(Citynet Statewide Sportsline interview with Alex Ruoff)
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When play in the German Basketball Bundesliga was halted by the pandemic on March 8, former WVU guard Alex Ruoff returned to the United States thinking that the season would be over.
However, compared to many of their European neighbors, Germany’s total of positive cases has been relatively low. So the BBL has returned to action with a ten-team postseason tournament to determine the league champion.
“I had no idea I would be coming back,” Ruoff said. “I am pretty thankful I stayed in shape when I came home because it paid off.
“Germany has done really well as far as the coronavirus goes with their numbers. Once they proposed that the season would resume in a one-location tournament fashion, it was a team decision to participate. My club (Göttingen) decided to participate. They offered me another contract to come back and play.”
Ruoff is in his eleventh season of professional basketball after graduating from WVU in 2009. He has played in the NBA D-League, Belgium, Finland and Spain. Uncertain that the BBL would resume play, most international players headed home in the early stages of the pandemic.
“Most everyone from the U.S., they settled contracts, not thinking anything would resume. There was always that possibility. It is a different system over here as far as sponsorships, media rights and refunds. It was very important for the league’s survival to resume the season in some format.”
Ruoff returned to Germany to rejoin his teammates. The tournament is modeled after FIBA play, with pool play followed by a knockout round tournament. Göttingen has qualified for the quarterfinals and they will return to the court Thursday.
“We have ten teams here and every one gets about 20 to 22 people in full quarantine. We are allowed to go out but we can’t have contact with anybody. We have to wear masks and things like that. It is similar to what the NBA is proposing but on a much smaller scale.”
All games are being played without fans in Munich.
“It is kind of cool. You can hear everything from player’s communication to the benches to timeouts. The other eight teams who aren’t playing are watching in the lobby. All the referees and the other people working are quarantined with us. It is kind of a unique experience. I am really enjoying it. The camaraderie outside the game is kind of fun.”
Fellow former Mountaineer Teyvon Myers is also competing in the tournament. He is on a different roster than the one he played with in the regular season.
“Teyvon played for Giessen this year. He had a great year and did very well. His team didn’t play in this. Another team picked him up for the tournament. So he is playing for Ludwigsburg.
“He has one of the best motors in the world. He is one of my favorite workout partners. He is just a hard worker. He picks up guys 90 feet. He is a playmaker. He can use ball screens and score one-on-one. He is kind of an all-around guy. This was a big year for him. This was the highest level he played at in his career and he really performed well. I am excited for his future.”
The knockout rounds of the tournament feature a unique two-game series structure. The aggregate score of two games will determine which team advances. Essentially, the teams play two complete games and the best total score wins.
“If you win the first game by five, the other team has to win the next game by six in order to win.
“There’s no wasted possessions. Three seconds left (in game one), you are up ten, you are trying to be up twelve.”