“Now they are particularly dangerous”: Alba Berlin welcomes the struggling defending champion

When you meet the team that has dominated European basketball two seasons in a row, you don’t have to discuss their qualities, Israel Gonzalez nevertheless issues a warning ahead of the clash with Anadolu Istanbul on Thursday (8 p.m.) at the MB Arena . “Now they are particularly dangerous because they can’t lose,” says Alba’s coach.

While for the Berliners in the Euroleague for weeks it has only been about ending the season properly, working on their own form and if possible not finishing last, there is a lot at stake for the Turkish titleholder on Thursday. With five games left in the main round, Anadolu is only eleventh in the table and needs a winning streak to reach the play-offs.

“Of course we feel the pressure and we know we have to win every game,” Shane Larkin, one of Anadolus’ biggest stars, told basketball portal Eurohoops. The team has its back against the wall, but has proven in recent years that it has the character of a champion. “A lot of people are doubting us right now and we have to teach them otherwise,” said the American.

However, it will be anything but easy. After a celebrated win over Real Madrid, the Turks lost to Partizan Belgrade, a direct competitor for the final play-off spots, a week ago.

At Anadolu, they may have been overconfident for a long time this season. True to the motto: We’ll make it through the main round, and when it comes to the decisive phase, we’ll always be there. In any case, it’s going to be very tight and the form curve is not exactly pointing upwards with only two wins from the past five games.

Tibor Pleiß trembles with Anadolu for the play-offs

This is mainly due to the lack of consistency. Also due to injuries, the defending champion never really got into the rhythm. In top form, a team with Vasilije Micic, Larkin, Will Clyburn, Chris Singleton and the German center Tibor Pleiss is one of the best and most rip-offs in European basketball. But the club from the European part of Istanbul is a long way from being in top form this season.

However, Gonzalez does not expect an unsettled opponent. Anadolu had had problems in the main round in the past and had to fight for the play-offs, but was always there when it mattered. “You have such a good team. If they need to win, they can do it,” Gonzalez said.

For Alba, the main thing on Thursday is to confirm the slightly improving form. In the past week, the Berliners won three times – and each time away from home. With the win in Munich, Alba is not in last place in the Euroleague for the first time in months.

“The three victories in the last week have helped a lot for morale and show that we are on the right track,” says Gonzalez. This also applies to personnel. Because after only ten playable professionals were available in Ludwigsburg on Sunday, the situation should slowly relax again.

Yovel Zoosman returned to team training after suffering a shoulder injury on Tuesday and could be an option again, along with Tamir Blatt, Johannes Thiemann and Yanni Wetzell.

Source: Tagesspiegel

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