Alba’s manager Marco Baldi and his Munich colleague Marko Pesic will still remember this magical June evening well, but for Alba’s current basketball players, the last championship in Berlin in their own hall is probably about as far away as the invention of their sport by the Canadian James Naismith late 19th century. There were only rough plans for the arena at Ostbahnhof, Emir Mutapcic was the coach, Mithat Demirel was the top scorer – and Luke Sikma was only 13 years old.
On June 8, 2003, the Berliners celebrated their seventh German championship in a row in front of 10,500 spectators in the Max-Schmeling-Halle. That was nothing, said then President Dieter Hauert euphorically. “The Alba era has only just begun.”
Then things turned out differently and lean years began. Today, those responsible in Berlin would probably be a little more reluctant to use the term “era”, but Alba is currently at least on the verge of retrieving the addition “series master”. After the sovereign victory on Tuesday evening in Munich, Alba leads 2-0 in the final series against Bayern and can complete the third championship in a row on Friday (7 p.m., Magentasport and Sport1).
It would be the first league title win in their own hall since 2003 and thus also the first in the arena at Ostbahnhof. “We want to treat our home crowd to it,” said Alba’s center Oscar da Silva after the away win in game two. “We won the trophy at home, but the championship is a bit bigger.”
At the moment almost everything points to a big party on Friday evening. Alba has now won 19 games and has a correspondingly high level of self-confidence. Munich make a tired impression and also have to do without their top performers Vladimir Lucic, Darrun Hilliard and Corey Walden. “Everything will be ready in Berlin to lift the trophy,” said Bayern coach Andrea Trinchieri. It is perhaps the only chance for the ailing Munich team that they no longer have any pressure. “The motto for game three is: never give up the fight, never!”
After the victory in Munich, Alba’s coach Israel Gonzalez had no particular desire to deal with his possible first championship title as head coach. “It’s 2-0, anything can happen there,” said the Spaniard, referring to the semi-final series in Munich, in which they lost a 2-0 lead over Bonn in their own hall and only did so with a show of strength in the fifth game still made it to the final.
On Tuesday evening, however, Berlin’s superiority was so clear that a Bayern comeback seems unlikely. Alba dominated the rebounds in both games, was faster and, above all, played deeper. While the Munich offensive is very dependent on individual actions, the Berliners constantly present their opponents with new challenges with their versatile offensive. Of course, Alba benefits from the fact that the entire squad is healthy and ready for action in the most important phase of the season.
So everything is ready for the first championship party in our own hall for 19 years. Only one thing is certain: Baldi and Pesic will definitely not celebrate together this time.