EasyCredit BBL Playoff Preview 2018: Alba Berlin-FC Bayern Munich 3-2

The one club Alba Berlin is looking to get back to the top of the German basketball totem pole while the other club FC Bayern Munich in a way also is. Because since arriving back to the BBL in 2011, Munich has only won two titles in that span, but now could win two titles in a season and get the club looking like a great basketball organization instead of only a good basketball organization. That would also have FC Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness content that all the effort he gave the program is finally paying off. Let´s rewind back last weekend, where Alba Berlin started their dominating quest of getting back to the top of German basketball by making an amazing sweep of the German U-16 and U-19 championships beating FC Bayern Munich and the Young Rasta Dragons. The U-16 team led by Elias Rodl, Evans Ripieque and Nolan Adenkunle breezed through the semi-final and easily disposed BBA Ludwigsburg 89-60 and then beat Fc Bayern Munich 96-82 defending their title from last season. The NBBL team of Alba Berlin had their backs to the wall in both the semi final and final, but thanks to nerves of steel, timely execution, the heart of a lion and clutch shooting from Franz Wagner, Jonas Mattissek and Badu Buck, they were able to make the double perfect for the team from the German capital. After the nerve wracking come from behind 77-68 win against the Young Rasta Dragons, Franz Wagner who is the brother of Michigan(NCAA) standout Moritz Wagner and was able to make a 180 degree turn in looks as like some of his other teammates, he traded the comb for the razor and shore off his hair and one could only have guessed he was related to the big Mo with that special twinkle in his eyes. He was a bit miffed by the question what was still missing for Alba Berlin. He then learned that all that the great organization Alba Berlin was missing now was the triple with the league title in the easyCredit BBL. After a gasp and smile, he quickly reshifted thoughts and agreed that the triple would be a nice thing. Franz´s brother Moritz may be the big news story and have the limelight at the moment, but if Alba Berlin can win their third title within weeks, then Alba Berlin will be at the top again and both Wagner brothers won´t be bored telling their great accomplishments from the past season and flashing that warm Wagner smile that has continued to grow as their habit of racking up titles continues to grow. FC Bayern Munich experienced a lot of FC Hollywood especially with the coaching change which was made so prematurely in the crunch time of the season, but with a few weeks left in the season, they are in the driver´s seat in the final and with good chances of securing that second league title since returning back to the BBL in 2011. The only thing that will hinder FC Bayern Munich from hoisting their second title of the season will be inconsistency. So it is Alba Berlin that has played the most beautiful basketball of the season against FC Bayern Munich who has the better experience and depth. Both teams looking for that true recognition and respect which only one team will get while the other will have to wait another year for redemption as it will be a battle to the finish and go 5 games. Franz Wagner as a very talented 16 year old already has sniffed BBL air this season and with the title could start that amazing Wagner summer as his brother Moritz most likely will be drafted by an NBA team in a few weeks.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing 2018 NBBL Top 4 MVP Franz Wagner

Alba Berlin breezed into the easyCredit final by sweeping the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg. Many were expecting a tighter series, but Alba Berlin overpowered them and the underdog just didn´t have enough gas left in their gas tanks after a very long, but successful season. Alba Berlin didn´t defend as well as they are capable of except in game two, but it was their dangerous offense that carried them into the final as they averaged 96 points in the three game series. In game one, Alba Berlin won the shoot out 102-87 as was their 28 free throws and controlling of the boards helped them get the win. Luke Sikma had his usual great game giving his two cents in every way as he scored 19 points, grabbed six boards and dished out six dimes.

Alba Berlin also used their bench well outscoring Ludwigsburg 45-35. In the second contest, Alba Berlin rolled into Ludwigsburg and once again had the lethal offense cooking scoring 100 points and giving a strong defensive effort allowing only 74 points. The club showed just how deep they are and that they aren´t always relying on the Sikma/Siva duo for all the input as they combined for only 15 points. Alba Berlin shot better, controlled the boards again and once again had more success from the bench outscoring the home team 52-32. Even if  MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg were swept, they didn´t go into summer vacation totally hanging their heads in game three, but gave it all they had losing a 91-88 squeaker on the road and ended the season with their heads hanging high. Alba Berlin won the rebound battle, but other than that both teams were at eye level and it would have been nice for the Ludwigsburg fans to have an extra home game. Spencer Butterfield was Alba Berlin´s most consistent scoring offensive player in the series averaging 16,0ppg. Overall it was a very successful and productive season for the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg, if one can measure that in terms of not getting a title. The club had the talent to have won the Basketball Champions League, but just had an off weekend at the Final 4, so for many the club did underachieve. Head coach John Patrick surely will construct another competitive team for next season and it will be interesting to see if he will find another gem like Thomas Walkup again.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Peyton Siva in Frankfurt in 2017

