Soccer fans will never know how amazing it is to witness a do-or-die game in a playoff series. After a long season the EuroCup teams FC Bayern Munich and Alba Berlin faced each other in this year’s BBL Playoff finals and demonstrated in five tough games how beautiful basketball and playoff competition is. After Berlin managed to steal game 1 in an overtime game, Bayern could win a one-sided game two and take a 2-1 lead with a 72-66 win. But Alba Berlin striked back and defeated Bayern in their last home game 72-68. So both teams would meet one final time in Munich’s Audi Dome to crown a new BBL champion. The odds were clearly against Berlin: Since 1998 there had been six decisive game 5 battles in the BBL finals and it was always the team with homecourt advantage that was victorious. Another interesting point is that Bayern Munich could win every playoff series against Alba Berlin in the past. But Berlin fans could also come up with some numbers that kept their hopes alive. Luke Sikma could win the spanish ACB finals on June 16th last year. That is the exact date of game 5 this year. If one looked at the record of all Bayern vs. Alba games this season, it became obvious, that every team had back-to-back victories. If this streak would continue Alba Berlin should win game 5 after winning game 4. And since the second half of game 3 Alba Berlin’s head coach Alejandro Garcia Reneses found a way to limit Bayern’s offensive flow. Still Bayern Munich always played their best basketball when they were with their back to the wall. And game 5 of the 2018 BBL finals should be no exception. Bayern was again able to step up defensively and steam rolled over Alba Berlin to take win the 2018 BBL championship with a 106-85 victory.
Bayern learned a lot from their mistakes in game 1 and was able to put a lot of preassure on Alba. Berlin seemed unable to get the ball under the basket. There inside game seemed not existing and Alba had to rely on their outside shot to stay in the game. Niels Giffey made two three pointers and helped Alba to cut the deficit in the first quarter. But Bayern moved the ball beautifully on offense and seemed to score easily on almost every possession. There were several opportunities for Bayern Munich players to get easy points from slam dunks. Alba’s help defense seemed non-existing on several possessions. Devin Booker, Danilo Barthel and Jared Cunningham had some crushing dunks that will make it to the highlight film. And one had to wonder if they were at practice or at a decisive game 5. It became obvious that Berlin’s players seemed somehow tired and exhausted as they were often one step too slow to manage a defensive rotation. Offensively Berlin made just one field goal from short and mid-distance in the first quarter that ended with a 32-19 lead for Munich. In the second quarter Munich could even extend the lead and moved the ball beautifully on offense. At half-time Bayern had a convincing 19 point lead (58:39).
Alba started the second half with a 10-2 run to cut the deficit to 11 points (60:49). Munich’s head coach Dejan Radonjic had to take a time-outto get his player back on the right track. Nihad Djedovic, who had two fouls early in the game, carried Bayern through that only phase where they seemed vulnerable. When he made a three pointer with the buzzer oft he third quarter, Berlin’s run was finally stopped (86:61). Djedovic is he only remaining player from Bayern’s 2014 championship team and he finished the game with a team-high 19 points.
Alba fought couragely, but Bayern always responded great and a comeback in the last quarter was impossible. Bayern Munich secured a 106-85 win and now celebrates its fourth championship after 1954, 1955 and 2014. German national player Danilo Barthel was voted the BBL finals MVP. The 26-year-old had an impressive season and showed on both ends oft he court that he is by far the best german player in the league. The former Skyliners player had great impact offensively and defensively he made it hard for Alba’s Luke Sikma to be as effective as usual.
6500 spectators witnessed an easy win for the bavarians. The Audi Dome was sold-out and according to Bayern’s management the club had 50.000 requests for tickets. The city of Munich has won the soccer, hockey and basketball championship in Germany this year. Bayern Munich will play Euroleague next season and thanks to a wild card also for the next three years. It will be interesting to see how Bayern will manage the tough schedule with 34 BBL games and at least 34 Euroleague games. Bayern’s manager Marco Pesic, who had been criticized after firing Sasa Djordjevic, will have to built a new, deep roster for Bayern’s Euroleage season. Meanwhile Alba Berlin will play EuroCup again and the club and its fans can be proud of a memorable season.