Revenge and long term absence that Alba Berlin is currently suffering can be a very dangerous and uncomfortable experience for any opponent in the beko BBL as Oldenburg and The Deutsche Bank Skyliners recently had to witness in the last weeks, but now they will take this increased stress of the past into the Brose Baskets Bamberg series in the 2011 beko BBl final. Alba Berlin hasn´t been in the beko BBl final since 2008, which might not seem like a long time to a neutral bystander, but for CEO Marco Baldi, it probably seems like an eternity and as horrible as Harry Potter fans seeing the end of the story becoming a reality, George Bush haters not getting the total satisfaction of the ex President getting hit by an errand foul ball at a Texas Rangers-Chicago White Sox game or ex Skyliner coach Murat Didin having to witness and come to terms with being seen by some as a Danny Devito doppelganger. On top of not tasting champagne in three years, the team not only lost the season series to Bamberg, but were drilled on the side of their heads in Bamberg being humiliated 103-52 and the only thing missing was the team departing the arena with bags over their heads. With FC Bayern Munich entering the beko BBL stage next season and ready to rumble with the top teams and Brose Baskets Bamberg being the top team at the moment, Alba Berlin doesn´t want to slide further away from the top and will be as motivated to seek revenge as Dirk Nowitzki had for the game one loss to the Miami Heat taking crunch time in game two into his own hands and scoring the last seven Mavericks points to win game two 95-93, Big Loser contestants in the American TV show impressing new drill sergeant ex tennis goddess Anna Kurnikowa or Paris Hilton trying to upend her party girl image each day with worthy causes. The Brose Baskets Bamberg host Alba Berlin in game one Sunday as both teams enter the finals with long five game series, but Alba Berlin possibly having more momentum coming in having won all three games in Frankfurt and remembering the big 103-52 loss. “Alba Berlin showed that they played with a lot of confidence on the road. They might of had a long series against Frankfurt, but I don´t think they are tired, because they have a long bench. They aren´t tired yet and will have momentum going in. That 51 point loss will still be in their heads. I believe that Alba Berlin will come out with a lot of energy”, stressed Artland Dragon guard Bryan Bailey. The Brose Baskets Bamberg only lost two games all season and had a huge advantage over most of the other 17 BEKO BBL teams in that they have kept a core of their team. This season Bamberg has kept many teams off guard with not just one style of play. “We can play a multitude of different styles. We have players on our roster that can do everything. The style we play depends on our opponent and style of game they play. We will always be able to tailor our game to match the opponent”, added Bamberg forward Kyle Hines.
It seems like Bamberg have no weak spot at any position. “We are a strong team and have depth at every position with a number of players being able to play multiple positions”, said Kyle Hines. But the biggest strength of the Brose Baskets Bamberg is something that every team in basketball any where on earth strive to have. “We simply play team basketball. We have developed a chemistry in a short time. There is no player on this team that is looking for individual stats. Each guy is interested in trying to do what is best for the team to have success”, warned Kyle Hines. The Brose Baskets Bamberg started off the season so hot winning their first 17 games in a row that it seemed like talk of an undefeated season was not a far fetched idea. However the Gloria Giants Duesseldorf proved that anything is possible in the BEKO BBL as they upset Bamberg 72-69. “A season is long and tough and it is really tough to go undefeated at anything. One should not forget that Bamberg played very many games already”, stated John Bynum. They have blown away most of the competition with ease holding teams to under 70 points 26 times. They average 82 points per game and have only built on the strong team chemistry that was already present early in the season. “Bamberg seem to get better with each game that they have played. The Euroleague games also have helped them get better”, added John Bynum. You would have thought that teams would have an easier time the second time around, but that wasn´t the case. “In the second half of the season, teams are able to see more of a pattern of play of their opponents and know more about each individual player by film and other things that they didnt have in the first half. After playing a team once, you are better at evaluating things better and you can also see them play against teams before you as well”, said John Bynum. But Bamberg lost only once in the second half of the season in Goettingen and won each home game. Bamberg won the quarterfinal series against the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven 3-0, but it wasn´t a cake walk as Bremerhaven was in the first two games losing in crunch time. In game 3, Bamberg manhandled Bremerhaven 86-58 having the big rebound edge 50-33, having 6 guys in double figurers and sending the club of coach Doug Spradley into summer vacation. Bamberg had to go the distance against The Artland Dragons winning 3-2, but remained faithful to their home court advantage winning each home game and still being undefeated this season at home. Bamberg was never seriously threatened at home as they put away the Artland Dragons 83-55 in game five as the opponent were missing Nathan Peavy and just had little energy left in their tank to compete for 40 minutes with a non stop aggressive Bamberg club. Alba Berlin is one of the strongest teams in the BEKO BBL now despite going through some changes this season. The team started the season well