For FC Bayern Munich, they had to meet Brose Bamberg in the final before the final. In the history of the two clubs since FC Bayern Munich returned back to the BBL in 2011, they have played each other 52 times in regular season, cup, international and playoff action. The head to head battle in regular season, cup and international action is deadlocked at 18-18, but in playoff play is where Brose Bamberg have had their number going 12-4. Brose Bamberg win two thrilling series 3-2 and also swept FC Bayern Munich the last two times. FC Bayern Munich had their number this season sweeping the regular season. Both were tight contests where both teams defended well, but FC Bayern Munich were the better defensive team holding Bamberg to 65 points per game. Except for an unsatisfactory effort in game two in Bamberg, FC Bayern Munich played a very strong series against the once seemingly invincible Brose Bamberg winning 3-1. FC Bayern Munich easily won game one in the Audi Dome 95-72 as they won the rebound battle and forced Bamberg to 18 turnovers while they only had 9 turnovers. A big factor in game one and in the series was the crushing bench advantage of FC Bayern Munich as in game one they had 43-6 points from the bench. FC Bayern Munich had four guys scoring in double figures led by Jared Cunninghams 26 points. In game two, Brose Bamberg came to play displaying hard nosed defense beating FC Bayern Munich 78-65. The Bavarian team had an off day shooting only 3/15 from outside and losing the rebound duel. Bamberg had five guys in double figures led by Dorell Wright´s 22 points. In game three in Munich, the home team found back to their destructive offense crushing Brose Bamberg 99-67 having five guys in double figures and led by Booker and Cunningham with 15 points apiece. FC Bayern Munich won the rebound battle and dropped 13 three´s and once again got all they needed from the bench with 54-29 to their advantage. It looked for a while like Brose Bamberg would force a game five as they led by as much as 14 points in the first half in game four, but a devastating 14-2 run by FC Bayern Munich to start the third quarter changed the momentum of the game as Brose Bamberg´s season ended on their home court 83-79. Brose Bamberg wasn´t saved by their immaculate 27/27 free throw shooting as they got hammered on the boards again and were hit by the Munich bench again losing the point battle 39-16. FC Bayern Munich won the series due to their strong rebounding and bench as they had 146 points to Bamberg´s 64. All in all, it was a very disappointing season for Brose Bamberg as their biggest disadvantage was not finding the right pieces on the court. Even if Brose Bamberg did reach the semi-finals, their fans will be muttering all summer long “it can only get better next season”.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing ex NBA player Jared Cunningham after the 87-83 FC Bayern Munich win in Frankfurt

FC Bayern Munich lead the BBL head to head battle 20-16 an din the playoffs are 12-4. An interesting stat to this years easyCredit BBL playoffs is that every team that had home advantage won their series. But both Alba Berlin and FC Bayern Munich both won their games on the road in the regular season against each other. FC Bayern Munich did win the season series 2-1,but won once at a neutral site in Ulm winning the cup. FC Bayern Munich won their first meeting in Berlin 80-70. Alba Berlin didn´t play that bad shooting better from outside and winning the rebound battle, but they had disabilities taking care of the ball coughing it up 18 times and were outscored from the bench 32-16. FC Bayern Munich got vital scoring punch as they had five guys scoring in double figures. In the return game in Munich, Alba Berlin took it to them winning easily 92-71. Alba Berlin had their offensive train chugging along well again hitting 14 trey´s while FC Bayern Munich shot only 5/16 from the parking lot. Alba Berlin also rebounded better and had more production from the free throw line, forced 20 turnovers and won the bench scoring 28-22. FC Bayern Munich did win the cup final in Ulm 80-75. Alba Berlin played FC Bayern Munich tough getting the usual solid three point production and controlled the boards, but Jared Cunningham´s 25 points and FC Bayern Munich´s 30/38 free throw shooting decided the game. So now both teams meet again and battle for the title. FC Bayern Munich have a new coach, but haven´t developed further and despite having a very deep and talented roster, don´t have that extreme team chemistry and certainty that Alba Berlin have. If Alba Berlin can match and heighten the physicality inside and have a consistent shooting series, then they will have very good chances of winning their first league title since 2008. FC Bayern Munich have to buckle down and play good team defense and find a way to take away the three point line from Alba Berlin. A good trick of Aito would be to reshow the first win in Munich to get his team mentally focused for that first crucial game. If Alba Berlin can steal that first game in Munich, then they will win the series. A non title for FC Bayern Munich will most likely cause many new changes in the organization while for Alba Berlin winning the title will put them back on top of German basketball and make the summer for the basketball Wagner family one that they will never forget


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