With most 19-20 basketball seasons being history thanks to COVID-19, there is still the NBA playing out it´s season in the bubble in Orlando, Florida while Alba Berlin guard Peyton Siva is already hard at work preparing for the 20-21 campaign. One has to wonder if Siva when he isn´t spending precious time with his family is following the Los Angeles Lakers and ex teammate Kentavious Caldwell-Pope´s season? Seven years ago, both were rookies with the Detroit Pistons and while Siva played only 22 NBA games, his ex teammate played 80 games, but didn´t necessarily have the NBA sticking power averaging only 5,8ppg and 2,0rpg. But the difference was that Caldwell Pope remained in the NBA to this day and is currently in his third season with the Lakers and on course of winning the NBA title, while Siva regrouped and has gone on to have a very good European career playing now his fifth season with Alba Berlin. Siva may not have been able to stay in the NBA, but he won his first 2 professional titles with Alba Berlin in 2020 while Kentavious Caldwell Pope is still searching for that first professional title and has a good chance of getting it very soon. For both guys 2020 has been an unpredictable, historic, crazy and tough year especially for Peyton Siva. He once again couldn´t elude the injury bug as that has been something that has tormented him since his arrival in Berlin in 2016. Plus just experiencing COVID-19 with the back and forth travel from Berlin to the States and back and then back to the States and now back to Germany. It has been a roller coaster year for him and like so many other players and people in so many walk´s of life could easily write a book about the last 6 months, but he did get rewarded with 2 titles. Despite all that he has gone through on and off the court, he is very upbeat in September 2020 as the new season is about to commence, but 2020 is a year he will never forget. “ 2020 was a very up and down year different from any basketball season I had experienced before in my life. The ups were finally getting a chance to compete in Euroleague, finally winning the BBL cup and the BBL championship. The downs were some injuries that plagued me again throughout the season, then finally dealing with Covid and the impact not only it had on the season but on the world. The total number of deaths it caused, the uncertainty of playing basketball ever again, living life inside a room, not being able to see family and friends. Just a lot of things you had to adjust to on the fly”, stressed Peyton Siva. Peyton Siva will always be connected to COVID-19 and winning his first 2 professional titles
The 29 year old 180cm point guard that hails from Seattle, Washington, but lives in Kentucky now played his last game on March 8th, 2020 before COVID-19 struck losing to the Crailsheim Merlins scoring only 3 points in 11 minutes. Then the BBL season was suspended and later Euroleague season was cancelled which enabled the American who won the NCAA title in 2013 with Louisville and Rick Pitino to head home for some valuable family time while at the same time not forgetting to keep his body in shape. With 4 years in Germany, some of that German discipline has rubbed off on him in terms of taking the whole COVID-19 crisis seriously. “I felt like I dealt with the Covid-19 crisis the same way the rest of the world dealt with it. I tried to follow the rules set by the world leaders to stay as safe as possible, which meant staying inside no real contact with the outside world. With the league being shut down for a short period of time it gave me a chance to get healthy and spend more time with my family in the states. I was able to just hang out with my wife and kids and rest up. Which helped me not only physically but mentally also heading back into the bubble in Germany to finish out our season”, warned Peyton Siva. Keeping in body shape and continuing to work on basketball skills was something that effected players all over the globe. Some traveled 1000´s of miles to get a gym, others had to bear the weather on outside courts, but Siva was lucky not to suffer any set-backs in this department. “It was challenging at first to stay in shape during the COVID-19 shut down. I was able to ride my peloton bike I have at home also do some in home workouts our strength coach sent the team. I was lucky enough to be able to find a private gym to be able to go to and shoot and keep my basketball skills sharp just in case the season was starting back up”, stated Peyton Siva. When he wasn´t in the gym grinding to be ready for the end of the BBL season, the American who was teammates with ex FC Bayern Munich center Greg Monroe in Detroit used the extra time to spend as much time with his family something that wouldn´t have occurred had COVID-19 not hit. “I really didn’t adapt a new lifestyle during the whole crisis. I’m the type of guy that stays home for the most part. It was tougher on my children not being able to go to the playground or seeing any friends or our families. It was a good chance for me to reconnect with my kids being home more than I ever have been. Just working on keeping them entertained and being a good father and husband”, expressed Peyton Siva.
