The Miles Basketball Minute: 2014 Beko BBL Final Preview: Alba Berlin-FC Bayern Munich 3-1



There are numerous classic scenes from the 1977 Hollywood block buster film Star Wars, but one that stands out is when Hans Solo aka Harrison Ford and Luke Skywalker aka Mark Hamill break into the death star to try to save Princess Leia and dress up as storm troopers to hide their tracks. Skywalker has the idea of putting hand cuffs on Chewbacca the faithful side kick of Han Solo. When Skywalker gets brushed away, he lets Han Solo do it since he is his trusty mate. With Beko BBL club Alba Berlin you have Marco Baldi as the CEO and person in charge like Han Solo and his side kick Sasa Obradovic who makes the club function on the court and in a way like Chewbacca so often the savior of the long lasting demise of the 8 time champion who only won three titles from 2003 to 2012. It seemed like Baldi made some wrong decisions in this time, but was dead on with getting Obradovic in 2012 as two cup titles have been added to the numerous hardware for the club and a third title is only three wins away. Ok this is a pretty weird comparison, but hey both duo´s are successful and even if Obradovic resembles American designer James Jannard founder of Oakley Inc with his bald head more than Chewbacca, it would be fun to see the three time European champion with Yugoslavia slip on a Chewbacca wig. After reaching the 2014 Beko BBL final with a convincing 69-61 victory against the Artland Dragons winning the series 3-1, one could witness Baldi coming over and giving the Serb a tender peck on the check. That just shows how strong the bond is between both men, but in terms of a peck on the cheek one could of imagined the lovable Chewbacca doing it to Hans Solo more than vice versa. Obradovic got the right players, formed a healthy chemistry, won 16 games in a row and won a cup as consistency has been a big staple for the success of Alba Berlin this season. Just everything has fit this season as the team has reached the final for the first time again since 2011 and despite all the talent on the court and success made, everyone has helped and if the Albatross mascot had secretly flown to the Artland arena for game four and given his two cents to the victory by annoying Tobi the dragon in his lab than only the faithful Artland mascot could confirm if that was true.

Alba Berlin continue to remain very consistent and consequent in the playoffs going their way having a 6-2 record. After disposing or ratiopharm Ulm 3-1, they then dismantled the Artland Dragons 3-1. This was a tougher series then it looked like as Alba Berlin won their three games by only a combined total of 16 points. If you reflect back on the first two games, with a little luck for Artland, Alba Berlin might have been heading back home in the hole 0-2 had they lost game one which they won 81-79 in overtime. Alba Berlin did a super job winning the rebound duel in each win, obviously taking advantage of their vast superiority under the glass. Alba Berlin didn´t shoot particularly well from outside, but displayed their ability to get the job done on offense in other ways which showed their cleverness. Alba Berlin also did a super job keeping David Holston in check in the last two wins especially in game four where the diminutive American  scored only five points and was limited to seven shots. All in all, Artland got to little support from their role players in the scoring department. Alba Berlin Reggie Redding was their most consistent player scoring in double figures in each game and leaving the floor twice as top scorer and was as versatile as always.

After pretty much gliding through the regular season in the Beko BBL with an overall 29-5 record and home court advantage in the playoffs, FC Bayern Munich didn´t have a comfortable cake walk, but moreover at times it seemed like they were in India performing fire-walking  tip toeing barefoot over a bed of hot stones as they only had a playoff record of 6-3 in the playoffs.  The EWE Baskets Oldenburg met FC Bayern Munich in the semi-finals and took Germany´s most famous sports team to the wire forcing five games. Had FC Bayern Munich not been able to win game two at home 74-72, then they would already been on summer vacation as Oldenburg was like a pesky mouse that had the audacity to annoy the neighborhood cat even though it would be at a major disadvantage. Oldenburg won a huge 105-103 double overtime game in game three in Munich and then returned home to win a hard fought game four 70-60. Even though FC Bayern Munich´s biggest fan and supporter and reason why the FC Bayern Munich project ever got off the ground Uli Hoeness  wasn´t able to be in attendance as he had already started his jail sentence, but had a competent stand-in with FC Bayern Munich soccer manager Matthias Sammer who looked as focused supporting the basketballers as when he is supporting the soccer team. In game 5, FC Bayern Munich stepped up and handled themselves like a champion team doing what they were supposed to do and win the big game. Oldenburg fought and stayed on their backs in the first half, but the many FC Bayern Munich offensive rebounds slowly started to gnaw at Oldenburg which slowly built the foundation of leading them to the finals. FC Bayern Munich stepped onto the court in the second half with an eight point lead and quickly built a 21-5 run which paved the victory for FC Bayern Munich. American Malcom Delaney hit a pair of three pointers which seemed to energize the whole team as they had five players in double figures and got added big shots from Boris Savovic and Heiko Schaffartzik in the fourth quarter.        Julius Jenkins led Oldenburg with 20 points, but the team had too little support from the rest. Not even the moral support of Travon Bryant who played at Missouri(NCAA) with Rickey Paulding could spark some added magic into the American as he combined with Nemanja Aleksandrov for only nine points. It was another big season for the EWE Baskets Oldenburg as they reached the final for the second straight season and third time in six years.

