By Antonis Stroggylakis/ email@example.com
Paul Zipser had seen it coming.
“We work on a lot of stuff in practice. We really got better in just one week. And I think we really can be very very good, very soon,” Zipser told Eurohoops on January 16 and during a rough patch Bayern Munich was going through in EuroLeague.
A week afterward, Zipser and his teammates snapped a six-game skid by defeating Maccabi Tel Aviv, one of the most in-form and tough-to-beat teams in EuroLeague right now, at home. The 25-year-old German forward himself had one of his top performances this season: 17 points, nine rebounds for a game-high 24 PIR.
This season marks Zipser’s comeback to EuroLeague following a two-year stint in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls. “I had two very different years. The first year was successful. In the second year, there were some changes to the club. Different approaches to different things and I had struggles with my body (Zipser was troubled by a foot injury and was operated on May 2018). So it was a very tough year for me.”
Despite the frustration he had to endure in his second season, Zipser admitted that the experience in the USA helped him improve a couple of aspects of his game. “I worked on a lot of individual stuff, first of all. I think I’m a better 1 vs. 1 player than I was before. I learned a lot in general on how to think in certain stretches in the game. I think it really helped me a lot,” Zipser said.
Zipser found the quality basketball in EuroLeague being on a completely different level upon his return. “The growth in talent. It doesn’t matter if you played in the NBA or not at this point I think. This kind of growth in talent, but still having many games, many tough games.”
While Zipser’s focus right now is to help Bayern win all available titles on a domestic level and finish the EuroLeague campaign at a high note, after the season lies the challenge of making the Olympic Games with the German national team.
Germany will compete in the Olympic Qualifiers tournament that will take place in Spit, Croatia. Apart from the tournament hosts, teams like Russia and Brazil will also fight for an Olympics berth.
Zipser believes that if at full strength, Germany can claim a ticket to the Olympics and leave behind the disappointing run in the World Cup.
“If we can pull everybody together and play the way we should play or we can play, we can achieve our goals. Otherwise, it will look like last summer. And nobody in the country wants to see this,” Zipser said.