It could have been so beautiful. On Friday, the basketball players from Alba Berlin could have celebrated the championship in their own hall with 14,500 fans, at the end of an impressive series of 20 victories in a row. But like every good film, the season of the Berliners did not progress linearly and without setbacks. Alba had to tremble for 44 hours after the match point was awarded – but the joy on Sunday was all the greater.
The team won the title in Munich for the third time in a row. Since the club did not organize a fan trip, unlike for game two, only a few supporters traveled, but they celebrated their team in the home of their biggest rival.
And rightly so, because what the team has achieved this season is a bit more impressive than in previous years. With the double, Alba has now won five of the last six national titles, and that with a competitor from Munich with a budget that is about twice as big. This consistency at the highest level deserves respect – especially with all the challenges of this long season with 81 games in nine months.
Last summer, four leading players left the club with Niels Giffey, Simone Fontecchio, Peyton Siva and Jayson Granger. The decision to replace coaching legend Aito Garcia Reneses with his longtime assistant Israel Gonzalez was consistent but not without risk. Add to that the logistical and health difficulties of the pandemic and the many injuries in the first phase of the season. Things didn’t look too good in autumn, but with patience and trust, Alba mastered the major challenges brilliantly.
One of the heroes of this success is Gonzalez, who has quickly made a name for himself as a head coach at the highest European level. But basically it is again a championship of the collective. The fun with which the Berlin basketball players go about their work is contagious. That didn’t just become clear during the celebrations with the fans in the heat of the Munich hall.