It’s been 145 days since Marcus Eriksson stood on the floor in a basketball game, but the Swede hasn’t forgotten anything. In the training hall, he has been moving more and more fluently for weeks and he throws the balls from a distance into the basket with seemingly no effort. Hit, hit, hit, that’s what feels like an eternity.
Last Friday, his colleagues were similarly successful from the line of three. The Berliners sunk 15 of 31 attempts – an outstanding number, all the more so in a final against FC Bayern Munich. Eriksson watched the spectacle from behind the gang in his tracksuit, as he has done for the past almost five months.
Nevertheless, it was a big step on the difficult way back. Because he has finally overcome his equally painful and stubborn plantar tendonitis and he is ready for action again for the first time in time for the final series.
The 28-year-old winger has been training with the team for two weeks and Israel Gonzalez announced before the first final: “He’s one more option for us.” An option that Alba’s coach still counted on in the 86:73 win in the opening game renounced.
It is almost paradoxical that the Berliners have played so successfully this season and have now won 18 times in a row, even though they are missing one of the best throwers on the continent in Eriksson. Even more unreal is the fact that during this winning streak in the quarterfinals against Bamberg they also set a new three-point record.
Eriksson is not a man of many words and knows the difficulty of his situation. “My rhythm in training is okay,” he says. “But I know it’s not realistic to be at 100 percent. And when I play, someone else has to watch.” That’s not an easy decision for the coach.
Especially since the foreigner rule makes things even more difficult for the Swedes. A maximum of six non-German nationals are allowed in the twelve-man squad. Luke Sikma, Jaleen Smith, Tamir Blatt, Yovel Zoosman, Ben Lammers and Christ Koumadje fill those spots.
It is the big personal question of this final series whether Alba’s coach Eriksson will still play in the second game this Tuesday in Munich (7 p.m., Magentasport) or in the other games of the “Best-of-Five” series for the championship. Sikma, Smith, Blatt and Zoosman are seeded as long as they are healthy.
Only the two centers remain as prank candidates. However, Koumadje showed by winning the first game how much he can hurt Bayern with his physique under the basket. Lammers only came on for eight minutes and showed an inconspicuous performance, but with his defensive qualities and safe middle-distance throw he is actually a fixed point in the Berlin system.
Eriksson can change a game in minutes with his extraordinary shot and give the team yet another option up front. At best, he can be a secret weapon in this series. But a final against Bayern with the highest intensity is not exactly the ideal time for a comeback.
Eriksson himself doesn’t really know where he stands after a five-month break. “We never have the intensity in training that we do in a game and it’s hard to say how ready I am,” he says. As a competitive athlete, he naturally still hopes to be able to support the team on the way to the third championship in a row.
Two months ago, when a comeback was still a long way off, he said you always have to have hope. But ultimately Eriksson is a realist and above all a team player: “Let’s see if I can help more on or off the pitch. But the main thing is that I help.”