In this years easyCredit BBL playoffs point guards have played a major role and that is no surprise as a teams game revolves around the quick decisions of this so valuable position as well as that players leadership qualities as well as having the ability to know when to separate scoring and playmaking best. In the quarterfinals fans saw the always so motivated Deandre Lansdowne who has been living the ultimate Cinderella story since he arrived in Germany in 2015 in Herten and balled sometimes in front of less than 1000 people in the Pro B as he gave a solid performance against FC Bayern Munich that was rewarded on account of the deep roster and more talented Bavarian team. Fans also saw the fierce duel between ex Euroleague champion Tyrese Rice and up and coming possible future Euroleague player TJ Bray who took the BBL by storm and played an amazing season that probably only he or Pedro Calles could have envision before the season. And not to forget MHP Riesen head coach John Patrick actually had Bray on his radar before anyone in Germany some years ago, but couldn´t help him shine then because he got an injury before the season started. So many great guards and the list just continues to grow in these playoffs and now really take the lime light and focus in the semi-final series between Alba Berlin and the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. With Will Cummings and Peyton Siva both teams have top BBL point guards if not two of the three best in the league that will clash for the ticket to the BBL final and to the Euroleague next season a league none has ever played in. Both have had stellar basketball careers, but both haven´t won too much. Siva has an NBA resume having played briefly with the Detroit Pistons and one of basketballs big titles the NCAA with Louisville which he won under legendary head coach Rick Pitino. In Europe Siva has reached 4 finals and lost all of them with Alba Berlin which bears comparison to a Jim Kelly even if his 4 loses were Super Bowls. Cummings has one title and that was the 2018 Eurocup championship with Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul (Turkey-BSL) and this season was instrumental in Oldenburg ending the season in second place helping him be named 2019 BBL MVP. Now both are ready to duel head to head. Both teams swept their respective teams as Alba Berlin got by ratiopharm Ulm and the EWE Baskets Oldenburg by the Telekom Baskets Bonn Cummings was spectacular an din top form averaging 27,0ppg in the series and shot 50% from outside. Siva has had his difficulties with injuries in his three year tenure with Alba Berlin and missed the first two games against ratiopharm Ulm, but returned in the third game and was his potent self scoring 18 points, dishing out 6 dimes, getting 3 rebounds, getting 4 steals and nailing 5 three´s. Even if Cummings is the more explosive scorer, Siva brings that valuable calmness and all-around solid point guard play that always comes in handy on a team that is unselfish. This should be a great battle among the point guards, but slowing down a Cummings more than a Siva will be most vital, because Oldenburg rely more on him than does Alba Berlin Siva.
Alba Berlin crushed ratiopharm Ulm 3-0 and showed them an offensive lesson where the opponent at times must have felt like they were still in school and trying to comprehend what the teacher was trying to explain, but were unable to let any of their defensive knowledge translate to success on the court. Alba Berlin averaged a massive 96 points in the three game series. The whole series had a pattern in which Alba Berlin won most statistical categories. In game one the Alba Berlin offensive machine won 107-78 and had 6 guys in double figures and dished out 30 assists. The team shot over 50% from outside and Ex NBA player Derrick Walton was superb with 11 points and 12 assists playing for the injured Peyton Siva. He is a true floor general that knew how to lead his team for 40 minutes the way a point guard should. Alba Berlin won the rebound battle easily 34-24. The only solid stat of ratiopharm Ulm was their 12 turnovers, but a big weakness in the game was that that reliable go to guy who could take responsibility and take over was invisible. In game two Alba Berlin won 98-83 and had 4 guys in double figures scorng. Martin Hermannsson led all scorers with 23 points. The club shot in the high 40´% from outside and had 26 assists. Alba Berlin secured the rebound duel again 26-21 and had only 9 turnovers. Ratiopharm Ulm coughed up the ball 16 times which was a big factor for the loss on account of not being able to take care of the ball. In game three Alba Berlin won easily 100-83 as 6 guys cored in double figures and they threw 28 assists. Derrick Walton was solid and had 11 points and 7 assists off the bench. Alba Berlin easily won the rebound contest again 34-25 and nailed 14 trey´s. Alba Berlin were more careless with the ball with 18 turnovers, but Ulm was even worse with 21. Ratiopharm Ulm did a good job in the series having different guys share the offensive load, but all in all too little support came from the bench. A good offensive team will never beat a great offensive team if it can´t defend properly.
