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Monday, March 20, 2023

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Alba Berlin wins an almost lost game

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Luke Sikma was very close to Jeremy Morgan, but the Bonn player got a pretty passable throw at the end of the game. The ball flew in the high ground towards the basket, peeked in briefly – and then jumped out again. The 3115 spectators in the arena at Ostbahnhof collectively breathed a sigh of relief. Alba Berlin had somehow saved itself in overtime in a game that was believed to be lost. There the team of coach Israel Gonzalez finally prevailed and prevented the early cup.

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In the past four years, Alba had always reached the final, in the past nine years at least the semi-finals. With 83:80 (14:17, 17:21, 19:19, 20: 13/13: 10) after extra time, the Berliners are now in the quarter-finals. “It was a do-or-die game, so this win is extremely important. We want to win the trophy, ”said Malte Delow. “Something like this welds a team together.”

The starting position for Alba was anything but easy. Against the Bonn team, which had a strong start under the new coach Tuomas Iisalo, the Berlin team lost ten days ago at the BBL start and the already difficult situation has even worsened since then. In the clear defeat in the first Euroleague game in Barcelona on Friday, the Swedish three-man specialist Marcus Eriksson suffered a bruised rib and had to take a seat next to the longer injured Christ Koumadje, Johannes Thiemann and Kresimir Nikic. The young talent center Christoph Tilly was also canceled and one position remained in Alba’s squad.

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In the league game against Bonn, Berlin got off to a very good start, but then gradually lost their rhythm. This time it was missing from the start. Sometimes nice moves were made, but the miserable throwing quota kept causing disappointed groans in the hall. Gonzalez tried it early on with impulses from outside and in the middle of the first quarter changed the entire five at once, but that didn’t have any positive effect either.

The guests also struggled offensively, but were almost always in the lead. After a quiet start, it was again the little point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright who caused Alba big problems with his enormous speed. Ten days ago he was the outstanding player with 25 points and on Sunday afternoon there were even 26 points on the video cube for him.

At Alba, Oscar da Silva, who was only signed up on Thursday, was used for the first time in the second quarter and introduced himself with a dunk, which the hall spokesman acknowledged with an enthusiastic “Welcome to Berlin!”. From the hosts’ point of view, there wasn’t much more reason to be euphoric. In view of 13 partially completely avoidable ball losses and a weak quota of three, Alba was still served quite well at the break with the 31:38.

At the beginning of the second half it looked shortly afterwards as if the Berliners would now find their rhythm. But in a real cup fight, which was not for basketball aesthetes, Bonn always found an answer. The game was now surging back and forth and the Berliners were running out of time. But with a threesome from the previously inconspicuous Maodo Lo and a difficult throw from Sikma at the end of a 7-0 run, they saved themselves into overtime – and ultimately into the next round of the cup.




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