|Germany international Anne Breitreiner is one of the big-name players that form part of Wasserburg's ambitious new project|
By David Hein
TSV 1880 Wasserburg have entered a new era with the departure of long-running coach Hans Brei and the return of star player Anne Breitreiner as the German club set their sights on dominating the DBBL league over the long term and establishing themselves at the European level.
But Bastian Wernthaler, who took over from Brei during the off-season, is aware that building up a name in Europe will take a long time.
"Our goal is over the next three to five years to be dominant in Germany and be champions and make a name in Europe," said the former German women's national team coach.
"We want to compete with these EuroCup Women teams and bring the German national team players up to this level.
"It's clear that it will not happen in the first season. We are playing in the EuroCup Women and just want to get our footing there."
When asked how high Wasserburg are thinking, Wernthaler said: "If a German team can establish themselves in the EuroCup Women over the next five years so that it's regularly a candidate for the quarter-finals that would be a high goal.
"The EuroLeague Women is still very, very far away when you look at the situation and standards in Germany."
"The draw was a small shock for us when we saw Novosibirsk. But it wasn't a surprise that we would get at least one Russian team. What can you say? We will be on the road an entire week for that game. We see it also as an adventure," said the coach.
"We don't have the experience of the other teams. Our team is entirely new. We want to use the EuroCup Women as an experience and learning tool for our players this year to maybe go after it more next year. It's a long-term project.
|'Our goal is over the next three to five years to be dominant in Germany and make a name in Europe,' says Wasserburg coach Bastian Wernthaler|
"Nantes and Novosibirsk are the clear favorites. We will see if we are even competitive and can win a game at all."
Wernthaler said the EuroCup Women campaign will actually be the more comfortable part of the season.
"In Germany we will face a lot of pressure."
Wernthaler totally rebuilt a Wasserburg team which was swept by Halle Lions in the semi-finals of the German play-offs last season as reigning champions.
The team from southern Germany also won the league title five straight seasons from 2004 to 2008.
The only player returning is Rebecca Thoresen while the top acquisition was a familiar face in German international Breitreiner, who played with Wasserburg from 2004 to 2006 before collecting three years of EuroLeague Women experience and a season in the EuroCup Women in Spain, Poland, France and Italy.
"Anne is certainly the leader within the team and she passes her experience on to the younger players. I worked with her when I coached the German national team. So we know each other and Anne is a central foundation for the team," said Wernthaler.
The coach also brought in German internationals Stina Barnert, who played last season in Spain, and Katharina Fikiel as well as Finnish international Tiina Sten, who spent three of the past four seasons in Spain.
"I think we are on a good way. We want to show the German players that we are serious about the EuroCup Women. We want to show them that we want to work professionally and provide a platform in Europe for German players and others," said Wernthaler.
The commitment to the EuroCup Women was the only way to attract the higher-class players to Wasserburg, and the only way to bring in Wernthaler.
The 35-year-old Wernthaler admits that he has some big shoes to fill in replacing Brei, who led Wasserburg to six league titles and four cup crowns between 2004 and 2012.
"You have a lot of respect when you take on something like this. I only took over because Hans promised to help out. He's very active in video analyzing and scouting.
"He's not gone. He's just taken a step back. We have known each other a while so that makes it a bit easy to succeed him," said Wernthaler.
Now it comes to the test if Wernthaler can have a similar success.