Alba Berlin

Quo vadis Alba Berlin?

After firing Ahmed Caki Alba Berlin looked desperate and noone thought they could compete with powerhouse FC Bayern Munich in the quaterfinals of the BBL Playoffs. But after a devestating loss in game 1 (95:68) Alba bounced back and made Bayern work extremely hard to reach the semifinals. Even though Alba Berlin ultimately lost 3-1 to Munich, the team somehow managed to win back the hearts of their supporters and earn the respect of the whole german basketball community.

Interim coach Thomas Päch, who took over after Caki was fired, brought back the spirit and passion the team lacked for most of the season. Alba’s twitter hashtag #mitleibundseele (transl.: with body and soul) finally made sense for the first time this season. One has to wonder why it took so long for the players to break free and play with the kind of energy and effort they showed against Munich. Was it all Caki’s fault that Alba struggled after a 7-game winning streak in December and never fully recovered throughout the season? First of all one has to mention that Ahmed Caki seemed very unfortunate as the team had to handle so many injuries over the course of the season. Just remember: Brandon Ashley, who should have been a keyplayer on Alba’s frontcourt, decided to leave the club before the season even started. Malcolm Miller broke his hand at the end of the preparation and missed the first nine games of the season. That’s two starters out before the season even started. When the team finally seemed to have found their rhythm Peyton Siva, with whom Alba had a 14-5 record, had to deal with a stubborn adductor injury that made him miss most of the second half of the season. Without Siva the team finished the BBL regular season with a miserable 4-9 record. Then just days before the start of the Playoffs Alba’s most important offensive player Dragan Milosavljević suffered a season-ending injury to his elbow. But bad luck aside, retrospectively hiring Caki seems like a big misunderstanding.

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The Miles Basketball Minute: BBL Playoff Preview FC Bayern Munich-Alba Berlin 3-0

 

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Bryce Taylor after a game in Frankfurt

Who could forget the amazing one on one battle last season in the easyCredit BBL cup semi final in Munich between Jordan Theodore and Jordan Taylor as the Jordan´s produced a duel on the court that wasn´t near as great as the game 2 Thomas 53 and Wall 40 point performances this week in the NBA, but for German fans they gave their all as Taylor went on to the final leading his team past the home team FC Bayern Munich and gave Alba Berlin their third cup in four years while Theodore would get revenge on Taylor in the playoffs and win his title with the Fiba Europe Cup. However after the gratifying German cup win against FC Bayern Munich, their season abruptly ended there as mentally and physically they have been a totally different team which somehow carried into this season. Last season Alba Berlin closed out the season in poor fashion having a very unsatisfactory 6-6 record and then got majorly embarrassed by the Fraport Skyliners as they got swept out of the Fraport arena as the only thing missing from their flight home to Berlin was unearthing the supermarket bags to cover their faces as they landed back at Tegel in Berlin. Except for a very potent run from November to February this season where they won 12 of 13 games including 10 in a row, it has been a very inconsistent season and especially since that run, the club has played under their worth losing 9 of 14 games as many have been wondering what has happened to the once mighty Alba Berlin that once won 7 titles in a row? This poor run from February to the playoffs has that parallel from last season as they stunk up BBL buildings until the end of the season. There are some guys that have won cup titles with Alba Berlin like Elmeden Kikanovic, Ismet Akpinar or Akeem Vargas who has two and even Nils Giffey owns one, but he has something else that none of them have. Giffey is only one of 13 players that has ever won two NCAA titles with UConn and with ex ratiopharm Ulm guard Lee Humphrey the only two that have won two and balled in the BBL. Now would be the perfect time for Giffey to remember his title runs with Uconn in 2011 and 2014 with top point guards Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier and let some of that special inspiration carry over to his teammates, because if their play doesn´t drastically change to the better and become more consistent then Alba Berlin could experience back to back sweeps and getting the Munich broom treatment is a lot more bitter than that of Frankfurt.

