Can Alba Berlin Win At least One Title This Season?

There are many wonderful things that a Dashaun Wood would desire like battling a Derrick Rose in a one on one duel on a playground in Oak park, Chicago, having Monta Ellis 26, 8, 7 like stats in every Beko BBL game or finally experiencing a Detroit Lions Super Bowl some time in his lifetime. Wood has won a Beko BBL MVP title in 2011 and the only thing missing in his basketball career is a title. Whenever asked why he is on the court, his usual answer is is too win that championship and that is the main reason why he fled from Frankfurt two seasons ago with Gordon Herbert. However so far he still is winless in the hardware department in the Beko BBL in his third season. The last time Alba Berlin the 8 time Beko BBL champion won a title was the cup in 2009. With the high budget and unending talent that lands in the Spree each season, it can be at times a real mystery like it is how a Brazilen boy could juggle a soccer ball for 12 hours and 15 minutes nonstop and his name wasn´t Pele as too why the team is unable to win titles in  more of a consecutive rate. Alba Berlin is a top basketball address in Germany and was the FC Bayern Munich of the league before the Bavarian club moved up to the Beko BBL in 2011. With Marco Baldi, Alba Berlin has a top executive who made the team to what it is since making it a top team in the 90s and definitely has that Uli Hoennis passion 24 hours a day with the only difference that he can keep his emotions better in check. The team has always had top coaches on board and a supporting cast of players that makes a team like the LTi Giessen 46ers foam in their mouths. The Beko BBL gets more and more competitive each season and winning  atitle isn´t as much of a cake walk like in the past and one can´t forget that the Brose Baskets Bamberg started their little dynasty in the 2009-2010 season right after the last title of Alba Berlin. Maybe this is the year as Alba Berlin is hosting the 2013 Beko BBL Top 4 as Alba Berlin only needs to win two games and could get revenge against FC Bayern Munich in the semi final with a win and as a good omen head coach Sasa Obradovic  won two titles with Rhein Energy Cologne. “Alba Berlin always has strong players, but I feel that ex coach Luka Pavicevic was unable to get equal strong players at each position when he was there. I really like the three new players they got with Je Kel Foster, Derrick Byers and Ali Traore. They have been up and down this season and should be playing better. They have interesting new players and now Obradovic has to make them fit in with the other players. I think that they have a chance to beat FC Bayern Munich in the cup game. They already beat them once before in Berlin this season and why shouldn´t they be able to do it again”, stressed basketball expert Steven Clauss.

What does a traditional and respected Beko BBL team do that has won 8 titles to get back on track after last winning a title in 2009? It brings back a familiar face that is used to winning and has won with Alba Berlin before. No one better than sasa Obradovic who won the Korac cup in 1995 and the double in 1997 with Alba Berlin. As a player he won three world championships with the former Jugoslavia and as a coach won the title in 2006 with Cologne. His name stands for winning. “He stands for unending passion. He burns for this team”, stated Marco Baldi. Obradovic is a tough coach, but is also the type of coach that makes his players better. Obradovic brought something new to the spree with versatility that the new players have. He chose players that can play many different positions thus making it harder for opponents to read and defend. The team has only won one title in the last nine years and Sasa Obradovic did a house cleaning this past off season getting rid of seven players and hauling in eight new players. The team held Dashaun Wood, Heiko Schaffartzik, Yassin Idbihi and Sven Schultze to somewhat maintain a small collective in the team. Obrdovic did a good job bringing in a healthy mix of three Americans, a Bosnian, Serb and two young Germans. He brought in experienced Vule Avdalovic who he coached at BC Donetsk and  has Euroleague experience and has played many years in the ACB and will make some competition for Dashaun Wood. Nihad Djedovic was brought in for giving that special versatility and all around good play.  He brought in Nathan peavey who might be the most underrated power forward in the Beko BBL. A pity that he was injured and will miss most of the season. Zack Morley was brought in for toughness and can also score when needed. Further flexibility and power under the basket was brought in with Deon Thompson who played at the top NCAA school North Carolina. Obradovic brought in Spanish ACB veteran Albert Miralles recently to help bring muscle to the basket and help bang with the centers of the league. Young German David Herwig and Steven Monse also arrived to help round out the roster. The biggest strength of Alba Berlin likely is their guard rotation with Wood, Schaffartzik and Avdalovic who could be the best guard trio in the Beko BBL. Obradovic will be very flexible at this position often being able to play two at a time. Also at the forward position, he has players like Thompson, Miralles and Morley that can play different positions and will keep opponents guessing what the 8 time Beko BBL champion will do next in their offensive sets as they will be unpredictable. Alba Berlin has a very deep roster once again and if there are any problems that could arise then it is how well the team can respond to the coaching decisions of the coach as playing time will be reduced. Dashaun Wood that was the commander on the court in Frankfurt and Berlin doesn´t have that big role this season with more offensive weapons, but has taken this reality in stride and showed his character of playing for the team and not for his stats. Obradovic will make Wood an even better player than what he already is. The team can´t afford more injuries as they will need a full roster to make an impact in the Beko BBL playoffs as they also play Euroleague.

