Some things in life are not extraordinary really, but just standard like if Glamour girl Paris Hilton were to visit Jack Nicholson in the Staple center and ask for his sunglasses, if New England Patriot Tom Brady wins another showdown against Peyton Manning as he did recently upping his record to 8-4 against the 49 touchdowns in a season quarterback or loved actor Wesley Snips having to go to jail because of forgetting to pay taxes, but one matter that is anything but common, but very special will be the reunion between popular Derrick Allen and his ex team The Deutsche Bank Skyliners who will meet head to head for the first time this Sunday since the Alabama native left for the German capital last summer. Allen played three years in the German bank capital and quickly became loved by the fans like a good old American hotdog is an American Baseball stadium in the States, similar to how Mr incredible Jeff Gibbs was cherished in Ulm and how German Formula one driver Sebastian Vettel is increasing his status in Germany every day more since winning the Formula One championship recently. This game will be a hard fought game, but at the same time should be a lot of fun for the man everyone calls D.A. “It has to be a great feeling to play against your old team. You want to prove that you belonged or you made the right choice to leave. It is always hard to play against that old team, because it is still in your heart. It is like fighting your brother. You don´t want to, but have to”, stressed Phoenix Hagen guard Mark Dorris. The game against Frankfurt might not be a final game, but will be of big importance either way for Allen. “I am sure that D.A wants to go out and have a big game against Frankfurt, but at the same time when the ball goes up, it will be just like a normal game for him and he will play as hard as any other game”, stressed TBB Trier guard John Bynum. Allen might also have the standings on his mind not only his Frankfurt memories. “It will be a big game with second place on the line. I am sure that Allen will want to beat Frankfurt”, stressed Phoenix Hagen forward Quentin Pryor.
Experts had come out of the wood work early last summer questioning the decision by Allen to come to Alba Berlin. The game of Derrick Allen seemed possibly not to really fit or be able to mesh with the game plan of coach Luka Pavicevic, but Allen proved all doubters wrong as he has found his groove very quickly in the Alba Berlin system as he was top scorer in some games in the Euroleague qualifying games and already twice this season on a team that is filled with excessive scoring punch. He seems to be a force in the Alba Berlin offense. “Allen is always in constant motion and the Alba Berlin pick and role offense has taken advantage of it. He is constantly setting screens and rolling which will free up the shooters”, warned Quentin Pryor. The fast success by Allen doesn´t to surprise his peers at the least. “D.A is just doing what he does best. He will always be successful wherever he plays because he works so hard and that is why he is so respected around the league. He is always a tough match up and one of the best players in the BEKO BBL”, commented John Bynum. Allen was known in Frankfurt for his beautiful ballerina moves that made opponents sometimes get dizzy and wish for a roller coaster trip instead of watching the American do his thing in the zone. Allen also was known for tearing up the track on summer day in 2009 and running a 10,7 in the 100. Allen can put that to good use on the fast break. In the last years, Frankfurt was able to watch Allen do these things and now he will be doing it against them. “Frankfurt will have to trip Derrick Allen and Alba Berlin as he tries to use his ballerina moves. The best way to stop his 10,7 speed is simply not to race him, but chase him in the other direction”, joked Mark Dorris.
