18 Hours before the NBBL final tip off, the final seconds of the semi final between the Young Rasta Dragons were winding down and one could sense the extreme tension, disappointment and shock on the FC Bayern Munich bench as they were about to suffer a brutal 68-64 loss. This wasn’t just an upset, but it was a major major upset which could have been equivalent to a Lebron James playing one on one against an average player in the NCAA and suffering defeat. FC Bayern Munich had incredibly vast experience with guys that had played 162 Pro B (3rd pro league Germany) games while the Young Rasta Dragons had four players at age 16 and three guys that were 17 years old. If they could repeat a second upset again less than 24 hours later against Alba Berlin seemed very unlikely. When I observed the two teams warm up before the final, the difference in size was like night and day. It was only logical to understand that in mind the Young Rasta Dragons had achieved their peak and final against FC Bayern Munich. ‘It was an unbelievable feeling and atmosphere in the dressing room after the win. We achieved more than we ever thought. The euphory at that moment was great’, said Young Rasta Dragon Noah Jaenen. In the final the Young Rasta Dragons were overpowered by Alba Berlin losing 107-64. They gave all they had, but for Alba Berlin it was a lazy like Sunday afternoon walk in the park as they just played their game and dominated inside and supplied nasty defensive pressure that the Young Rasta Dragons couldn’t come to terms with. ‘We had a lot of energy today. We also had a lot of self confidence. We played very good defense and our inside play was strong’, stated Christoph Tilly (210-PF-2003). Even if losing a final is never pleasant, Noah Jaenen saw it as a positive experience. ‘Even if it was disappointing, I think that it was a great experience and everyone got something out of it. We went a lot further than anyone ever thought. I just hope that we are able to beat them sometime’, stressed Noah Jaenen.
Alba Berlin didn’t waste any time jumping all over the Young Rasta Dragons 18-2. The Young Rasta Dragons right away were hit hard by the aggressive pressure on ball defense by Alba Berlin. Fin Siedl scored twice with a floater and transition basket while Elias Rapieque (200-PG-2004) also scored on transition while Rikus Schulte who averaged 10,oppg in the Pro B dropped a trey. Rapieque followed with another transition basket. In this phase Alba Berlin got three on ball steals in the Young Rasta Dragons back court which led to easy baskets. The Young Rasta Dragons then got vital back to back three’s from Jegor Cymball who came into the weekend shooting 34% from outside to get back into the contest trailing only 20-10. The Young Rasta Dragons continued to execute really well possibly their best in the game and got some more support from Emilijus Peleda with a lay in and trey from modern big man Johan Grunloh. But that was as close as the Young Rasta Dragons would come in the game as from now on Alba Berlin would run away with the game and never look back. They got good support from bigs Marc Tilly and Janis Berger with lay ins as well as back to back baskets from guard Tjark Lademacher who showed his versatility with a offensive rebound and put back and steal and coast to coast strut and dunk. Alba Berlin led comfortably 36-23 after 10 minutes. ‘We never found our rhythm. They didn’t allow us to do what we wanted to. We wanted to play around and play our game, but it didn’t work’, stated Noah Jaenen. ‘We played very aggressive defense and put up the tempo which helped us get the big lead’, said Christoph Tilly who picke dup the MVP award for the tournament.
In the second quarter the explosive scoring by Alba Berlin was cut in half, but the Young Rasta Dragons couldn’t profit from them as their fatigue grew allowing them only to score 9 points. Even if Alba Berlin wouldn’t score as much as in the first quarter they still executed well going on a 10-3 run to extend their lead to 46-26. In the run they got a three pointer from 16 year old Nils Machowski who turned a lot of heads with his shooting on the weekend. Alba Berlin also continued to do what they wanted to inside getting two baskets from big man Christoph Tilly. Even when the Young Rasta Dragons helped well, Alba Berlin just mowed them down scoring easily. The physicality of Alba Berlin really hindered the Young Rasta Dragons from having success. ‘We played against them twice this season and we knew what to expect. But it still amazes me how physical they are. They are really difficult to play against’, commented Noah Jaenen. Down the stretch of the second quarter, the scoring was limited as the turnovers for both teams continued to mount. Alba Berlin had a big lead and began to experiment while the Young Rasta Dragons continued to cough up the ball against the aggressive on ball defense. Alba Berlin continued to out work the Young Rasta Dragons in the zone and got buckets from Guard Gian Aydingolu and athletic freak Jamal Entezami while the Young Rasta Dragons got consecutive baskets from Karl Buehner with a lay in and trey, but Alba Berlin led 54-32 at the break.
Alba Berlin continued to control the game in the third quarter and found back to more effective execution scoring 27 points while they kept the Young Rasta Dragons at 20 points. Alba Berlin got instant sniper support from Jamal Entezami who fired home consecutive three’s showing he is way more than just living over the rim. The Young Rasta Dragons did a good job getting to the free throw line as a means of getting baskets when field goals weren’t falling. But the fatigue rate of the Young Rasta Dragons continued to be low which allowed Alba Berlin to continue to execute their offense at ease. Berger and Schulte connected, but the Young Rasta Dragons had an instant answer as Cymball displayed his hot outside shooting scoring twice, but Alba Berlin still led comfortably 71-47. Killian Brochoff came back strong after getting three quick fouls in the first half and scored two baskets. Even if Alba Berlin stands for rugged defense and unselfish offense, when your leading by 20 plus points, a coach like Vladimir Bogojevic will close an eye and allow a fantastic 1-1 player like Entezami to do his magic as he scored two more times giving Alba Berlin the commanding 81-52 advantage after 30 minutes. ‘ We had little energy left. We also may have had concentration problems. But I think the main problem that we had in this game was that we never found our rhythm’, added Noah Jaenen.
The game was over by the fourth quarter. Young Rasta Dragons head coach Hendrik Grunert allowed some of the guys who didn’t play much during the season like Julius Bronnert, Jonas Gross, and Tim-Felix Buhren to get some playing time. Alba Berlin continued to execute at ease scoring 26 points while the Young Rasta Dragons added only 12 points. No team scored at all in the first few minutes as 8 possessions led to zero points. Alba Berlin continued to play their style going inside and just dominating with their physicality. Rikus Schulte scored twice and Christoph Tilly reached the free throw line twice as Alba Berlin led 89-56. A big strength of Alba Berlin this season was their team play and bench where every guy had a role and fulfilled it. Especially the big men behind Tilly like Janis Berger and Linus Ruff had solid games from the bench as they combined for 16 points and 12 rebounds. ‘They are good players Ruff is very young with potential and has a nice touch while Berger can do it all coupled with good decisions’, stated Christoph Tilly. 204cm big man Gabriel Krstanovic who only averaged 6 minutes per game in the NBBL this season and body wise is a cross between Maik Zirbes and Ivan Pavic got extra cheers in the stands form Alba fans as he made a trey and dunk to seal the win and end the game. ‘He always gives his all. That was the only three he attempted this season and he made it. That made us happy. He works hard and deserves the minutes that he gets’, expressed Christoph Tilly. Alba Berlin had 6 players in double figures and were led by Christoph Tilly with 16 points. Elias Rapieque added 14 points and Jannis Berger 12 points while the Young Rasta Dragons were led by Jegor Cymbal with 19 points and Killian Brockhoff added 11 points. Alba Berlin shot 52% from the field and 32% from outside and had 54 rebounds and 19 turnovers while the Young Rasta Dragons shot 29% from the field and 28% from outside and had 33 rebounds and 31 turnovers.