Before the season started most experts would have had an FC Bayern Munich, Alba Berlin or Brose Baskets Bamberg in the 2014 Beko BBL final. So in many ways this is no real surprise as it pits the first against the third. There will be many interesting duels in this series like Malcom Delaney-Clifford Hammonds, Bryce Taylor-Reggie Redding or John Bryant-Leon Radosevic, but  possibly the most watched duel will be between the suits on the sidelines between Svetislav Pesic and Sasa Obradovic. Both have won league and cup titles for one team in Germany Alba Berlin and Cologne and each is looking for their first title with a second club team in Germany. It will be the duel in a way between teacher and student as Pesic was head coach of the 2001 European champion Yugoslavia while Obradovic was his player. Both coaches are tough coaches that coach with a lot of heart, but it will come down to which one is more clever under pressure. FC Bayern Munich go into the series with home court advantage, but Alba Berlin go into the series with self confidence having swept the season series and have 72 hours more rest. Alba Berlin won the first game in Berlin 94-74 giving the German basketball world an early impression that the 8 time Beko BBL champion was a team to be reckoned with in the season. Alba Berlin dominated at the guard position as Clifford Hammonds, David Logan and Vojdan Stojanvoski combined for 53 points and Reggie Redding chipped in with 17 points and led the team in rebounds and assists. Alba Berlin dominated the boards 33-23 and didn´t let FC Bayern Munich find a groove on offense keeping them at 74 points and forcing them to cough up the ball 16 times. The second game of the season was a meaningless game as the season was already completed and there could be no movement made in the standings as Alba Berlin won in Munich 80-72. Alba Berlin was led by Reggie Redding with 21 points while David Logan steered 15 points in the win with five three pointers.  Alba Berlin shot very well from the parking lot with 14 three pointers. Even if FC Bayern Munich did control the boards 35-26, it was the annoying Alba Berlin defense again keeping FC Bayern Munich way below their season average at 72 points and stifled them from outside at 2/16. Both clubs have so much talent stocked at each position that in the end it will come down to which team plays the best team basketball. The most exciting duel will be the energy and explosiveness of Bryce Taylor against the versatile Mr allrounder Reggie Redding. Both teams come into the series having made their defense a staple during the season and in the last two games as Alba Berlin has given up an average of 64 points and Fc Bayern Munich an average of 66 points. Alba Berlin has to play their game which is defense orientated something that had been successful all season long, control the boards and have their guard fire power burning. The key player to get out of his comfort zone is Malcom Delaney the x-factor. When his game is off so is the game of FC Bayern Munich.  For FC Bayern Munich, they have to understand that all they have to do is play their game at home and that will be enough to for the title. If they can get into a groove early on offense in games and get their transition game going then they will be a very uncomfortable opponent for Alba Berlin. Limiting the guard play of Alba Berlin their x-factor and slowing down Reggie Redding will be vital as well. Maybe FC Bayern Munich will present the German basketball world with their full potential in the finals and if they do then they will win, but in reality Alba Berlin will win their ninth league title, because they will clamp down more and  play the better defense, motivation factor of Sasa Obradovic is always sky high and hard to combat,  have Jan Jagla who finally will win his first title in Germany.

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