With Alba Berlin, there is always pressure to perform in each game, because everyone expects them to bring back a sack of titles each season. From 2003-2008, Alba Berlin was only able to win one single league title in 2008, but were unable to repeat in 2009. The pressure for Alba Berlin is so huge and similar to ex Baywatch star David Hasselhoff not falling off a stage drunk, The New England Patriots not making any costly mistakes in crunch time or Paris Hilton not being caught off guard in a limousine. “I can imagine that Alba Berlin has much pressure. It reminds me off our last season in the second Bundesliga. You learn to deal with it and shift it in a positive direction. You learn to make a healthy arrogance which helps strengthen the self confidence. Our five game playoff series against Alba Berlin was a great experience. There were very tight games even though that we were the clear underdog. I think they underestimated us and and as we got hot, we knew that we could beat them”, commented ex Paderborn center Marius Nolte. For Skyliner captain Pascal Roller, the pressure that Alba Berlin has is something he has also felt in Frankfurt. “The pressure with Alba Berlin is very high. They have a big budget, great players and need to always win, but we have had this in Frankfurt also. We have had very good team sin the past and have felt it also. It is only normal to always want to get better, which also gets up the motivation which helps to battle the pressure”, warned Skyliner guard Pascal Roller. Last season, Alba Berlin were unable to full fill the expectations of winning the title losing to The Deutsche Bank Skyliners in four games in the quarterfinals. There only big accomplishment was reaching the Eurocup final, but losing against BC Valencia. They had some good stretches during the season including a 8 game winning streak and another time winning eight of nine games, but towards the end of the regular season were starting to run out of gas finishing the season with a record of 6-5. Alba Berlin had a very talented roster, but didn´t come to together in the most important time of the season in the playoffs against Frankfurt.
Alba Berlin did a house cleaning last summer keeping only BEKO BBL stars Julius Jenkins and Immanuel Mcelroy and future star in the making Luka Staiger. The team has got very strong replacements at every position and could form a more than potent second starting five coming from the bench. Which BEKO BBL team wouldn´t like to start a Holis Price, Bryce Taylor, Patrick Femmerling, Yassin Idbhi, or a Sven Schultze? Alba Berlin is one of the strongest teams in the BEKO BBL now. They have quality bench players that could start for other teams”, warned Quentin Pryor. Currently Alba Berlin is in 3rd place with a record of 7-1. No BEKO BBL team ahs scored more than 77 points against Alba Berlin this season. Their only loss was a 77-73 game in Ulm where a team can always lose to the Ulm sixth man their fans. On paper this years club seems to be stronger than last years. “With the way they are playing now, I think that they are stronger than last season. They have better players coming from the bench than last season”, stressed Quentin Pryor. It seems like this season Alba Berlin will be stronger than ever at both ends of the court. “They are so deep. They defend very well and will be in most games. On offense, they have so many guys that can put the ball in the basket. You can´t focus on stopping only one guy”, warned John Bynum. “Berlin has a very balanced team. they have shooters and penetrators to go along with solid low post players”, warned Quentin Pryor.
It is still early and when you have so many weapons on offense, then a team like Alba Berlin could be averaging more than 79 points per game, but how did legendary Miami heat coach Pat Riley say so eloquently but defense wins championships. “The strength of Alba Berlin starts at the defensive end. Imac can guard anybody on the perimeter and then they rotate and make you work for everything. On offense, you can go down the line with Allen, Jenkins, Markovic, Dragicevic etc. Then you have a Hollis Price coming from the bench. they have so many go to guys”, expressed John Bynum. The pick and role has belonged to the Alba Berlin game under Pavicevic since his arrival and this facet of the game is still present more than ever. “The pick and role continued to be very important in the game of Alba Berlin. They have so many options with the pick and role. When you have as much versatility in your lineup like they do, it is so much harder to guard as guys are able to pop and roll to the basket”, stressed John Bynum.
Sometimes when a strong team like Alba Berlin has so much strength in their game, opponents might not right away be aware that their could be some weakness, but no matter who the team is there is always some achilles heel in a team and if not that then there are always the chance of injuries occurring. If Alba Berlin has a weak spot then under the hoop on defense. Good BEKO BBL centers have to take their opportunity and try to do as much damage inside as possible. Allen has never been known as being the best defender inside and Femmerling lacks physical toughness and Idbhi the necessary quickness. “I dont really see any weakness besides a shot blocker down low”, said Quentin Pryor. The strong point of Alba Berlin is their guard play and positions 1-3, but their guards have not really found their top form yet, so Frankfurt should take advantage of this before their form grows.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners are at risk of keeping their 7 game winning streak in the BEKO BBL as they must play in the O-2 arena in Berlin without AJ Moye and Roger Powell(knee injury out at least 6 weeks). Frankfurt has shown in the past that they stick together even stronger then the best glue on earth when the going gets tough. Frankfurt will have to show what they are made off and find a way to win without two of their top players. “It will be tough for Frankfurt, but core guys have to come together and attack as a unit. If Frankfurt can keep it close in the fourth than anything is possible. Frankfurt should take the two injuries as a motivation to get the job done. They should try to turn negative energy into positive energy”, warned Mark Dorris. Frankfurt has had injuries this season and this experience is nothing new for the club. “I think that Frankfurt has to adjust and will. Frankfurt is a very good team and not in second place because of Moye and Powell. The other guys are going to have to step up and make plays”, warned John Bynum. “Every game is difficult, but they have to get contribution from every guy that plays”, declared Quentin Pryor.
