FC Bayern: Same name, different game

With the domestic football scene taking a break this weekend it's the perfect opportunity to focus on another flourishing sport in both Germany and Munich. This weekend at the O2 World Arena in Berlin is 'Top Four 2013', effectively the semi-finals and final of the German Basketball Cup. FC Bayern Basketball qualified with an impressive 77:69 win over Brose Baskets (from Bamberg). This victory should not be understated - Bamberg have lifted both the league and cup in Germany for the last three seasons and represent formidable opponents. Indeed, they are the only team above Bayern as the league draws to its conclusion. In Saturday's semi-final Bayern will be up against Alba Berlin, who qualified by default as hosts. Bayern will be hoping to avoid Sunday's first game, the third-place play-off, and have their sights set on lifting only their second ever German Cup, which would be their first for 45 years if they make Sunday evening's showpiece final. The other semi-final sees Ratiopharm Ulm take on Artland Dragons.

Basketball is on the up in Munich. Despite being an original founding member of the German Basketball League in 1966, the club largely fell into disarray and spent most of the time from 1974 onwards in the second and even regional league. However, at the end of the 2007/08 season, it was vowed that the team must return to the top division as soon as possible. This was finally achieved at the end of the 2010/11 season and the club hasn't looked back since. The German League consists of 18 teams, of which the top eight make the post-season play-offs.

Last season Bayern acquitted themselves well in the regular season, finishing in fifth place, earning a best-of-five game play-off against fourth-placed Artland Dragons. Unfortunately, this was a bridge too far for the newly-promoted team. This season, as already mentioned, Bayern find themselves in second place behind Bamberg and, should they hold on to it, a play-off series against the team finishing seventh beckons with games one, three and, if required five, at home. Home advantage could be key - Bayern have won ten on the bounce in the 6,700-seater Audi Dome and would fancy their chances in the play-offs. Even the mighty Bamberg and Saturday's opponents Alba Baskets have been beaten in Munich.

FC Bayern will be looking to add to their two league titles (1954 and 1955) and solitary cup win (1968) this season. First, they will have to break Bamberg's stranglehold and push themselves into the European elite. For FC Bayern Munich a potential golden era beckons and for once, it won't just be in a footballing context.

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