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The Fraport Skyliners Give Max Merz Retirement Present Win Over Alba Berlin 83-71

Around this time of year the last two seasons, the Fraport Skyliners were feeling that special rush of taking part in the playoffs again after having been idle for three seasons, but this time around the club was already looking forward to next season and off season dealings while the American players were already thinking about the first eatery that they will seek out at home when they land, but before that could happen there was still one last regular season game to play against Alba Berlin. It has been a season to forget for the Fraport Skyliners who were dearly missing Jordan Theodore from last season´s success and just didn´t have that consistent point guard with the killer instinct and after a better second half, were unable to compensate the poor first half of the season and the 3 last minute loses to Ludwigsburg, Bonn and Bayreuth denied them to slip into the playoffs. With one last regular season game before the long summer break, fans wanted to see their favorite players one last time, witness a few more crushing Mike Morrison dunks, a coast to coast sprint and dunk from Quantez Robertson and a lot of playing time for German wonder boy Isaac Bonga who seems to be slated for the back up point guard position next season, but after 40 minutes, it was Max Merz that fans cherished most in the game. Only 29 hours earlier, the German Merz had surprisingly announced his retirement, because of wanting to enter the business world and was playing his last professional game and helped the Fraport Skyliners dispose of 8 time BBL champion Alba Berlin 83-71. The 23 year old Merz played five seasons with the Fraport Skyliners and was one of those players that developed, but at a slow rate. He finished his last game steering 10 points, four rebounds and four steals in 30 minutes and was near tears at the conclusion. After he said his farewell to the fans, he was comforted by teammate Quantez Robertson for 20 seconds as he had to let it all out. After all was said and done, the German was content for his decision. “I thank all the fans and it was an honor to play for them. I don´t want to talk too much, because I will start to cry again. I have a lot of passion for what I studied and I feel that I can be successful there also. My heart will always be with basketball, but I know that I will have fun with my new job and be able to do things there that I wouldn´t have been able to do as a player. I know that I will keep coming into the arena to watch the Skyliners play”, smiled Max Merz. “I didn´t think so much about it being Max Merz´s last game during the game, but in the last seconds, it became more emotional since I did spend 4 years with him”, added Stefan Ilzhoefer.

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Paul Carter (Hyeres-Toulon Var Basket) The D-League Will Make A Man Out Of You Quick Because It’s Truly Sink Or Swim

Paul Carter is a 29 year old 205cm forward from Little Rock, Arkansas playing his sixth professional season and first with Hyeres-Toulon Var Basket. the New Zealand Breakers (Australia-NBL). This season he has already played with three teams starting with ALBA Berlin (Germany-BBL) playing 4 Eurocup: games averaging  4.5ppg, 1.3rpg and playing 8 German BBL  games averaging  2.5ppg, 1.6rpg and then moved to the New Zealand Breakers (Australia-NBL) playing 11 games averaging 9.1ppg, 4.5rpg, 2FGP: 39.5%, 3FGP: 50.0%, FT: 64.3%Last season he played with the Sharks Antibes (France-ProA) playing 33 games: 10.2ppg, 4.9rpg, 1.7apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 39.2%, 3PT: 34.7%, FT: 70.5%. He started his basketball career with Minnesota(NCAA) before moving to  Ill.-Chicago (NCAA) for his final year and played 31 games averaging 14.7ppg, 8.0rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 40.8%, 3PT: 29.9%, FT: 76.7%. He started his professional basketball career in 2011 with  Proteas Danoi AEL (Cyprus-Division A): 4 games: 14.8ppg, in Dec.’11 moved to Utah Jazz (NBA), later that month signed at Idaho Stampede (D-League): 34 games: 11.1ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.6apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 49.5%, 3PT: 42.9%, FT: 79.3%. In the 2012-2013 season he joined the Idaho Stampede (D-League): 9 games: 3.0ppg, 2.7rpg, in Jan.’13 signed at Springfield Armor (D-League): 23 games: 5.5ppg, 3.7rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 40.2%, 3PT: 21.2%, FT: 77.8%. In the 2013-2014 season he played for Elizur Ashkelon (Israel-National League): 8 games: 15.1ppg, 7.5rpg, 1.6apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 49.2%, 3PT: 38.5%, FT: 79.5%. Two seaons ago, he got further experience with Lapuan Korikobrat (Finland-Korisliiga,playing 40 games: Score-2(19.7ppg), Reb-1(12.5rpg), 2.4apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 50.4%, 3PT: 22.6%, FT: 79.8%. He spoke to German Hoopsafter leaving Alba Berlin and going to the New Zealand Breakers.

 

Paul thanks for talking to German Hoops Where are you at the moment and how was your Christmas?