Alba Berlin is led by 24 year old 205cm Tadija Dragicevic who comes from Serbia. He is a power forward with great talent, who can score, pass and rebound. Some say he is undersized for the four position, and that he will make a successful transition to the three position, thanks to his great court vision and athletic skills. He started his basketball career for Crvena Zvezda Beograd in 2003 and played there until 2010. In this time, he played 42 international games getting useful experience. Last season, he played League: 15 games: 12.6ppg, 4.5rpg, 1.5apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 64.1%, 3PT: 38.8%, FT: 72.7%; EuroCup: 6 games: 13.8ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 43.2%, 3PT: 38.7%, FT: 68.2%, left in Jan.’10, later that month moved to Lottomatica Virtus Roma (Italy-SerieA): 17 games: 8.6ppg, 3.5rpg, FGP: 53.3%, 3PT: 36.9%, FT: 64.3%. He was drafted by the Utah Jazz (NBA,2rd(53) in 2008 and played NBA Summer league last season for the Utah Jazz. Currently for Alba Berlin, he is averaging 12,9ppg, 6,8rpg and 2,4apg. he is shooting 48% from the field and 43% from the parking lot. Derrick Allen is a 30 year 203cm power forward from Gadsen, Alabama that is playing his first season in Berlin. He is a rugged inside player who attacks the glass, will provide help on the boards, is a solid defender in the post, a competitor and hard worker, can score facing the basket and has shooting range to the foul line. He is playing his seventh season in Germany after playing two years in Karlsruhe, one season in Leverkusen and three years in Frankfurt. With the Deutsche Bank Skyliners, Allen reached the playoffs each season and lost a heart breaker fifth game in the 2010 BEKO BBL finals by two points. He played 148 games in his three years and never played a game where he dogged a play. Allen is searching for his first BEKO BBL title in Berlin and is currently averaging 12,9ppg, 3,4rpg and 1,0apg. He is shooting 58% from the field. His rebounding average may be considerably down from other years, but that is because Alba Berlin has much support inside something which he mostly had to do himself in Frankfurt.
29 year old 187 cm guard American Julius Jenkins has developed into one of the top players in the BBL after first being recognized in the 2004-2005 season as he averaged 27,1ppg in the second Bundesliga for Nurnberg. He played a season in Bree, Belgium getting ULEB Cup experience before coming to Berlin in 2006 where he since has become a household name. His best scoring season was 2007-2008 where he played 45 games: Score-3(18.2ppg), 2.9rpg, 2.8apg, 1.2spg, 2FGP: 57.8%, 3FGP: 42.0%, FT: 81.4%. Last season, he played EuroCup: 14 games: 14.0ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.3apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 43.1%, 3PT: 39.1%, FT: 74.3%; German League: 35 games: Score-5(14.8ppg), 1.7rpg, 2.5apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 50.4%, 3PT: 44.3%, FT: 80.2%
He is an explosive scorer from the point guard or the shooting guard position; possesses the ability to score and create his own shot at anytime; Has very long arms and great leaping ability; unlimited range on the jump shot, which allows him to stretch the defense. “You have to pray that he misses. You have to be physical with him and make sure the bigs hedge hard on ball screens”, warned Omari Westley. With Berlin, Jenkins has won a number of awards such as Bundesliga All-Star Game -08 (MVP), Bundesliga Champion -08 (Finals MVP), and German Bundesliga Cup Winner -09 (FinalFour MVP). Currently he is averaging 12,1ppg, 2,0rpg and 1,9apg. He has gotten off to a quick start shooting 47% from the field and 47% from outside.
