It took Louis Olinde what felt like an eternity to grasp the situation. After a pass from Maodo Lo, Alba Berlin’s winger looked for a pass, looked left, looked right – and then finally realized that he himself was the free man. His three ended in the basket, Alba was clearly leading in the second quarter and, unlike in the first game on Friday, never gave rise to doubts about their own superiority.
With 100:76 (25:17, 24:18, 24:24, 27:17) the Berliners defeated the giants Ludwigsburg on Sunday evening in front of 8089 spectators in the arena at the Ostbahnhof – it was Alba’s 16th win in a row. The first-placed in the main round now leads 2-0 in the semi-final series according to the “Best of Five” mode. With another success next Friday in Ludwigsburg, Alba can make the fifth final in a row perfect early on. It was also a perfect day for Olinde individually, with 24 points he set a new personal best. “Felt good today,” said Olinde. “We played very well together and that gives hope for the next game on Friday in Ludwigsburg.”
While Alba coach Israel Gonzalez relied on the same 12 players two days after the narrow win in the first game, his opposite number John Patrick had to make a change. Justin Simon, recently voted the league’s best defender, complained of allergy-related breathing difficulties and was unable to play. Ethan Happ was in the squad for that.
Alba appeared unchanged in terms of personnel, but serious differences to the hard-fought first duel were evident early on. After the long-distance shots were still the big problem for the Berliners on Friday, Lo set the tone with two early threes. It wasn’t basketball fireworks that Alba unleashed against the usual intense Ludwigsburg defense, but the hosts quickly built up a small lead. In the first game they had compensated for the bad shooting rate with many rebounds, this time they hit better and worked their way to the free-throw line again and again. Johannes Thiemann alone was allowed to try ten times from there in the first quarter – more than twice as often as the entire Ludwigsburg team.
The guests acted similarly to the first duel, but were confronted with a huge problem. On Friday they had hit 50 percent of their three-pointers and thus countered almost every Berlin breakaway attempt, but this time the luck was lacking from a distance. Jordan Hulls in particular was hardly recognizable and shrank back to normal size. He was not able to build on his famous performance with 26 points and six successful threes. That also had to do with the good Berlin defense. Alba made life very difficult for Ludwigsburg, lost the ball a few times and always had the game under control. “We made the right adjustments after Friday’s game,” said Oscar da Silva.
After the first half ended with a 14-point gap, the Berliners quickly expanded this after the break. Olinde continued to score from a distance, Thiemann gave proof of his strong form and at some point Ludwigsburg only knew how to help with toughness. In the third quarter, they conceded two unsportsmanlike fouls within a few minutes, upsetting the crowd. At this point, the game was almost decided with a 20-point lead.
Ludwigsburg didn’t give up and Jonah Radebaugh in particular held back with 18 points and many rebounds. Before the last few minutes, the guests even came close to 14 points, but Berlin’s victory was no longer in danger. In the final quarter Alba brought the game over time and with a three point in the last minute Thiemann even cracked the 100 points.