Two games can change a lot in the assessment of a playoff series. Well, before the quarterfinals against Bamberg, Alba Berlin was the clear favorite. Before the semi-final against Ludwigsburg, however, assessing the balance of power was not that easy. One reason: The Berliners had ended the regular season as the best team with a record of 27 wins and six defeats, but lost two games against Ludwigsburg of all places. Even the three-point odds of the giants from their previous games were used as a basis for whether they would ultimately leave the field as winners.
Alba Berlin goes to Ludwigsburg with a 2-0 lead
The first game showed that the outcome of a game cannot always be deduced from this, especially in the play-offs: Ludwigsburg had won every time with the three-way quota from this game, but this time it was not enough to win. Since the second game went even more clearly to the Berliners, Alba has a 2-0 lead before the third duel on Friday (7 p.m.) in Ludwigsburg and can already close the sack there. So much for the meaningfulness of the main round games.
“The cards are reshuffled in the play-offs, everyone has the same amount of time to regenerate and then the better team will prevail in the end,” says Johannes Thiemann. “During the season we have this double burden and in the Bundesliga we often play against teams that can prepare for a week, are hot and have scouted all your moves and you have a maximum of 20 minutes to prepare. So it’s clear that you can’t win every game.”
Coach Israel Gonzalez emphasizes physical toughness
Nevertheless, the center of Alba Berlin and his teammates have managed this balancing act particularly well this season. Thiemann and the rest of the team have even refuted the claim that you can beat Alba Berlin if you break the team’s rhythm and flow of play and rely on physical toughness. Bamberg and Ludwigsburg tried it, but didn’t get more than a narrow result. “We also know that teams say that our rhythm has to be broken – it’s clear that we’re preparing for it and trying to prevent it and that teams don’t give us an easy recipe to beat us,” said the national player. “Especially this year we have become even more physical and harder.”
In his view, one of the main reasons for this is that head coach Israel Gonzalez places a little more value on the physical game than his Spanish compatriot Aito Garcia Reneses did before. “So we can keep up well and have no problem when things get more physical,” says Thiemann and assumes that Alba will have to prove it again in Ludwigsburg on Friday: “They will definitely throw everything in again, it’s her last chance to extend the series.”
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