30 year old 193cm guard Immanuel Mcelroy is playing his fourth season in Berlin and is averaging 9,1ppg, 4,1rpg and 3,9apg this season. He played at Cincinnati (NCAA) and reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2001. He already made a name for himself winning titles with Rhein Energy Cologne His overall quickness, combined with his mental toughness, makes him well-suited as a defender in the attacking defense. He is very athletic, a 40-inch vertical jump and a bench press approaching 300 pounds, ability to break defenders down with his dribble and his explosiveness to the basket makes him an effective scorer. He also possesses good court vision and excellent ball-handling skills, giving him the ability to distribute the ball, particularly in the transition game. He is a natural leader who makes others around him better players. He also has very much experience having won three BBL cups and two BBL league titles. “If you want to slow down Mcelroy, you have to deny him the ball and give him the jump shot until he starts to make some”, warned Omari Westley. Mcelroy who has never been known as a good shooter has really improved his shooting the last few and is shooting 51,9% from the field, but has started off slow shooting form the Berlin tower at 22,2%. Mcelroy may not score 20 points every night, but he belongs to the top players in the BEKO BBL, because he can really do it all on the court and is also one of the top defenders in the league.
27 year old 183cm point guard Marko Marinovic is playing his first season for Alba Berlin. the 8 time BEKO BBL team was so impressed by the Eurocup game by Marinovic with B.C Valencia last season against Alba Berlin that they just couldn´t resist signing the Serbian. Last season for BC Valencia, he played EuroCup: 15 games: 6.9ppg, 1.0rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 42.9%, 3PT: 39.6%, FT: 82.1%; Spanish League: 28 games: 7.2ppg, 1.3rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 54.2%, 3PT: 33.0%, FT: 75.8%. He started his basketball career in 2000 with Borac Cacak where he played until 2003. he then played for Reflex Beograd from 2003-2005 and played 14 ULEB Cup games. He then got some experience playing in Spain for Girona and Vive Menorca. For Girona (Spain-ACB), he played FIBA EuroCup: 17 games: 9.5ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.9apg, 1.1spg, 2FGP: 59%, 3FGP: 23.2%, FT: 89.4%; Spanish League: 34 games: 11.6ppg, 2.9rpg, 2.5apg, 1.1spg, 2FGP: 55.0%, 3FGP: 33.0%, FT: 77.0%. The team also brought back an old friend with Hollis Price who played in Berlin from 2005-2006 where he helped the club win the 2006 BEKO BBL cup and played ULEB Cup: 10 games: 12.9ppg, 3.6rpg, 3.0apg, 1.6spg, 2FGP: 48.6%, 3FGP: 44.2%, FT: 85.7%; German League: 42 games: 15.0ppg, 3.6rpg, Assists-3(4.9apg), 1.8spg, 2FGP: 45.8%, 3PT: 40.9%. He played at Oklahoma from 1999-2003, where he reached the NCAA Final 4 in 2002 and NCAA Elite 8 in 2003. At Oklahoma, he finished NCAA career as seventh all time leading scorer, was all time leading free throw shooting percentage, second in all time three point field goals, fourth all time in steals and eighth all time in three point field goal percentage. He has played in countries like France, Lithuvania, Russia and Italy. Last season, he played shortly for the Artland Dragons arriving in February playing 3 Eurochallenge games: 6.7ppg, 1.0rpg, 2.0apg; German League: 10 games: 7.7ppg, 2.5rpg, 3.4apg, FGP: 42.3%, 3PT: 41.4%, FT: 82.6%. This season, Price is averaging 6,5ppg, 2,0rpg and 3,1apg. He is shooting 45,7% from the field and 47% from the three point line. Price is a great combo guard, with good court vision and great shooting accuracy from outside. Knows how to create his own shot, can defend on taller opponents, has experience at to level. Having Price come from the bench only agitates opponents even more.