Siva who lists Kemba Walker and Trey Burke as his toughest opponents finally won his first professional title getting the cup with Alba Berlin shortly before COVID-19 hit and his second came in June 2020 as despite not playing all games in the Munich bubble, he did contribute in a huge way going 7-0 in Munich beating 6 different teams. It wasn´t easy waiting 7 years to get that first professional title. Having come in second 4 times, one could of easily brought up the Buffalo Bills to rib him. “It was very irritating coming in 2nd four times in a row. I know that most people never experience winning a title in their whole career so I’m grateful for winning one in the past but for me I just knew I was going to win one over in Europe too it was just a matter of time. So it was very frustrating not to be able to get over the hump”, stressed Peyton Siva. In his 7 games in Munich, the American who spent time on the golf simulator and hung out with his young teammates in his free time scored in double figures in each game averaging 13,0ppg and 4,0apg. He also understood after the 2titles why the 2019-2020 team was finally able to get over the hump and win titles. “I think the biggest thing for us in 2020 was that we had a more experienced team. A lot of returning players who understood Aito’s style of play and we were able to close out those championship games. It was a fun team to be on and we all had a great time playing along side each other”, added Peyton Siva. Of course it wasn´t only Siva responsible for the Alba Berlin success, but really an amazing talented roster that had very many special parts especially the versatile Luke Sikma. People tend to underestimate his leadership qualities. “Something about Luke that isn’t known to the outside world is the leadership qualities of Luke. He is able to speak out and get on every player. He’s able to motivate guys and get the best out of them. He doesn’t do it in a way that’s malicious or a way that makes you feel less of a person. He’s able to motivate guys and is a great vocal leader”, warned Peyton Siva. Another guy that is a Alba Berlin lifer is Niles Giffey who was with the club before his 4 years at UConn and returned in 2014 and has never left. Giffey is a well-educated German with good manners that has the 2-1 NCAA title edge on Siva. “He never brings up the 2-1 lead he has on my with his NCAA titles. Niels is a great player and even better person. He is like a Swiss Army knife. He can do everything on the court that you need. He is a tremendous shooter from 3 and mid range. He’s able to post up with great footwork. Also he is sneaky athletic. He is a guy that does a little of everything for our team and he is the captain for a reason. As a person Niels is just an all around good guy”, stressed Peyton Siva. It isn´t only the experienced guys that get credit for the success, but also the young guys coming up like Jonas Mattiseck, Lorenz Brenneke or Tim Schneider. “I think the style of play has helped Tim a lot. He doesn’t look so stiff out on the court and he’s able to play towards his strengths. He’s a very good shooter who is able to spread the floor and he’s reading the game a lot better. Unfortunately he dealt with injuries of his own that kept him out of the majority of last season but he’s healthy now and I am looking forward to him getting back on the court with us”, commented Peyton Siva.
Instead of FC Bayern Munich having to look in the rear-view mirror as the season starts, it will be Alba Berlin who have 2 titles to defend. The club did a great job keeping many players thus keeping the golden chemistry intact, but also had to let others go. The club did a good job finding strong new replacements with Americans Shevon Thompson, Ben Lammers and Jayson Granger. Siva who likes to takes bits of Isaiah Thomas, Damien Lillard, Rajon Rondo and Rickey Rubio´s games has the early scouting report on his new teammates. “Shevon is a really talented player with great touch and feel for the game. He has great size that will help our team tremendously. Ben Lammers has surprised me with how quick he gets off the ground. He is just a quick jumper and now I see why he was one of the top shot blockers in ACB. Jayson is a very smart and talented player. He can play Pg and Sg. Such a strong defender , also on the offensive side a great shooter who always thinks one step ahead on the court. His experience is going to help us out”, stressed Peyton Siva. The question will be how well will the new guys be integrated and how well will they buy into the Aito Philosophy. Siva has seen too much in his basketball career to make any crazy unthought off season predictions. “I think we will have growing pains at the beginning of the season just because we have a bunch of new players who some have missed time in the preseason and is going to need some time figuring out our style. However when we get everyone caught up I think we will be a deeper team and a team that will be able to run and play our tempo but also able to compete on the defense of end against some of the bigger teams in Euroleague”, warned Peyton Siva.