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 9-16record against the Albatros, but have built installed a special albatross cage in the Ballsporthalle which has rewarded them with a  5-3 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. In the first meeting last season, Alba Berlin escaped the O-2 World arena with a 81-77 win. Frankfurt led for 36 minutes before Alba Berlin put on the turbo and went on a 8-2 run which sparked the win. Dashaun Wood led all players with 32 points and Derrick Allen chipped in with 17 points for Alba Berlin. Alba Berlin shot 57% from the field and 44% from the parking lot, but Frankfurt had control of the boards 31-21. In the second meeting last season, Alba Berlin prevailed 79-70 as Dashaun Wood led Frankfurt with 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and ex Skyliner Derrick Allen had 18 points. Frankfurt lost in the 2011 Beko BBL semi finals 3-2 . Last season the Fraport Skyliners stunk out their Fraport arena with a 83-57 loss where Dashaun Wood led all scorers with 21 points and also lost a close game 70-66 in Berlin. This season, The Fraport Skyliners were walloped in Berlin losing 91-65 as they had little chance. Frankfurt didn´t shoot so bad hitting over 40% from the field and outside, but were clobbered under the boards 36-22 and relinquished 19 turnovers. After starting the season at 500 , the team went on a 8 agme winning streak, but then around Christmas lost three games in a row, but then rebounded having won five of its last seven games. Their biggest win of the season was a 90-75 bruising of the Brose Baskets Bamberg. The Fraport Sklyiners have won their last two games in a row with solid wins against Tuebingen and Hagen, games they had to win, but now with Alba Berlin face a stiff opponent. Frankfurt is riding a lot of self confidence at the moment. “We can beat anyone. We have a lot of talent and feel very good at the moment. We just have to continue to play our game”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Dawan Robinson. Phoenix Hagen assistant coach Steven Wriedt has movie experience with Phoenix in der asche and added some humor concerning the chances of Frankfurt to win. “Frankfurt has to hope that Alba Berlin has a bad shooting day or have a hangover form their Euroleague game in Moscow Friday”, stressed Steven Wriedt. “Alba Berlin is the favorite in every game and I think that they are the best team in the league. We can´t make them feel comfortable and take them out of what they do well. We have to protect the ball and get little turnovers. We have to rebound well and get back quick as they are one of the best fast break teams in the league.Our only advantage may be that they play in Moscow Friday. If we can make our game hard for them then we have a chance”, warned Fraport Skyliners head coach Muli Katzurin.

