In sport, as in life, people often look for simple explanations. If you look at the situation of the basketball players at FC Bayern, such a situation is almost inevitable. Since Vladimir Lucic has returned, the Munich team has been back on track. After four defeats at the start of the Euroleague season, there have been two wins since the Serbian leader’s comeback, most recently on Tuesday evening against the top team from Milan, who had been unbeaten until then.
Of course, it’s not just because of the 32-year-old Forward that the Munich team is showing an upward trend. But his share is enormous – and not primarily because he was top scorer in both games. Much more important is its effect on the team. Coach Andrea Trinchieri didn’t want to say a lot about Lucic after the narrow win against the Italians. “Whatever I say doesn’t do him justice,” Trinchieri replied to a question about Lucic’s significance. “You can see it on the faces of his teammates when he’s on the field.”
The Munich team, which has given up two important players with Wade Baldwin and Jalen Reynolds, but was also able to sign a lot of experience with Darrun Hilliard, Othello Hunter, Corey Walden and Augustine Rubit, is still lacking the self-confidence of the past season in decisive phases. At that time, she turned many close games in the closing stages – and it was precisely these games that Bayern lost in the past few weeks without Lucic. The Serb always exudes this confidence in his own strength, even if he has only just returned after a long break. “I still have a few lung problems after my Covid disease, so I’m not even in the slightest form, but I’m trying to help the team,” said Lucic after his comeback.
It is quite impressive how Lucic changes his team’s game, gives it stability and contributes to decisive actions both in front and behind. It was not for nothing that he was chosen as the first player of a German team in the team of the season of the Euroleague. On this Thursday (8 p.m., Magentasport) he can not count on much admiration for his team’s away game against Alba Berlin. From the first step on the floor of the arena at Ostbahnhof to disappearing into the cabin, Lucic can be sure of the whistles of the audience. Because for the fans of Alba Berlin he has been something of the public enemy number one for years.
Lucic belongs to the category of players you either love or hate – although in his case this has to do with whether you are a supporter of his team or not. In addition to all of his undisputed athletic abilities – the overview, the final strength, the physique, the defense – Lucic also has a very controversial side.
Although he is one of the toughest players in Europe, Lucic regularly gives up even with light contacts and underlines this with his own theatricality. You can call it clever because it provokes such important whistles. But you can also call it unsporting. Which interpretation is mostly represented by the Alba fans can be heard every time Lucic touches the ball.
But they will not particularly impress him with their whistles. Lucic even seems to enjoy them at times. In addition, despite all the rivalry, the duel between Alba and Bayern has now become a bit routine. The two teams have played against each other 60 times in the past ten years, nine times in the past season alone. Bayern defeated Alba in the cup final, Berlin beat Munich in the championship final. The German duels in the Euroleague are not everyday games – especially when things get tight again.
In the Euroleague with its often competitive games, predictions are always difficult, with Alba against Bayern this is all the more true. The tendency of the past games speaks clearly in favor of Munich, but the Berliners in particular are very fickle this season. Good games like last Friday in Belgrade are followed by a surprising defeat like against Göttingen on Sunday. On Tuesday in Piraeus, Alba was much better again, even if it wasn’t enough for a win despite a strong comeback.
A simple look at the table suggests a very even duel. Both teams have won twice and lost four times, they are only separated by three points. While the balance sheet for Munich, who want to return to the play-offs after the outstanding previous season, is far too little, Alba is more or less on target. After the last two defeats, a win would do the Berliners very well – especially against their national rivals and Vladimir Lucic.