going 8-1 in the first months losing only on the road to Ratiopharm Ulm. However towards the end of 2010, Alba Berlin went through a small drought period losing three games in a row including a 103-52 trouncing in Bamberg, in which the bus ride home might have felt like an eternity for the team. The air seemed thin along the Spree in Alba world as the team failed to reach the Eurocup final 16 and first got rid of point guard Hollis Price who unfairly was made an escape goat. The club that said farewell to Luka Pavicevic who had been at the helm since 2007 winning two titles with Alba Berlin. The team brought in Muli Katzurin from Israel who had won the Czech league titles and cups from 2007-2010. Since the arrival of Katzurin the team is 9-4 and have won four of their last five games. The team also have brought in guards Heiko Schaffartzik who still hasn´t found his rhythm, 2010 Eurochallenge winner Taylor Rochestie with BG Goettingen and 23 year old 213 cm Serb talent Miroslav Raduljica to help under the hoop. The team recently also released guard Marko Marnovic as well. Despite the many changes and whirlwind happenings, the team should be playing for the title. “Alba is a solid team and have had ups and downs this season but they are still a team that will be around at the end of the season in my opinion. They have had to go through a coaching change but they have the talent to beat any of the top teams. I think that they have the talent and the players for sure to win the title”, warned John Bynum. With the coaching change, how much has the style changed from Pavicevic to Katzurin? “I think they are more up tempo and not as predictable as they once were. They were running a lot more sets with the old coach but now I think they have more freedom and they have players that can excel more in that style of play”, stressed John Bynum. “Alba Berlin has a different kind of rotation now. The biggest quality is that they are a lot more unpredictable than under Luka Pavicevic. They mix it up on defense as teams never really know what will be thrown at them next. Alba Berlin sought revenge after losing in 2005 and 2010 to the Deutsche Bank Sklyiners by winning a tight five games semi final series against Frankfurt. The series was very curious, since no team was able to win a single home game. Key in the series was the team that got the better start usually won. In game five Alba Berlin shot very well, controlled the boards, got many easy baskets, made a majority of the hustle plays and was able to contain beko BBL MVP Dashaun Wood well. Frankfurt also seemed a bit tired, couldn´t keep pave with the deeper Alba Berlin rotation and had no recipe to stop the Alba Berlin inside play as they were able to take advantage of the size advantage. The Brose Baskets Bamberg have a strong and valuable guard trio of John Goldsberry(4,2ppg, 1,7rpg, 4,1apg), Anton Gavel(10,8ppg, 2,6rpg, 2,2apg) and Brian Roberts(10,3ppg, 2,2rpg, 3,4apg). Goldsberry probably the most unselfish player at the moment in the league can change a game with his defense as he once had 10 steals with Leverkusen, Gavel will hurt you with his threes and extra pass ability and just when you thought that you could have a breather on defense, in comes Roberts who can score in bunches quicker than Ray Allen can releases his bombs from the corner.Alba Berlin has the deepest guard personal in the beko BBL. After having start problems at the point, the club released veteran Hollis Price and Serb Marko Marinovic. The club brought in Heiko Schaffartzik(3,6ppg, 1,2rpg and 1,7apg in 9,58 min per game) who has had problems finding his rhythm, but has gotten more playing time recently. He had a strong game five in Frankfurt with 10 points and five assists. What the German can do on offense is unlimited as he shoots first and penetrates second. He is a great one on one player. His biggest weapon is his shooting as he loves the catch and pop and off the dribble shooting. The team also has solved their starting point guard problem bringing in Taylor Rochestie(8,8ppg, 3,9apg, 2,7rpg) from Turkey. Ever since Rochestie dropped 26 points for BG Goettingen last season in a road win against Alba Berlin, the club seemed fascinated by his killer instinct in stress situations. Since his arrival, he has shined with his scoring and playmaking scoring in double figures in 8 of his 12 games with Alba Berlin. At the shooting guard position, the team has unending talent with Julius Jenkins(14,3ppg, 2,1rpg, 2,6apg) Immanuel Mcelroy(9,9ppg, 3,7rpg 3,3apg), Bryce Taylor(7,8ppg, 3,6rpg, 2,1apg and Luka Staiger(3,5ppg, 1,2rpg,). Both Jenkins and Mcelroy can help out at the point as well. Jenkins is one of the deadliest shooters in the league and even though it seems like he is having an average season due to the deep team, he is right at the top in stats and can still decide a game in crunch time. Mcelroy won his 5th best defender of the year award and his overall quickness, combined with his mental toughness, makes him well-suited as a defender in the attacking defense under Katzurin. 