Alba Berlin is led by Deon Thompson who is playing his first season in the Beko BBL. Thompson is a 24 year old 203cm forward from Torrnace, California. He played at North Carolina from 2006-2010, reaching a NCAA Final 4 and Elite 8. At North Carolina, he had the pleasure of playing with NBA players like Ty Lawson, Tyler Hansborough, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green. As a rookie in 2010-2011, he played for  Ikaros Kallitheas (Greece-A1, starting five): 25 games: 14.1ppg, Reb-2(8.8rpg), Blocks-3(1.3bpg), FGP: 50.0%, FT: 70.7%. Last season, he played for Union Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia-Telemach League, starting five): Adriatic League: 24 games: 12.2ppg, 5.3rpg, FGP: 53.4%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 67.9%; Euroleague: 10 games: 8.8ppg, 4.1rpg, FGP: 48.1%, FT: 47.6%; Slovenian League: 16 games: 11.9ppg, 5.3rpg, 1.3spg, Blocks-5(1.0bpg), FGP: 51.2%, FT: 72.5%. There he won the cup and was MVP as well as mVP of the Slovenian Allstar game. Dashaun Wood is a 27 year old 185cm point guard from Detroit, Michigan that is playing his second season for Alba Berlin.  He has natural leadership abilities, who directs teammates on the floor and takes the ball in clutch moments. Loves to go inside to score, challenging the big guys, but has also shooting range from behind the 3pts arch. Despite lack of size, he can be effective even at the defensive side. He played at Wright State from 2003-2007. He then had a superb rookie season for Tisettanta Cantu (Italy-SerieA, starting five): 38 games: Score-5(16.9ppg), 3.0rpg, Assists-4(3.3apg), 2.7spg, 2FGP:52.1%, 3PT-2(42.8%), FT:77.4%. In his second season he played for : Benetton Treviso (Italy-SerieA), injured in Oct.’08 and was off for 2 months: Eurocup: 12 games: 5.3ppg, 2.0rpg, 3.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 40.0%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 87.5%; Italian League: 17 games: 7.2ppg, 2.9rpg, 3.2apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 43.1%, 3PT: 35.6%, FT: 70.4%. He sat out the next season due to injuries and The Deutsche Bank Skyliners took a gamble signing him in 2010, but it paid off. Wood who was the leagues MVP in 2011 playing 42 games: Score-1(19.0ppg), 4.6rpg, Assists-2(5.9apg), 1.2spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 33.2%, FT: 80.3%. Last season for Alba Berlin he played   German League: 37 games: Score-5(15.0ppg), 3.7rpg, Assists-4(4.8apg), 1.1spg, FGP: 47.7%, 3PT: 36.8%, FT: 79.2%; Euroleague Qualifying Round: 2 games: 9.5ppg, 1.5rpg, 4.0apg, 2.0spg; EuroCup: 12 games: 14.2ppg, 3.2rpg, Assists-1(5.4apg), 1.1spg, FGP: 55.1%, 3PT: 38.8%, FT: 82.2%.

