Breaking news: the BBL is back!

No, not that one.

One of the few domestic leagues still looking to complete their season on the court, the Basketball Bundesliga (aka the easyCredit BBL) returned on Monday.

Rather than complete the outstanding fixtures that were postponed in March, ten teams are playing a season-ending tournament at the Audi Dome in Munich.

Sadly, for British-based fans desperate for basketball – and who wouldn’t be after so long without it – there’s currently no coverage on any of the British sports channels.

That said, there’s nothing to stop you from contacting them and asking if they would show some, the latter stages are still a few days away.

It’s a shame because the tournament is getting a lot of interest worldwide, with a number of sports-starved countries having acquired TV rights.

Some teams have noticed the outside interest they are getting. The hosts – and one of the favourites – FC Bayern Munich even have an English section on their website and now tweet regularly in English for their new international audience.

I have been a fan of German basketball for a while and have a soft spot for ratiopharm Ulm as two former British Basketball League coaches in Mike Taylor (Leopards, at Hamburg until he was fired on Tuesday) and Thorsten Leibenath (Rocks), both went on to coach Ulm after leaving the UK.

ALBA Berlin are another side I enjoy watching and commentating on. The only German team I have seen play live in the UK, I also seem to have acquired a lot of team t-shirts from visits to their club shop in recent years!

If either of these teams win, I’ll be very happy.

But that aside, the main reason for this article is it’s an indicator of what basketball is going to look like until things get back to normal.

As you might have guessed, the games are being played in empty arenas and unlike football, there’s no ambient crowd noise being piped in.

Interestingly, for any table officials reading this, a screen has been erected between them and the court. It not only helps with shielding them from the players and referees, and vice versa, it gets around any social distancing issues.

Even the on-air TV presenters and commentators are being kept apart from each other and while there are some distanced in-arena interviews, the bulk of the interviews are being conducted from the team hotels.

What it means for the players, coaches, officials and broadcasters, is that they are living in quarantine for three weeks, only travelling from their hotel to the training facility and game arena. No family members can visit them during the tournament.

Despite this, the impression I’m getting from watching the interviews is the players are just happy to be playing again.

Everyone involved is regularly tested and if they test positive for Covid-19, they will be isolated and immediate testing conducted with anyone they came in contact with.

I expect other leagues are watching the German league and taking notes of what they are doing. Both the Spanish and Israeli leagues are about to restart, and of course the NBA is gearing up for a return.

But until we can get back to the day when fans are allowed in arenas again, the German BBL is showing us what the new normal is going to look like.

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