Turkish Airlines Euroleague
December 09, 2013
Robin Benzing, FC Bayern Munich
by: David Hein, Eurocupbasketball.com
December 9, 2011
Long considered one of German basketball’s elite talents, Robin Benzing has made sure to discard the “prospect” tag over the past year and shown that he is ready and able to play big games at the highest levels. After two strong seasons in the German League, Benzing stepped up a level and produced some fine games for the German national team last summer at EuroBasket 2011. And now he has stepped into a starting role for his new club FC Bayern Munich, which holds its destiny in its own hands with two games left in the regular season of its debut Eurocup campaign.
Benzing credits his growth last summer and into this season to the opportunity he had to team with his childhood hero and German basketball legend Dirk Nowitzki on the German national team. “It was great for me to have the opportunity to spend the summer with him. He is an idol for me,” said the 22-year-old Benzing about his experience in Lithuania with Nowitzki and the German national team. “I always try to watch all I can from him. I observe him a lot and was talking to him as much as I could. He’s always calm and never panics. It was great to see how good he sees everything. I could see and learn a lot of things from him. It was a great opportunity and experience for me.”
As far as his own game, Benzing feels it’s coming along. “It is at the beginning. I developed a little bit, but I can still improve so much. I’m far away from being a great player. I have made some steps in the right direction and I want to build on them and become a better player and get stronger,” said the Seeheim-Jugenheim native, whose twin brother Marian is a student and plays basketball as a hobby for fifth division club SC Bergstrasse.
Robin Benzing is making his debut with Bayern this season after two campaigns with German top flight side ratiopharm Ulm, where he averaged 12.5 and 15.1 points per game in those two years. The 2011-12 season look longer to start for Benzing than he had hoped as he missed the first three games with an ankle injury from the EuroBasket competition.
“The five-week layoff really hurt him because he played great in Lithuania. And then when you can’t play for five weeks, you lose your rhythm and you lose your confidence a little bit. And then it’s an uphill battle. But he’ll be fine,” said Bayern Munich coach Dirk Bauermann, who has coached Benzing the past three summers with the German national team. “He’s a wonderful player. He’s doing so many things for us right now. Offensively the rhythm isn’t quite there. But it’s just a matter of time. He needs to be patient and we need to be patient.”
But within the club there is only so much patience in regards to team performance. Despite being actually a newly-promoted team, which overwhelmingly won the German second division ProA last season, Bauermann, Benzing and the Bayern boys are under at least a bit of pressure. “I think there is pressure. It’s Bayern Munich. We want to win and everybody knows that we want to win. But we as players have to keep the pressure down, stay calm, stay focused and do our thing,” said Benzing.
This is after all FC Bayern – which has in the football world been nicknamed FC Hollywood in the past. And the worlds of football and basketball have already mixed in Munich with the basketball team showing up at UEFA Champions League home games while Bayern football star Bastian Schweinsteiger has become a regular at basketball games where he roots for the home club with a jersey of good friend and Bayern point guard Steffen Hamann.
“It’s great. It’s a new experience. All of a sudden you get some big names at the games – like Schweinsteiger and other prominent actors. You see them on TV and then you see them in real life. It’s great. It’s cool that all the people come to the games. And the attention is good for us and the whole basketball team,” said an excited Benzing.
Over the past couple years, Benzing has been tipped as the next Nowitzki by German fans starved for another great German star to cheer for. Benzing, however, doesn’t take the comparisons seriously, knowing his idol is one of the absolute elite that the game has ever seen.
“I never think about being the next Nowitzki. It’s impossible to be the next Nowitzi. He’s one of kind – like Michael and Magic. Someone to look up to. He’s a legend. You will never get another one of him,” said Benzing. “When someone says ‘you’re going to be the next Nowtizki,’ I just say, ‘I’m thankful that somebody said that.’ It’s a big honor for me. But I never really believe that. I will go my own way and try to become a great basketball player and then we will see what happens.”