The team also brought back a familiar face with very experienced Sven Schultze who played many years for The German national team. He is a 32 year old 206cm power forward that was born in Bamberg. He is a very strong player with a deadly shot. With his size, he will post up the opponents small forwards and outrun the opponents power forwards. He is able to defend bigger players, but also agile enough to defend smaller ones. He can drop the three pointer in a variety of ways which gives Luka Pavicevic so many more ways of using him. He also is very dangerous on the fast break as he can with the speed of a point guard and then dunk. He started his career with Bamberg and then played for Alba Berlin from 1998-2002 winning four BEKO BBL titles. He then played for the Bayer Giants Leverkusen until 2005 before going south to Play in Italy in Milian, Udine and Biella. he also played shortly in Greece for Larissa. He finished last season playing for Ferrara (Italy-SerieA): 13 games: 8.8ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.2spg, FGP: 60.6%, 3PT: 41.5%, FT: 75.0%. He won a silver in Belgrad in 2005 at the European Championships and played at the Olympic games 2008 in Bejing. This season, he is averaging 5,8ppg and 1,5rpg and can light up a game in an instance off the bench.
The club also brought back a real German legend with Patrick Femerling who is a 35 year old 216cm center who has just about won everything there is to win in European basketball. This is the third tour of duty for the German national player after having played in Berlin from 1998-2000 and from 2007-2009. Between this time, he played for top European clubs like Olympiakos Pireus, VC Barcelona and Panathinaikos Athens and Caja Sevilla. He has won 13 titles in his basketball career including the Euroleague in 2003 with FC Barcelona and winning a Bronze at the World Championships in 2002 and a Silver at teh 2005 European championships. He has won 3 BEKO BBL titles and two cups. Femerling may be 35, but can still give productivity in limited minutes and has the most experience on the team. This season, he is averaging 5,6ppg and 1,6rpg. The team also added 27 year old 208cm forward/center Yassin Idbihi from Cologne is playing his first season in Berlin. He can score, but is not so fast, but has potent moves. He played at The University of Buffalo from 2003-2007 and finished as the school´s fourth all time leading scorer with 1,514 points and the third all time leading rebounder with 844. He became the first player in school history to score 1,500 points and 800 rebounds. He played with the Cologne 99ers and had some experience playing in France for Limoges. Last season, he help lead The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig into the BEKO BBL semi finals losing against The Brose Baskets Bamberg. Last season, he played games 39 games averaging 10.7ppg, 5.2rpg, FGP: 56.2%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 80.0%. This season, he is averaging 4,5ppg and 2,0rpg. He has had problems getting playing time, because of the strong and deep Alba Berlin roster. Luka Staiger who is a 22 year old 196 cm shooting guard returns back for a second season after coming late in the season last year coming from the NCAA from Iowa. He started his basketball career for TSG Ehingen and played there from 2003-2007. He then departed over the big pond to the NCAA to Iowa where he played until 2010. He played 49 NCAA games for Iowa, but was unhappy about how he was being used on the court and decided to return to Germany. Last season, he played 7 BEKO BBL games averaging 3,3ppg. He got his start in the German national team in 2009 in Poland at the European championships and got more of a role this past summer at the World Championships in Turkey -10: 4 games: 7.3ppg, 1.0rpg, FGP: 66.7%, 3PT: 37.5%. He once scored 106 points as a 16 year old. This season, he is averaging 3,1ppg and 1,0rpg.