Thank you! I’m Currently in Auckland New Zealand. My Christmas was unusual being that I spent it on a plane. My wife and I left The States Christmas Eve and landed the day after Christmas.

The new year 2017 is slowly coming upon us and you are headed to New Zealand to the Breakers. What personal goals in basketball and as a man do you want to achieve the next year?

I honestly want to help the Breakers get back to the finals and win! As a man I’m hoping to be able to start a family this year!

You had a short stay with Alba Berlin coming in getting a short term contract. Many people didn´t understand why the club got two forwards with you and Tony Gaffney. It was only obvious one player would suffer less minutes.

Yes, it was an interesting situation, one I wasn’t accustomed to for sure. Playing minimal to no minutes was very hard but I learned a lot about myself and the business as well.

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Can Ahmet Caki´s New Enthusiasm Garner Continued Success For Alba Berlin?

For four years for some Alba Berlin fans, there was enough entertainment in the Mercedes Benz arena even during down times during a game when the 8 time champion was in a slump just watching head coach Sasa Obradovic doing his special work out on the sidelines with his hand and body gestures. The three time European champion with Yugoslavia had his own eccentric coaching style and his style definitely got on the nerves of many and didn´t always have an advantageous effect on his players, but in the end when all was said and done, the soft spoken Korac Cup winner of 1995 with Alba Berlin did good deeds in Berlin winning three cups, a Super cup and reached the final in 2014. The Alba Berlin season more or less ended after the 2016 cup win in Munich as the club had reached their peak for the season and after that played uninspired basketball and were swept by the Fraport Skyliners and it was no secret that the days of Obradovic were numbered. Obradovic had to go and his torch was passed on to Turk Ahmet Caki. For many not the big name coach that was expected to come in, but a guy that CEO Marco Baldi had in his notes since 2009. Caki eats, sleeps and breathes basketball since he was 18 and now 23 years later, he can look back at a growing basketball resume that was started in Turkey and now takes him to his first stop outside his home country. He got his first experience with Darussafaka Istanbul as a head coach in 2004 and then coached Erdemirspor Belediyesi and Tofas Bursa. He got his big break midway through the 2014-2015 season as Euroleague club Anadolu Efes Istanbul signed him as an assistant under legendary coach Dusan Ivkovic. As an assistant he won 2 cups and was promoted in April 2016 to head coach as Ivkovic was dismissed and led the team to the Turkish final. As a coach he is the total opposite of Obradovic as he tries to inspire his players instead of  intimidating them and giving them restless nights not knowing if a missed screen or switch will cost them minutes like an Obradovic did. Caki is more calm than Obradovic, but knows when to step it up in the motivation department. He is a guy that can develop players and has inherited a team that doesn´t have the standard type Euroleague players so from his perspective something to look forward to being able to develop talented guys further. Where Obradovic had his focus on the defense, Caki wants to find a healthy balance on offense and defense. It will be another interesting season for Alba Berlin as a new era begins as there will be no more hectic movements on the sidelines from a bald man but is somehow in his own way transporting his desires to his players, but more zeal being transported from a Turk who wants to establish himself with one of Europe´s most historic organizations.

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The Fraport Skyliners Sweep Alba Berlin With A Shade Of Theodore Pink 87-66

