Alba Berlin Forces Game 5 With A Huge 87-67 Win Over Bamberg

Did Bamberg’s team want to celebrate the championship on their home court?

Or what exactly happened to the most dominant team of the Beko BBL in game 4 of the finals?

With a win coach Fleming’s team could have won the BBL championship. But with their backs to the wall Alba Berlin handed Bamberg their biggest loss of the season (87-67) and showed that you just cannot count out the team from the capitol city.

After a nice start Bamberg was in front with 12-21. But it took only a few minutes for Alba to go on a 16-2 run and take the lead. The momentum had changed with Alba’s nice zone defense and Bamberg’s inability to find a way to score on a regular basis. On the other side of the court Berlin found good ways to create mismatches against Bamberg’s zone as they moved the ball very well. Often wing players like Casey Jacobsen ended up defending in the paint and Alba took advantage with their big men.

A prime example for Berlin’s strength today was the Bamberg’s last possession in the first half. Brian Roberts tried to go hard to the basket but Alba responded with a nice defensive rotation that made Julius Jenkins block the lay-up. Then with some seconds left Alba passed the ball nicely to Bryce Taylor, who faked a shot and then made a buzzer three pointer right on time. At the half Alba led by 7 (44-37).

At the beginning of the second half Tadija Dragicevic replaced Derrick Allen and had some nice scenes offensively. Alba constantly led by 4-8 points at this stage of the gameand even if Bamberg managed to have some successful situations offensively, the team simply forgot to box out defensively.

It really felt like Alba Berlin could easily grab offensive rebounds whenever they missed a shot. German national player Yassin Idbihi did a great job getting 4 of the team’s 11 offensive boards. It is often said that good rebounding is a question of dedication.

Today it became obvious that Alba Berlin just had a stronger will to get the win. While Alba’s point guards Taylor Rochestie and Heiko Schaffartzik grabbed each 6 rebounds the whole Bamberg team had just 17 at the end of the game. It really looked like only Brian Roberts and Kyle Hines wanted to win a championship this evening. The stat sheet also shows that in two other categories that often display a team’s dedication Bamberg has a big fat 0. No steals and no blocks in the entire game! Very strange and unusual numbers for a team like Bamberg.

With Derrick Allen scoring 10 of his 18 and Yassin Idbihi 9 of his 13 points in the last quarter the game ended with a blow out win that should give Alba some confidence for game 5 in Bamberg.

Allen, who finally found his mid-range game, led all scorers with 18 points, Bamberg’s Kyle Hines had 16 and Brian Roberts 14. Player of the game was playmaker Taylor Rochestie. He had a double-double 13 points and 10 assists adding 6 rebounds and 3 steals to that.

It is really hard to make any predictions for game 5. Bamberg fans will hope that their team will remain unbeaten at home. Indeed Chris Fleming’s team has won the last 26 home games against german teams and just needs to add one more to become the 2011 BBL champion.

But remember: Katzurin’s team has already wom two game 5 games this season and defeated Frankfurt in the semi-finals on the road. Katzurin proved to be tactically very flexible and the team has played its best basketball when they were in do-or-die situations. Still the team lacked stability and consistency throughout most of the games. There were several moments this post-season when it became pretty obvious that coach Katzurin did not originally form this team but had to take over from Luka Pavicevic.

One should also not underestimate Bamberg’s experience as the team has been playing together for the last 2-3 seasons. If I had to bet my money on a team I would still go for Bamberg. But if they play with just 90 or 95% dedication (like they did in game 5) I would not be surprised to see Berlin players celebrate in the Stechert-Arena, called Frankenhölle (franconian hell).

Whoever will win the championship on Saturday, I guess everybody is happy that the days of the “Meisterschild” (cup trophy) are over and a much better looking cup can be raised.

But judge for yourself.

Here the “Meisterschild” raised by Brose Baskets Bamberg player Anton Gavel:

And here the new trophy:

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