It was exactly six minutes and 38 seconds of play in the first quarter when Israel Gonzalez turned to the referee and made a T with his hands. Time-out! Things didn’t go well for Alba Berlin and this break made it clear how unusual that is for a team that has been so accustomed to success for months. It was the first in this series of finals against Bayern Munich. In the third game, after a total of more than 86 minutes.
But even the intervention of the Berlin coach did not help his team on this completely used Friday. Alba lost the third final in their own hall 60:90 (15:23, 18:29, 13:20, 14:18). It was the first defeat after 19 wins in a row and the eagerly awaited championship celebration will have to wait. At least until Sunday (3 p.m.) when the Berliners play the fourth of a maximum of five duels in Munich. “They kicked our butts,” said Alba’s captain Luke Sikma. “I don’t know if we were nervous or if it just wasn’t our day, but it wasn’t enough.”
In the arena at the Ostbahnhof, everything was actually prepared for the big coup. The hall was completely sold out with 14,500 spectators for the first time since the cup final against Oldenburg shortly before the pandemic-related restrictions began in early 2020, and the situation for the Berliners could not have been more advantageous in terms of sport. It really all pointed to the third championship in a row.
Especially in the second game on Tuesday, Alba was superior to Munich in all respects: physically, mentally, basketball. The personal problems of the guests did not necessarily increase the chances of a big comeback. In addition to the long-term injuries Darrun Hilliard and Corey Walden, Vladimir Lucic and Leon Radosevic were also absent for a short time. The former Alba professional was in the hospital with a fever for observation.
With this starting position, however, the Munich team got along much better. They had nothing left to lose and the appeals of their coach Andrea Trinchieri apparently paid off. “Never give up the fight,” the Italian demanded after the defeat in game two and asked for more effort in the rebound. This is exactly what the Munich team showed. They scored well from long range and when the ball missed the basket a player in the red jersey threw himself in and saved it. “Everything was against us, but we managed to show character,” said former Alba professional Nihad Djedovic.
The Berliners seemed overwhelmed by the size of their chance, the expectations, the full hall and the resistance of the opponent. On the offensive, they hardly ever managed to raise their notorious speed game. On the one hand, this was due to the good Munich defense, but also to the many inaccuracies in the Berlin ball presentation. In addition, the throw rate from a distance was catastrophic. The first eleven attempts missed their target. Jaleen Smith scored for Alba for the first time from behind the three-point line nine seconds before half-time. However, the hosts were already 22 points behind.
The spectators gave their all to get their team back into the game. They yelled, clapped, drummed and jumped, but it didn’t help. Alba forgave simple lay-ups, threw the ball carelessly to the opponent, made step mistakes and was completely beside himself. It felt like an eternity until Maodo Lo scored the first Berlin points in the third quarter after three and a half minutes. A big comeback looks different.
The Munich team had the events under control impressively and after their belief in the title seemed to have almost died out last Tuesday, their self-confidence grew by the minute. Every good action was celebrated and even when they were already leading by 25 points, they didn’t switch to management mode. Bayern wanted to set an example and they succeeded. The Berliners, on the other hand, have to get back on their feet quickly, because with such a performance there will be nothing to celebrate in Munich on Sunday.