Insanity is a very common word in sports, and one of the most common quotes on the subject is often attributed to Albert Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” By that definition, it was quite insanity , which Alba Berlin did in the closing stages of the first semi-final in the Basketball Bundesliga against the Ludwigsburg giants. The defending champion threw and threw and threw, again and again from a distance, again and again unsuccessfully. Ludwigsburg’s outstanding guard Jordan Hulls alone had as many successful three-pointers as the entire Berlin team, which was at a pitiful rate of less than 25 percent.

But Alba kept throwing – and the madness took its course. In the decisive phase of the game, the Berliners scored three crucial three-pointers in the person of Jaleen Smith and Tamir Blatt. Alba won the exciting first of a maximum of five duels in this semi-final series on Friday in front of 8211 spectators in the arena at Ostbahnhof with 89:84 (25:24, 20:19, 25:23, 19:18). It was Alba’s 15th win in a row. “We knew that they play very physically and if we stay calmer we can look better against them,” said Albas Johannes Thiemann. “But it’s important to win these disgusting games too.” The second duel will take place again in Berlin on Sunday (6 p.m.).

Alba’s coach Israel Gonzalez wasn’t too happy with the schedule of the league, which had given the Berliners a week’s break, but at least the precarious personnel situation settled down. Thiemann and Luke Sikma, who had been absent against Bamberg, were fit again and Marcus Eriksson was the only injured player in civilian clothes behind the rink. From a Berlin point of view, the game started like a dream. Ben Lammers ended the first Ludwigsburg attack with a block and on the other side Jaleen Smith gave his old colleagues a dry three-pointer. The audience was already warming up, the team too, but it didn’t take long for the guests to get into the game.

Ludwigsburg didn’t defend quite as aggressively as usual at first, but they always found good solutions on the offensive. Jordan Hulls in particular demonstrated why he has been one of the best distance shooters in the league for years. This also applied to James Woodard, who needed no start-up time from the bank and converted even the most difficult throws.

Since the Berliners also developed a decent offensive momentum, there was a lot of back and forth at the beginning, which was not necessarily to be expected in the duel between two of the BBL’s strongest defensive teams. But the longer the game lasted, the more intense and competitive it became.

Against the often very small lineup of guests, Alba had clear size advantages and used them on the boards. Sikma, in particular, was comfortable in the zone, grabbing six rebounds in the first quarter. Since the Berliners were not nearly as accurate from a distance as they were close to the basket, it remained a very balanced game – right up to the final phase.

Alba kept gaining a lead with small runs, but Ludwigsburg always managed to counter. “It’s a real contrast – the Bamberg and Ludwigsburg defenses are worlds apart,” said Thiemann. In the final quarter, Ludwigsburg even took the lead for the first time since the early stages, but Alba now found the crucial answer – first in the form of good attacks on the basket, then from distance.