Siva who still keeps in touch with his ex coach Rick Pitino from time to time will be turning 30 on October 24th and the question is where will his game go this season having gained added self-confidence with 2 titles? After having a tough first season in Berlin under Ahmet Caki, when Aito came on the scene in 2017-2018 everything changed. He did learn during his growing pains learning to stay ready and never lost confidence in the way he knew how to play. The growing pains and learning how to react turned his career around. “What doesn’t break you only makes you stronger. I have been dealing with plenty of injuries throughout my career (luckily nothing too serious) but things that would keep me out for months at a time. If I didn’t stay mentally strong I think those are injuries that could have derailed my basketball career tremendously. I learned to always work hard and stay ready when I am able to get on the court. I always had in my mind and always felt like when I am healthy I am one of the best players in Europe the problem is just staying and getting healthy”, said Peyton Siva. One guy who has been battling Siva for years and mostly lost is Skyliners legend Quantez Robertson who has the utmost respect for the NCAA champion. “He is a very good point guard that is lightening quick. He can score in a variety of ways. As a defender you just have to do the best you can to slow him down. He has been a top player in the BBL for years and at the moment a top 3 point guard in the league”, warned ex Auburn(NCAA) great Quantez Robertson. He has had his best stats as a professional in the last 3 years, but he has never been one to worry if he will score 30 points and be the hero, but can also be that impact player without the dazzling stats. “ I have learned that it´s not all about numbers especially with our team. I could play for stats and play for scoring points but that’s not required of me. On our team the most someone will play is 22-24 min a game. So you have to get in and perform in the limited time you get. So if you see guys on our team scoring 15-20 points in the limited time that we play that is a GREAT game but its all about being efficient”, stressed Peyton Siva.
Siva worked most last summer on his shooting off the dribble and in between game like floaters and mid distance shots and has put in relentless hard work in the last few years and it has really paid off, but one can´t forget how vital Aito has been for his development into his prime. The Spanish wizard has helped him a lot with many small details of the game like reading it, and patience. Also huge has been his transformation into an elite three point shooter that he proved last season shooting a ridiculous 56% from downtown in the BBL on account of getting that special freedom from his coach. “Being patient has helped me tremendously. I am able to read the game better be more efficient from the field and show my all around game. I don’t feel as out of control on the court. I think it is within the realm of my ability to repeat that shooting percentage. The reason it is because I know the work I put in to my game and shot. Also I have the utmost confidence out there on the court to shoot my shot. Aito is a big factor in my shooting numbers because he does give me the freedom to just go out there and play my game without looking over my shoulder after every shot good or bad. I have also learned more and more what is a good shot and a bad shot selection and that just comes with experience”, warned Peyton Siva. He is playing his fourth season under the legendary Spanish coach Aito while COVID-19 is still present and not really anywhere ready to go away. He is playing among his best basketball in his career and Alba Berlin is packed with a very talented roster again. It will be interesting to see if in 20-30 years if he can report more than 2 titles that he won during COVID-19 to his grandchildren. Some players get content after a few titles, but not Siva. He is in the best situation to add on to his hardware and is no where satisfied yet. “It´s very cliche but I hate losing more than I love winning so I am always aiming to win championships. I’m inspired now to win as if I have never won one in the first place. You can never get bored of winning too many championships”, warned Peyton Siva.