The EWE Baskets Oldenburg didn´t play there best basketball, but if your going to play shoot out then you have to have you’re a-game offense which they did. The Telekom Baskets Bonn showed spurts of good offensive basketball, but as usual like all season long their defense let them down. In game one the EWE Baskets won a 105-94 shoot out contest. They had four players in double figures in the rout. They didn´t need more than a 8 man rotation as their big three of Cummings, Mahalbasic and Paulding combined for 64 points. They shot well from outside and won the boards 33-24. The Telekom Baskets Bonn showcased 5 players in double figures in scoring. Cenetr Charles Jackson had a strong game with 21 points and 8 rebounds. Both teams did a very good job combining for 13 turnovers. The Telekom Baskets Bonn just couldn´t supply the dangerous fire power that Oldenburg did. In game 2 the EWE Baskets Oldenburg continued their offensive assault on Bonn winning 97-87. Again the big three of Cummings, Mahalbasic and Paulding were brilliant combining for 55 points. Mahalbasic layed up his incredible fourth triple double of the season proving he is the most versatile center the league might have ever seen. Oldenburg wasn´t quite as consistent as in game one as they didn´t shoot as well and allowed Bonn many more extra chances on the glass allowing 16 offensive rebounds. But it was enough for the win as the Bonn just couldn´t make any proper adjustments to slow down the big 3. In game three, the EWE Baskets Oldenburg closed out the series winning 97-84. They didn´t shoot as well from outside again, but shot very well in the two point area. They learned from their sloppy play in game two and was more disciplined on the glass winning the rebounds 33-23 and gave up only 5 offensive rebounds. The big three didn´t dominate like usual as Mahalbasic had only 6 points, but they got added support from Nathan Boothe who had 25 points in 27 minutes. Bonn had a superb game from Charles Jackson again with 28 points. He is a center that Bonn should think about holding. He is the team´s best center in many years. Oldenburg did another good job staying under 10 turnovers. Bonn´s inability to defend cost them this series as well as not keeping Cummings under control. A very disappointing resume since they have top defensive guard stoppers in DiLeo and Polas, but sometimes even the best defenders can´t control a MVP like Cummings.
In the easyCredit BBL regular season the clubs split the two games with each team winning on the road. Alba Berlin won the first game in Oldenburg 93-84. Alba Berlin played a very usual strong offensive game spreading the ball around and involving everyone as six guys scored in double figures. This was early in the season where Peyton Siva was injured and Derrick Walton hadn´t arrived yet, but the club got exceptional playmaking from Stefano Peno with 10 points and 7 dimes. As usual Alba Berlin controlled the boards 36-31 and forced Oldenburg to 11 turnovers while they took good care of the ball with only 6 turnovers.Cummings and Paulding combined for 42 points while Mahalbasic was kept under control with 9 points. In game two the EWE Baskets went to Berlin and walked away with a convincing 94-78 victory. Oldenburg defended very well limiting Alba Berlin´s outside game and offensively were on fire shooting near 50% form the parking lot. The big three combined for 60 points and Cummings exploded with 34 points. Oldenburg kept Alba Berlin off the glass securing 37 rebounds and giving up only 27 rebounds. The only negative point was their 16 turnovers.
This will be a very exciting series even if history isn´t on the EWE Baskets Oldenburg side and it won´t be again this time. In the last 10 years these two clubs have met three times with Alba Berlin winning each time. In the 2010-2011 season, Alba Berlin rallied from down 2-1 in games to win, in 2014-2015, Alba Berlin swept Oldenburg and last season, Alba Berlin was able to win again in a exciting 5 game series. The way both teams can explode on offense at any time, this could be a series where each team finds a way to win on the road. The only way to beat Alba Berlin is to play defense. They tend to cough up the ball at a high rate and Oldenburg will have to be sneaky and smart and find good defensive game plans to keep Alba Berlin off balance. But that is easier said then done. Alba Berlin has the needed experience and depth to win this series if they can play Alba Berlin basketball which is playing their beautiful team basketball, dominating the boards and playing solid defense. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg are well rested from their non international club schedule, but just don´t have enough consistent fire power from the bench. Granted the big three of Cummings, Paulding and Mahalbasic probably will continue to do damage, but just won´t have enough to get by Alba Berlin. The only way that happens is if they clone Mahalbasic and he averages a triple double in the series.