The Bakken Bears run in the FIBA Europe Cup has come to an end. They lost Game 2 of their semi-finals matchup to Scandone Avellino 72-82 at Aarhus. Avellino won Game 1 with 75-72. At the end of the day, the Bears can hold their heads up high. They had an impressive run and are one of Northern Europe’s up and coming teams. This season’s run in the FIBA Europe Cup is just one chapter in an inspiring story of the growth of one of Denmark’s top basketball organizations.
Who are the Bakken Bears?
The Bakken Bears are a professional basketball team based out of Aarhus, Denmark. Aarhus is the second-largest city in Denmark and is located on the east coast of the Jutland peninsula. The team was founded in 1953, and originally the name was Aarhus Basketball Forening (ABF). In 1962 they changed their name to Skovbakken Basketball. In 2000, it switched to its current name, the Bakken Bears.
Denmark is not a big basketball market, but the Bakken Bears can proudly call the Danish Basketligaen their domain. The Basketligaen was founded in 1998, but the original Danish League has been around since 1957. The Bakken Bears are the all-time leaders as far as championships won are concerned. They have captured 15 Danish League titles in the organization’s history. Those cover a 20-year range, spanning from 1997 to 2017.
They have won the Danish Cup nine times. The first was in 1999. Also, they recently held the gold cup above their heads this 2018.
Their biggest domestic rival is Horsens IC. Horsens were back-to-back Basketligaen champions in 2014-15 and 2015-16. The Bears found their way back to the top of the podium in 2016-17. The rivalry is so entrenched in the Danish hoops fan base, that the Bears set a spectator record of 5,812 people in a game against Horsens IC on November 7th, 2015 at Jyske Bank Boxen.
The team’s all-time leading scorer is a big man, Chris Christoffersen (218 cm) with 4,477 points. He is currently on the team’s active roster, so you can expect him to further improve on his legacy with the team.
Bakken Bears, Current Team, and Stats
This season, Devaughn Akoon-Purcell is the team’s leading scorer in the Danish League play with 18.7 points per game. He averaged similar numbers (18.6 ppg) in 18 games in the FIBA Europe Cup. Devaughn Akoon-Purcell is a 24-year-old forward who has citizenship from the USA and Trinidad and Tobago. The team has been leaning on him heavily all season for his scoring. Akoon-Purcell sports a usage rate of 29 percent. This means that he was used in 29 percent of the team’s plays while he is on the floor. This is his second season with the Bears. He joined them in 2016 after graduating from Illinois State University.
Doug Wiggins has been orchestrating the team’s offense and led the team in assists with 4.3 assists per game. Wiggins is a 30-year-old veteran who is in his first year with Bakken.
The Bakken Bears roster might be stacked with imports right now, but they are being guided by Danish coach Steffen Wich. Furthermore, he has been with the organization since 1997. He is the team’s longest-tenured coach. His record currently stands at 426 games. Aside from this season, he has been their head coach in 2012-13. Wich was a coaching assistant for the team from 2008 to 2010. He has two Danish League championships (2008, 2009) and three Danish Cups (2009, 2010, 2018) under his belt.
Bakken Bears and International Competition
Their exit from the FIBA Europe Cup this season can be attributed to a lack of experience. The team has struggled to close out tight games. Consequently, when the final score has a difference of 10 points or less, Bakken loses 63 percent of the time. Conversely, when the difference is greater than 10 points, the Bears win 70 percent of those games. This also means that they are more successful when they are in a dominant position.
One of the keys to their recent success is the team’s offense. They rank in the top-10 in offensive rating among FIBA Europe Cup teams. The Bears scored 116.1 points per 100 possessions. They favor a fast pace and like to mix things up, scoring both in the paint and from beyond the 3-point arc.
The Bakken Bears found similar success in the FIBA Europe Cup 2015-16 when they went 6-0 in Group F of the regular season. The organization is steadily making a name for themselves as an up and coming basketball organization in Europe. They participated in the Basketball Champions League 2016-17 but were not successful in that league. The Bears finished last in Group A with a 1-13 record.
In 2014-15 the Bears had a rough run in the EuroChallenge. They finished fourth in Group C of the regular season with a 0-6 record.
That said, despite the recent peaks and valleys, their trajectory maintains an upward trend.
What’s Next for the Bakken Bears?
Bakken Bears is a very promising team. Their future will be dependent mainly on whether or not they add to their already large current pool of multi-national sponsors. Their main sponsors are KAJ OVE MADSEN A / S Aarhus, Danbolig, and NYBOLIG ERHVERV AARHUS. Gaining more sponsors and partners will mean a larger salary base that the team can work with to acquire top-tier international basketball talent.
It’s a symbiotic relationship. Because the Bakken Bears also have to keep performing at a high level, both at home and abroad. On that front, they appear to be on the right track.
In the years to come, expect the Bakken Bears to see more playoff action and even win championships, hopefully, international as well as domestic.