boys have suffered just one loss, a heartbreaking last-second, home-court 47-46 setback to archrival Kaiserslautern two weeks ago, and they successfully avenged that defeat on Tuesday with a 46-39 win at Kaiserslautern. A tough late schedule, including not only Wiesbaden but two-time defending champion Patch, will test the Royals’ championship mettle.

The Ramstein girls cruise into the weekend at 8-1 and unbeaten in January. But the Royals’ single loss, a 53-47 decision to Bitburg just before the holiday break, offered a glimpse of vulnerability despite the thrashings they’ve handed Division I rivals Kaiserslautern and Vilseck in the meantime.

The Wiesbaden girls, then, are the only team to enter this weekend’s showdown unblemished. The defending Division I champions have been seriously pushed only once, way back in a 39-37 defeat of Bitburg on Dec. 6, in an unbeaten and otherwise unchallenged season.

Boys basketballAOSR at Vicenza Friday and Saturday

DODDS-Europe’s divisional realignment has had major ramifications for basketball teams across the continent. But perhaps none more than the AOSR Falcons and Vicenza Cougars.

A year ago, AOSR faced long odds in pursuing a Division II European championship. The Falcons’ field was stacked with a dozen rival schools, their path blocked by imposing neighbors Naples and Vicenza as well as solid entries from Germany, the Benelux and beyond. AOSR’s title hopes ended two wins short with a tough semifinal loss to Naples.

But the road to a title looks clearer this season. The division has been streamlined to 10 teams, with Naples and Vicenza among the outcasts. And AOSR, led by sophomore phenom Otis Reale and riding an active six-game winning streak, is on the short list of teams to beat in the new bracket.

Vicenza was king of the old bracket, having beaten Naples last year for the Division II crown. But that already seems like a distant past. The Cougars lost most of their key players, welcomed a new coach in Jesse Woods and stepped up to the Division I level all in one eventful offseason. They own a solid 5-3 record, but all of those wins have come against small schools Florence, Marymount and Sigonella, and weekend losses to visiting Division I rivals Patch and Vilseck showed the Cougars just where they stand as of now.

And so this weekend’s games represent a crossroads and an opportunity for both AOSR and Vicenza. The Falcons can lock in their growing Division II reputation by vanquishing the division’s former champ. The Cougars can regain their footing with a quality win or two over a non-divisional but very worthy foe.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now