The most exciting and intriguing semi final pits 14 league titles against one another as 8 time Beko BBL champion Alba Berlin meets 6 time Beko BBL winner Brose Baskets Bamberg in the final before the final. Both teams have been in the shadow of the mighty FC Bayern Munich and each club would wish for nothing more at the moment than to go into the playoffs with already one title in their pockets. Bamberg won three cups in a row with their last being two years ago, and last year Alba Berlin finally ended their title drought dating back to their last cup win in 2009 beating ratiopharm Ulm in the cup final. It has been a roller coaster season for Bamberg with roster changes as like last season the point guard position with new players Teddy Gipson and Zack Wright this season didn´t pan out. With the arrival of Jared Jordan, Bamberg manager Wolfgang Heyder surprised every one and may just have booked the ticket for both finals this season. Alba Berlin has been like a troubled child of the league the last years that is so gifted, but can´t use its talent to shine in basketball life as the 8 time Beko BBL champion hasn´t won a league title since 2006 and really has been overhauled by Bamberg in the last years as the top team in the Beko BBL. They have been one of the hottest teams in the Beko BBL in the last months and reached the Eurocup last 8 and might have the perfect roster this year that combines deepness, character and skill that will be enough for at least one title. Head coach sasa Obradovic did a superb job finding the right mix and the question is can the team still heighten their play in the last months to make that next step getting new hardware back to the German capital?
Every season seems to be getting more and more difficult for the Brose Baskets Bamberg to dominate coupled with the vast competiveness that the Beko BBL seems to increase in each season and this season is no exception. Each team guns for Bamberg and the simplicity that Bamberg once had to win games in the past when guys like Kyle Hines, PJ Tucker and Marcus Slaugher were on board has become history as it seems to be getting more and more tough to win games as this season has shown. Currently Bamberg has a 21-4 record and is in second place which is very commendable, but the way they win has changed. They had stellar back to back wins against Wurzburg and Frankfurt allowing only 49 and 43 points, but then had an interesting span of four games in a row where they really were challenged winning by not more than a combined total of 11 points against Bayreuth, Bremerhaven, Tuebingen and Braunschweig. Mind you these are not playoff teams and with some misfortune which they definitely didn´t have in Bayreuth the club could of lost all games and now have eight loses and be in fourth of fifth place and having some real heat behind them with team sneaking up the rear. Bamberg as always has talent, but that killer instinct and total reliance of each player is simply missing that has been seen in the past. In the first three years where Bamberg was unbreakable the club also never had more than two new players coming in, that changed last season with more players coming and going and really hit its pinnacle this season as guys like Jamar Smith, Rakim Sanders, Novica Velickovic and Damir Markota came and during the season more new faces came with Elias Harris, D or Fischer and Jared Jordan. Even that is a lot for manager Wolfgang Heyder to digest from his standing place at center court in the entrance to the visitor dressing room in Bamberg. However when push comes to shove, Bamberg is still the defending champion and team to beat and are still the best crunch time team. You can ask any Beko BBL coach who the favorite still is and each will say Bamberg except for maybe Sveislav Pesic. Some reasons why Bamberg have the tools to win it all in Ulm. With Jared Jordan, Bamberg has the best point guard in Germany and could be the difference. Just having that solid foundation of core players of the last title teams like ex NBA player Casey Jacobsen, Anton Gavel or Johns Goldsberry is worth gold. Having Anton Gavel who is one of the top three players in the Beko BBL is also vital since even if his shot technic will have any basketball coach cringe, its as effective as the banana shot of Brasil soccer legend Roberto Carlos.
Alba Berlin on the other hand is hoping to be a type of smiling third party when the hardware is given this season as FC Bayern Munich and the Brose Baskets Bamberg are more favorites to win a title than Alba Berlin. But that is something that should not bother world champion with Yugoslavia Sasa Obradovic who despite the continuing pressure to win each season in Berlin can continue to quietly go about his work preparing his team each weekend as there is more of a silent pressure in Berlin as the loud pressure is more in Munich and Bamberg. Alba Berlin may only be in third place with a record of 19-7, but they have belonged to the top teams this season and even had an amazing 16 game winning streak combined in BBL and Eurocup play. This season Alba Berlin has had a 10 game winning streak in the Beko BBL and reached the final 8 of the Eurocup. Even if they lost by 32 points in Valencia, anything is possible in basketball. Even if Alba Berlin could use a Dashaun Wood from the bench in the return game, their offense is already potent enough to score 32 plus points. Alba Berlin hit a small road block the last weeks as they lost three of four games against Hagen on the road where they simply have problems to win and against Ludwigsburg and Oldenburg. However they picked up the pieces two weeks ago getting a huge win at home against Bamberg with Jared Jordan which will have their confidence sky high for the next battle against Chris Fleming and co in Ulm. Alba Berlin may have their best roster in years supplied with the perfect chemistry that could win it all. History is also on the side of Alba Berlin as it has won seven cup titles in 10 attempts and Sasa Obradovic has won the cup as player and coach with Alba Berlin and Cologne. Alba Berlin also has many young players that are searching for that first title like Akeem Vargas, Jonas Wolfarth Bottermann, Reggie Redding or moonlight singer Levon Kendall.
The season series stands at 1-1 as Bamberg won a nail bitter at home 73-69 and recently lost in Berlin 70-58. Important for Alba Berlin will be to play aggressive defense the way they did recently in the win against Bamberg in Berlin. They have given up 70 points or less eight times this season and will have to have to have their game face on on defense. Important also is too use their height advantage and dominate the boards. Two months ago It would have been easier said than done to focus most on a Casey Jacobsen or Anton Gavel, but now with a Jared Jordan running the show and many other explosive players like Elias Harris and Rakim Sanders, Alba Berlin will need to be as alert for 40 minutes as Bamberg will be for David Logan not getting free from the parking lot. Important for Bamberg will be not to get lost in the Alba Berlin rebound shuffle and not let them get out and running and controlling the tempo. David Logan may be the key player, but if Bamberg can put a somewhat solid defender on him like a Karsten Tadda then a guy like Logan can be controlled. However two key players that need to be shut down are Mr Buzzer beater Reggie Redding that shot Alba Berlin to the 2014 cup top four past the Telekom Baskets Bonn and who really is their best player because he can do so many things well. His versatility is unmatched on the Alba Berlin roster. The other guy is Leon Radosevic who is having a very strong season after coming off an injury. The Croatian has demonstrated that he can be a sort of go to guy as he nailed Italian Eurocup team Sassari with 42 points in two games on 17/26 shooting. A disadvantage for both teams could be, but wont be on account of their deep rosters the fact that they both play games leading up to the cup weekend. Alba Berlin plays at home against Sassari four days before the cup weekend, while Bamberg plays ratiopharm Ulm three days before the cup weekend. This will be a spectacular and exciting semifinal game with both clubs having great chances to reach the final. However Bamberg won´t lose twice to Alba Berlin. Bamberg with their unstoppable and hardworking coaching staff will be ready for Alba Berlin and fans will see a rejuvenated Bamberg team reach the final winning by 5 points.