Club Profile: ratiopharm Ulm

Jul 24, 2020 by Print
Club Profile: ratiopharm Ulm

ratiopharm Ulm started a new era last season with former EuroLeague champion point guard Jaka Lakovic making his head coaching debut after replacing Thorsten Leibenath, who ended his eight-year reign and became the club’s sporting director. Ulm also added 18-year-old talent Killian Hayes and made him the main point guard alongside veteran Zoran Dragic. The club struggled to stay close in its first two EuroCup games, losing by 15 points at home in Round 1 against Segafredo Virtus Bologna and by 19 points at MoraBanc Andorra. Ulm led in the closing minutes in Round 3 at home against Promitheas Patras but slipped late to fall 67-70. Round 4 saw Ulm fall apart in the fourth quarter in an 82-65 defeat at AS Monaco. Lakovic finally got his first EuroCup win as head coach in Round 5 as Ulm grabbed a 103-89 home win over Maccabi Rishon LeZion with Dragic scoring 33 points and Hayes tallying 15 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 steals. Ulm was close to building upon that win at Virtus in Round 6; it led 67-77 with 6:30 left to go. But Ulm allowed a 12-2 run and lost 92-91. In the final game of the regular season at Rishon, Ulm was up 69-81 with less than 3 minutes to play, but the game went to overtime where Ulm fell 96-92. In the German Cup, Ulm reached the semifinals where it met its match against EWE Baskets Oldenburg, losing 76-84 at home. In the German League, Ulm started with a home win but then lost five straight games. The Dragic-Hayes combo started to flourish and Ulm ran off an 8-2 run. However, after Dragic left the club to play for Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz in the EuroLeague, and Ulm lost its next five games for a 10-10 record when the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the season. Playing without Hayes, Ulm was one of the biggest surprises of the season-ending tournament, going 4-0 in group play and then racing past Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt in the quarterfinals before getting bounced by MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in the semifinals. This season, Ulm will be playing its sixth consecutive EuroCup campaign – and eighth in the last nine years.


2019-20 EuroCup 1-9 Regular Season
2018-19 EuroCup 8-8 Top 16
2017-18 EuroCup 2-8 Regular Season
2016-17 EuroCup 4-10 Last 32
2015-16 EuroCup 5-11 Last 32
2013-14 EuroCup 11-7 Eighthfinal
2012-13 EuroCup 7-7 Quarterfinal

TOTAL: 98 38-60

ratiopharm Ulm has emerged as one of Germany's best-known clubs as it prepares for its sixth straight EuroCup campaign. 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 shortly thereafter. 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 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 Wurzburg 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 the German League semifinals and 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 advanced past the regular season in the EuroCup in both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 campaigns. After reaching the 2016 German League finals, Ulm's 30-2 record the following season 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. After missing the German League playoffs and the EuroCup Top 16 in 2018, Ulm bounced back in the 2018-19 season. The team collected eight wins in the EuroCup and was one victory away from reaching the playoffs. Ulm returned to the German playoffs, but ALBA Berlin stood in its way in the quarterfinals. Last season, Ulm started a new era with head coach Jaka Lakovic, who replaced Thorsten Liebenath after eight seasons of leading the club. Ulm managed just one win in the EuroCup and failed to get out of the regular season group phase for the second time in its eight appearances in the competition. Ulm was bounced in the semifinals of the German Cup by Oldenburg. In the German League, Ulm played will in the end-of-season tournament to reach the semifinals, where it was ousted by MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg. Now Lakovic and his men will look to build upon their improvement in their first season together.