Nihad Djedovic is a 22 year old 198cm forward that can play the position one to three. He hails form Bosnia and started his basketball career at  Bosna TH Telecom Sarajevo in 2006. He then played for WTC Cornella (Spain-LEB Silver) from 2007-2009. In 2009-2010, he played for Xacobeo BluSens Obradoiro (Spain-ACB, starting five): 27 games: 6.3ppg, 1.7rpg, FGP: 52.4%, 3PT: 31.6%, FT: 69.0%. Last season, he played for  Acea Virtus Roma (Italy-SerieA, starting five): 25 games: 11.6ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 54.7%, 3PT: 34.5%, FT: 71.2%; in Jan.’12 loaned to UCAM Murcia (Spain-ACB, starting five), in Mar.’12 signed at Galatasaray Medical Park Istanbul (Turkey-TBL): 12 games: 11.4ppg, 2.9rpg, 2.3apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 55.4%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 63.6%. He recently played the Qualifications to European Championships 2013 -12: 8 games: 16.0ppg, 4.3rpg, 4.1apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 46.1%, 3PT: 29.4%, FT: 62.2%. The team brings back 29 year old 208cm forward/center Yassin Idbihi from Cologne for a tird season. 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. In 2009-2010, he helped lead The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig into the BEKO BBL semi finals losing against The Brose Baskets Bamberg where he played games 39 games averaging 10.7ppg, 5.2rpg, FGP: 56.2%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 80.0%. In 2010-2011, he got better in the second half of the season playing German League: 43 games: 7.4ppg, 3.8rpg, FGP: 58.3%, FT: 73.4%; Euroleague Qualifying Round: 4 games: 3.3ppg, 3.3rpg; EuroCup: 11 games: 7.0ppg, 3.2rpg, FGP-1(71.4%), FT: 73.9%. Last season, he played  Euroleague Qualifying Round: 2 games: 3.0ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.5apg; EuroCup: 8 games: 9.6ppg, 3.3rpg, FGP: 63.0%, FT: 73.1%; German League: 30 games: 8.8ppg, 4.3rpg, FGP: 59.2%, FT: 83.3%. The team brought back Heiko Schaffartzik  who is a 28 year old 182cm point guard who is a German National player who has been a BBL traveler who has played for many different BEKO BBL teams like Giessen, Oldenburg, Nurnberg, EnBW Ludwigsburg and Braunschweig.  He had his big international breakthrough at the Euro Championships in 2009 averaging 12,7ppg, 2,0rpg, 3,8apg and shot 54% from the three point line. 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. He started the season with Turk telekom in Turkey, but never found his rhythm as he played 10 games averaging 3,8ppg, 1,6rpg and 2,3apg in 15 minutes per game. He had a strong playoff series against Frankfurt and in 2010-2011 played German League: 32 games: 4.1ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.8apg; EuroCup: 5 games: 6.2ppg, 1.6rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 40.0%, 3PT: 30.4%, FT: 66.7%.  Last season, he played  Euroleague Qualifying Round: 2 games: 8.0ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.5apg; EuroCup: 11 games: 8.5ppg, 1.5rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 45.5%, 3PT: 32.7%, FT: 80.0%; German League: 37 games: 9.3ppg, 2.1rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 33.3%, 3PT: 45.0%, FT: 85.7%. Last summer he played Qualifications to European Championships 2013 -12: 8 games: 12.0ppg, 3.4rpg, 4.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 48.1%, 3PT: 45.9%, FT: 82.6%.

The team also brought in 30 year old 208cm Spaniard Alberto Miralles who has much ACB experience. He is a good board fighter and an score from mid-range. He started his basketball career in 1999 with Juventut Badalona. He already played Euroleague as a 19 year old with  Virtus Kinder Bologna . He was drafted in 2004 by the NBA team Toronto Raptors. In 2004-2005, he played for  Vertical Vision Cantu (Italy-SerieA): ULEB Cup: 9 games: 7,3ppg, 4.7rpg, FGP: 51.9%, 3Pts: 00.0%; Italian League: 37 games: 11.3ppg, 6.4rpg, 1.3spg, 2FGP-1( 62.3%), 3FGP: 33.3%. He then had a long time playing for  Pamesa Valencia (ACB) from 2005-2009. He then played for  Lagun Aro Gipuzkoa BC (ACB) from 2009-2010. Last season, he played for Angelico Biella (Italy-SerieA, starting five): 32 games: 10.8ppg, 6.9rpg, 1.1spg, FGP: 64.4%, 3PT: 22.2%, FT: 55.8%. Zach Morley is a 29 year old 203cm forward that is playing his first season in the Beko BBL with Alba Berlin. He started his basketball career at Indian Hills Community College before finishing his college career at Wisconsin in 2005. He came to Europe in 2005 and played his first five seasons in Spain in the Leb Gold division. He played for  Budivelnyk Kyiv (Ukraine-Superleague,) the last two seasons and last season played Ukrainian League: 50 games: 11.8ppg, 6.1rpg, 3.3apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 54.7%, 3PT: 35.3%, FT: 84.2%; VTB League: 15 games: 9.0ppg, Reb-4(6.9rpg), 2.2apg, FGP: 38.9%, 3PT: 23.8%, FT: 76.7%. He won the Ukrainian cup last season.  Vule Avdalovic is a 31 year old 189cm point guard from Serbia. He is a true point guard, good passer and organizer, who is able to run a team at any pace. Has leadership and court vision, and, like any ex-Yugo player, knows how to score if left open. He started his basketball career in 1999 for Partizan Beograd where he played until 2005. He then played with Albert Miralles at Pamesa Valencia until 2009. In 2009-2010, he played for : Lucentum Alicante Costablanca (Spain-ACB): 34 games: 7.2ppg, 1.1rpg, 3.0apg, FGP: 55.3%, 3PT: 31.5%, FT: 82.6%. In 2010-2011, he played for  Cholet Basket (France-ProA): Euroleague: 10 games: 8.5ppg, 1.8rpg, 3.6apg, FGP: 41.0%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 80.6%; French League: 34 games: 10.6ppg, 1.9rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 38.9%, 3PT: 42.1%, FT: 80.6%. Last season, he played for  BC Donetsk (Ukraine-Superleague, starting five): Euroleague Qualifying Round: 1 game: 5pts, 2reb, 1ast; EuroCup: 14 games: 11.4ppg, 2.8rpg, 3.6apg, FGP: 42.3%, 3PT: 32.0%, FT: 81.3%; Ukrainian League: 49 games: 11.4ppg, 3.4rpg, 4.2apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 54.2%, 3PT: 33.7%, FT: 80.4%. Last season, he was Ukrainian Superleague Champion . He played the World Championships in Japan -06: 6 games: 6.7ppg, 1.3rpg, 1.7apg, 2FGP: 44.8%, 3FGP: 36.4%, FT: 76.9%. .

