Actually, Niels Giffey should be in Bamberg these days. In the former German basketball stronghold, the national team is currently preparing for the World Cup qualifier against Finland on Friday.
Giffey was planned as one of three European Championship heroes, should give stability to the once again wildly mixed squad together with local hero Christian Sengfelder and Justus Hollatz and bring the momentum of the bronze medal won. But instead of in Bamberg, Giffey is currently training in Munich, around 230 kilometers away. Because since Tuesday it has been clear what has been speculated for a few days - Giffey is now wearing the FC Bayern jersey and has committed himself to Munich until the summer of 2025.
Giffey: "Obviously a special step for me"
So these are turbulent days for the 31-year-old - and the next ones won't be any less exciting. Because if everything goes according to plan, the two-time US college champion will celebrate his debut on Thursday in his hometown Berlin of all places in the German Euroleague duel between Alba and Bavaria (8 p.m. / Magentasport).
"This is of course a special step for me and also an emotional one that I thought about for a long time," said Giffey, who only switched to Murcia a few weeks ago for the strong Spanish ACB. The fans in Berlin will not greet him warmly on Thursday. After the announcement of the change, there was already strong criticism on the relevant internet forums about the decision of the small forward, who had worn the Alba jersey a total of 245 times in the Bundesliga from 2014 to 2021 and went to Lithuania last year by winning the German championship to Zalgiris Kaunas.
"But Munich is now a very good option for me, also because of the long-term perspective," said Giffey, who is meeting up with many old acquaintances from the national team at Bayern in Paul Zipser, Andreas Obst, Isaac Bonga and Nick Weiler-Babb. On Thursday there will also be a reunion with Maodo Lo and Johannes Thiemann in Berlin, with whom he won the first German medal in 17 years in the Mercedes-Benz Arena in mid-September.
The fact that five European Championship heroes are on the floor in the Euroleague on Thursday instead of playing for Germany in the World Cup qualifier the day after shows the madness that has prevailed in international basketball for several years. There have long been conflicts between the world association Fiba and the privately organized Euroleague regarding the game calendar. In the European premier class, the game will continue to be played in international game windows. The change at the top of the Euroleague hasn't changed that.
Decision: FC Bayern or DBB selection
So Giffey practically got himself into trouble with his transfer. Because he can only play one of the two games. And the hands of the German Basketball Association are once again tied. "It may be that he plays for Bayern on Thursday. The club makes the decision because he is under contract there," said Armin Andres as DBB Vice President of the dpa.
Whether Giffey and Co. will be in the second game of the qualifying window on Monday in Slovenia is also not yet certain. "We're still trying to see if there's still a chance. The players are interested, but the pressure is very high because they didn't have a break at all after the European Championship," said Andres. And since Germany is almost certainly qualified for the World Cup next year, the need to nominate the players who have been under a lot of pressure is not so great. Giffey could also take a breather after a turbulent few days.