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. On offense, he always has the ability to get triple doubles. Taylor is the big winner of the season. He came to Alba Berlin on a short term contract and probably never expected to still be with the team, but is development continued to soar and under new coach Katzurin has really flourished not only with his scoring, hustle and energy on defense, but also helping under the boards where he got two double doubles this season. With Staiger, the club has a young German who is known as a prolific scorer and has done a fine job coming from the bench and doing his job. One won´t find a more well-rehearsed trio than Goldsberry, Gavel and Roberts in the beko BBL, with each player bringing something extra special to the table but Alba Berlin is deeper at the guard position, but The guard position is even. With Predrag Suput(12,4ppg, 4,1rpg, 1,7apg), Bamberg has one of the top power forwards that is always guaranteed to score even if it doesn´t look pretty, the Serb has been doing it for his whole career and his experience is huge. Reyshawn Terry(10,0ppg, 5,2rpg) brings the athletic quality to the forwards. . With Casey Jacobsen(11,8ppg, 3,5rpg, 3,0apg), Bamberg has an ex NBA player that is as unselfish as his teammate John Goldsberry as well. Jacobsen is a very versatile player that scores, rebounds and gets assists and is the ultimate team player and on top of that the team leader. Derrick Allen(13,6ppg, 4,2rpg, 1,2apg) belongs to the top forwards in the beko BBL and he withstood all odds with possibly not getting as much playing time in Berlin as he did in Frankfurt, by working hard in practice and becoming one of their most consistent scorers this season. He scored in double figurers in 26 of the first 30 games including explosions of 37 points against Phoenix Hagen and 28 points against Oldenburg and MBC. Tadija Dragicevic(7,9ppg, 3,7rpg, 1,9apg) who comes from Serbia 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 the season well scoring in double figurers in 11 of 16 games, but since Katzurin came on board has gotten less playing time and scored only in double figurers in 3 of 14 games. Sven Schultze might be 32, but he is still 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 gave 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 also adds a lot of experience to the team with his international games with Germany. Schultze broke the back in the Frankfurt comeback in the second half coming totally cold from the bench and making a dent in any Frankfurt comeback dropping three three pointers. There isn´t much separating the forward position. Suput, Terry and Jacobsen are very solid, while Allen, Dragcevic and Schultze bring much quality and different offensive qualities to the table. The very slight edge goes to Bamberg. The matchup of the series could be Suput-Allen, but with the deep roster of Muli Katzurin, one should never expect one player to explode with a 20-25 point night. At the center position, it is pretty even. Bamberg has a strong duo with German national player Tibor Pleiss/Kyle Hines. Pleiss(9,1ppg, 6,7rpg) has improved very much this season and his defense adds a new dimension to the Bamberg play. . Kyle Hines(10,2ppg, 4,6rpg) is a big body that frees up space for the guards and he scores and rebounds on a consistent level this season. With MiroslavRaduljica(9,8ppg, 3,6rpg), Yassin Idbihi(7,5ppg, 3,7rpg) and Patrick Femmerling(4,8ppg, 2,7rpg), they have a very solid rotation. . Serb Raduljica has been up and down in his first 10 games, but he is only 23 years old and still getting used to the beko BBL. He had big games against Artland which have good big man play. He is developing well and will be a factor down low. Idbihi is the big winner under new coach Katzurin. In his first 18 games, he scored only three times in double figurers, but since the new coach is on board, he started getting more minutes and scored in double figurers in five of the last seven games which has helped his self confidence. Katzurin has solved the center problem in Berlin as the duo of Raduljica/Idbihi are more than solid. Femerling is the most experienced player on the roster having won everything there is to win except the NBA title and the NCAA title, but winning 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 the 2005 European championships. He has won 3 BEKO BBL titles and two cups. Alba Berlin has an edge under the hoop against the smaller Skyliners, but against Bamberg will have their cut out matching up against the long Pleiss that makes the zone a lot smaller and the physical Hines who has been one of the most effective players in the semi finals. Alba Berlin as the solid duo of Idbhi(also one of most effective players in semi finals) and Raduljica that will have his work more cut out for him in the final. A slight edge to Bamberg here also. Bamberg won the season series and the last time, these two teams met in a playoff series was 2003 as Alba Berlin won their last beko BBl title in that seven year in a row championship run sweeping Bamberg 3-0. Back then Alba Berlin was led by players like Jovo Stanojevic, Mithat Demirel, Marko Pesic and Stefano Garris, while Bamberg played with a seven man rotation in game three featuring players like Steffen Hamann, Chris Ensminger, Rick Stafford and Jason Sasser. One thing is for sure, Alba Berlin will have to win at home, because no team has won in Bamberg this season, and Alba Berlin can´t afford to believe that their incredible 4-0 record in Frankfurt will be that easy to do in the always loud and uncomfortable Stechert arena in Bamberg. Both teams are offensive power houses averaging more than 80 points a game, but Bamberg is a better rebounding team. Both teams are very strong defensive teams. Two big keys will be who can get off to the better start in each game and hold their rhythm and as the series grows which team wants it more. Artland Dragon guard Bryan Bailey saw first hand how the current condition of Bamberg is and predicts a five games series that will be won by Bamberg. “Alba Berlin has to go inside a lot. They have many options on offense and should try to get as many fats break points as possible and play consistent defense. Bamberg has to slow down guys like Jenkins, Mcelroy and Taylor and keep their big guys out of the paint. On defense they should try to get them into a half court set and just take away what they do best. Bamberg is known for scouting well”, stressed Bryan Bailey. “Bamberg-Alba Berlin is what the fans wanted. WE have worked nine months to get here. We will have to be very focused”, expressed Alba Berlin American Bryce Taylor. The Brose Baskets Bamberg host Alba Berlin in game one June 5th at 15:45.