The team recently added Je Kel Foster. Foster is a 191cm guard that is back in the Beko BBL. He played with ex Skyliner Derrick Allen this season at  Belgacom Spirou (Belgium-Ethias League, starting five): Belgian Ethias League: 8 games: 11.3ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.8apg, 2FGP: 50.0%, 3FGP: 32.6%, FT: 64.5%; Eurocup: 6 games: 7.3ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.3apg, 1.0spg, 2FGP: 44.4%, 3FGP: 17.4%, FT: 80.0%. He played at Ohio State and played in Ludwigsburg and Oldenburg where he won the 2009 league title. He also has played in France and Italy. Last season he played for FC Bayern Munich. The team recently also brought in 28 year old 201cm forward Derrick Byars who is back in Berlin again after playing there in the 2009-2010 season. He played at Vanderbilt and was drafted in 2007 by the Portland Trailblazers. He was a rookie in 2007-2008 for the Koln 99ers and also played in the D-league, France and Greece. Last season he played for  Cholet Basket (France-ProA): Euroleague Qualifying Round: 1 game: 2pts, 1reb, 1steal; French League: 1 game: 9pts, 3reb, 1ast, 1steal, in Dec.’11 signed for $457,588 at Miami Heat (NBA), only pre-season, in Feb.’12 moved to Bakersfield Jam (D-League, starting five): 29 games: 15.0ppg, 5.0rpg, 1.9apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 51.2%, 3PT: 35.6%, FT: 81.6%; then agreed terms with San Antonio Spurs (NBA, starting five): 2 games: 5.0ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.0spg. The team recently also added French national player Ali Traore who is a 27 year old 207cm power forward. He is a very athletic player, who can play in each of the front court positions. Has great inside game skills, he’s tough and has good timing for the offensive rebounds. Also, he can hit a shot from outside. He played most of his basketball career in France, but also played in Italy and last season for  Lokomotiv Kuban (Russia-PBL): VTB League: 21 games: 11.8ppg, 4.4rpg, FGP: 57.5%, FT: 70.1%; EuroCup: 13 games: Score-3(15.3ppg), Reb-3(7.1rpg), FGP: 60.4%, FT: 68.5%; Russian League: 20 games: 11.8ppg, 5.2rpg, FGP: 59.1%, FT: 60.9%. He took part at the 2012 summer Olympics.

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 34 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 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 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 the 2009-2010 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. In 2010-2011 for Alba Berlin he played EuroCup: 12 games: 4.7ppg, 2.3rpg; Euroleague Qualifying Round: 2 games: 3.5ppg, 1.5rpg; German League: 43 games: 3.1ppg, 1.3rpg. Last season, he played Euroleague Qualifying Round: 1 game: 0pts, 1reb; EuroCup: 12 games: 2.6ppg, 1.2rpg; German League: 32 games: 4.0ppg, 1.2rpg. The team also has young Germans David Herwig, Steven Monse and Sebastian Fulle.

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