ratiopharm Ulm came into the 2016-17 season ready to make some noise and did just that when, after losing its season opener at eventual finalist Valencia Basket, it won three straight games, capped by a 103-77 rout of Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem, to move into a tie for first place in Group D at the midway point of the regular season. A 105-101 overtime victory over Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar in which Chris Babb scored 30 put the exclamation point on the team’s ticket to the Top 16. Ulm’s luck ran out in the next stage where it lost three games by a single basket and two more by 5 points before bowing out of the competition. Back home in Germany, Ulm became the team to beat as it topped the German League table with a 30-2 record. But its momentum slowed late in the season and after beating MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg 3-2 in the quarterfinals, its promising run was ended by EWE Baskets Oldenburg in the semifinals, 3-2.
ratiopharm Ulm comes off another fine season in which it made noteworthy achievements both domestically and in Europe as it continues building itself into a force to be reckoned with on the continental level. Ulm is not the first elite basketball team in the city; predecessor SSV Ulm 1846 was competitive for decades and won the German Cup in 1996. SSV folded in 2001 and ratiopharm Ulm was founded right away. Thomas Stoll and Andreas Oettel bought SSV's license to start competing in the German second division. The team, which has always been sponsored by pharmaceutical giant ratiopharm, was promoted to the German elite in 2006 after a 29-1 season. By 2008, Ulm already made it to the German League playoffs. Robin Benzing became its signature player in 2009-10, but Ulm finished in the bottom half of the league. Everything changed for the better when Coach Thorsten Leibenath and center John Bryant came together and took Ulm to a second-place finish in the 2011-12 regular season. Ulm swept New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig and s.Oliver Baskets Wuerzburg in the playoffs to reach the finals against Brose Baskets. Alas, the fairytale run finished with Bamberg winning the title. Ulm enjoyed a great EuroCup debut season, in which it reached the quarterfinals and also reached the German League semifinals and the German Cup final. Bryant was chosen to the 2012-13 All-EuroCup First Team, too. The club returned to the elimination rounds in the 2013-14 EuroCup, before losing to Hapoel Jerusalem in the eighthfinals on point difference. Ulm reached the German League semifinals in the 2014-15 season and has advanced past the regular season in the EuroCup in each of the past two seasons. After reaching the 2016 German League finals, last season Ulm’s 30-2 record saw it finish the German League regular season in first place for the first time before falling 3-2 to EWE Baskets Oldenburg in the playoff semifinals. Ulm is now challenging for titles and of the verge of becoming a true force.