The team also got some insurance by bringing in 24 year old 196cm shooting guard Bryce Taylor who hails from San Diego, California. He is the son of former NBA player Brian Taylor. He is a great sharpshooter with an aggressive dribble drive and has a keen understanding of the game. He played at Oregon from 2004-2008. In his senior year at Oregon, he averaged 12.8ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 46.1%, 3Pts: 38.2%, FT: 82.3% in 30 games. two seasons ago, he turned professional and played in Italy for Premiata Montegranaro playing 30 games: and averaging 13.0ppg, 2.4rpg, 1.6spg, FGP: 54.2%, 3PT: 36.9%, FT: 82.6%. Last season in Bonn, he played 6 Eurocup games: 18.5ppg, 3.3rpg, 1.0apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 56.3%, 3PT: 36.4%; German League: 34 games: 12.5ppg, 2.6rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 46.8%, 3PT: 31.0%, FT: 81.4%. This past summer, he played NBA Summer league for the Indiana Pacers. he first got a short term contract form Alba Berlin, but recently got a contract extension until the end of the season. This season, Taylor is averaging 1,6ppg and 1,4rpg. The team also has young German Andreas Seiferth who is a 21 year old 206cm center from Berlin. He has been a member of the German U-16, U-18 and U-20 national teams and also has a license to play for Alba Berlin 2(Regionaliga). His brother Martin is playing his first season for the University of Oregon.
Since the climatic semi final win over Alba Berlin in 2005, where guys like Chris Williams and Tyrone Ellis led the then Opel Skyliners into the BBL final, Frankfurt has only a 7-9 record against the Albatros, but have built installed a special albatross cage in the Ballsporthalle which has rewarded them with a 5-2 record. One of the biggest and most emotional wins in the last years was the 81-67 trouncing in January 2006 as it was the debut of ex Skyliner coach Charles Barton. It was only a shame that the team was unable to take this big win and grow off it as they won little more that season and had to win on the last day at home against The EWE Baskets Oldenburg to stay in the BBL. Some nice wins in the last years was the 74-58 win in 2008 as American Derrick Allen added 19 points and six rebounds and in 2009, they won 73-66 as ex Skyliner Lorenzo Gordon chipped in with 15 points and six rebounds. Last season, the two teams split the season series 1-1 as Alba Berlin held Frankfurt to 53 points in the Ballsporthalle and winning. Frankfurt returned to Berlin to win 76-70 as Derrick Allen led the team with 18 points. Frankfurt then surprisingly kicked out Alba Berlin in the playoffs 3-1 winning game four at home 69-58 as Derrick Allen had 26 points.
The chances for The Deutsche Bank Skyliners to escape the O-2 arena with a win have gotten very much worse with the injuries to Moye and Powell, but Frankfurt have confidence of a long winning streak and role players who continue to shine in the last weeks. With guys like Dashaun Wood, Quantez Robertson, Dominik Bahiense De Mello and Jimmy Mckinney, the team should run run run. “Frankfurt has to play their style and control the rebounds. It will favor Frankfurt more if the game is more up tempo since Alba Berlin likes the half court game. Frankfurt is smart enough to know when to run and when not to”, warned John Bynum. Frankfurt did a great job last season stopping the pick and roll with Sekulic and Chubb and now must do it again with different players. “Frankfurt has to find a way to control their pick and role. Alba Berlin lives and dies with their pick and role”, warned Quentin Pryor. Frankfurt also can´t forget that Alba Berlin wont be doing everything inside. “Frankfurt must attack and be more aggressive. They have to keep alba Berlin to one shot per possession and guard the three point line because they are dangerous from there”, warned Mark Dorris. So far no BEKO BBL team has come up with a way to stop the penetration from Dashaun Wood. If a Mcelroy can do it will be the question. One player is already marking the 11 of December on his calendar because that is when the Wood-Dorris showdown will occur again since they haven´t played since college. “I am watching the progress of Wood from a far. We will see what will happen on the 11th. Wood is playing great at the moment and has a great rhythm at the moment. It always depends how well you are feeling on how good you play. It is the same with me”, warned Mark Dorris. Alba Berlin hosts The Deutsche Bank Skyliners on November 28th at 17:00.