For some Skyliner fans it may seem like an eternity since the last time the Fraport Skyliners defeated the mighty 8 time Beko BBL champion Alba Berlin in a five game series, but really it has only been six years ago where they produced the masterpiece that would zoom them into the Beko BBL finals. In that series, the club was led by guys like Mr ballerina Derrick Allen who had a stellar unstoppable game of 26 points to lead the way, but the club also was fortified with players like Dragon Labovic, Jimmy Mckinney and a certain shy city boy from Cincinnati, Ohio Quantez Robertson who had already made waves that season as a BBL slam dunk finalist and top notch defender that he would carry on to this very day. Six years later the Fraport Skyliners were back in their living room having Alba Berlin at the brink of elimination as everyone in the Fraport arena was broom ready and prepared to sweep head coach Sasa Obradovic and his twisted and dangerous looking body movements right out of the arena. In the first two contests, the 2000 Beko BBL cup champion Fraport Skyliners had played near to top notch basketball turning the Alba Berlin at times explosive offensive arsenal into a harmless attack that couldn´t even have scared the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup winner if they had dug out a Wendell Alexis, Marko Pesic and Mithat Demirel in their primes to help find a way to cut apart the annoying Frankfurt defense. Frankfurt held Alba Berlin to 65 points on average in the first two games and have had a sharp control on the dangerous guard duo of Jordan Taylor and Will Cherry in the playoffs like any woman would have to have on Charlie Sheen if she was seeing him. In the 71-65 game two victory in Berlin, the two American guards were held to 10 points combined 2/16 shooting. Frankfurt definitely learned from the first two encounters of the season where both Americans buried Frankfurt for 41 points combined and in the bitter semi-final cup loss in Munich let Jordan Taylor get the last laugh as he hit the game winning bucket. The week started off so excellent for the Fraport Skyliners and just got better and better as Quantez Robertson won the leagues best defensive player, a day later head coach Gordon Herbert was named best coach and nine hours later, Frankfurt was leading the best of five series 2-0 and Jordan Theodore could dream a little about the future where he may follow in the footsteps of his buddy Malcom Delaney who played in the Euroleague Final four on the weekend in Berlin. The perfect ending to the week would have been sending Alba Berlin back home winless in the playoffs and making a sweep party in the Fraport arena on Saturday night. Alba Berlin came back to Frankfurt needing to win as badly as the Fraport Skyliners needs everyone to remain healthy in order to have a legitimate chance of winning the Beko BBL title, but were blown out of the Fraport arena again as the Fraport Skyliners won easily with a shade of Theodore pink 87-66. After the glorious win and countless signed autographs that made the little hearts of kids content and whose eyes were beaming after the brief encounter with Theodore, the American had time to reflect on the win, series and his special shade of pink. “We played a lot more relaxed tonight whereas in game two we were too tight. We clicked on all cylinders moving the ball well and defending the way we know how and just got everything that we wanted. The key in this series was our good defense. We have been playing at a high level on defense all season long. Even when we struggle on offense as we did in game two, we can always rely on our defense. Our defense helps us stay in games when our offense isn´t on. Sweeping Alba Berlin means a lot because they had beat us twice this season. We knew that Alba Berlin would win the cup, because they had beat the best team us. We are on a mission right now. If we play defense and stay together, we will be fine. This was the first time I wore these pink shoes. I like to test a new pair each game. I know that some of the guys were looking strangely at me, but I may wear my strawberry pair in the next game. The pink looked nice on the court, fit well and the girls liked them”, smiled Englewood, New Jersey native Jordan Theodore. The season peak for Alba Berlin was three months ago when they won the cup in Munich, but just didn´t have that fire or self-confidence anymore and were an easy catch for the Fraport Skyliners to devour with ease. “Congrats to the Fraport Skyliers. They played very good basketball. They hit their shots very well in the first half and we didn´t do a good job using the mismatches. We never got into any kind of real game rhythm and did too much one on one play. We didn´t have the self-confidence or kick today”, stressed two time NCAA champion with Uconn Nils Giffey. “I don´t mind the pink shoes of Jordan, but it isn´t my style. But he has earned the right to wear whatever he wants to”, smiled Mr Canada Phillip Scrubb.

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The Fraport Skyliners Crush Alba Berlin 83-64 to take 1-0 Playoff Lead

The few days after the Fraport Skyliners had won the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup title in Chalon France over Italian team Varese last weekend, the club had numerous appointments and honors to accept while savoring the moment. The biggest honor was being able to step out on the slim balcony at city hall in Frankfurt and see the sea of fans down below cheering on the team. Following official business where each player was able to sign the golden book, the team then went into the basement and celebrated with the fans with the beautiful silver Fiba Europe cup sitting on a small table for each person that wanted to to get a photo. Even if head coach Gordon Herbert seemed relaxed during the party with the fans, you knew that as much as he allowed his players to indulge in this big moment of being only the fourth team in the history of German basketball to have won an international club tournament, he was also thinking ahead to the weekend where the Beko BBl playoffs were to start. How often Herbert questioned in his mind during the two days of celebrating if his team could get back down in time of the playoffs was unknown, but knowing the immense competitive and perfectionist mindset, he must have been playing mind games with every type of scenario that could face him in game one. One guy who was as happy as a kid that just cleaned out a candy store after icing the title in Chalon was Englewood, New Jersey native Jordan Theodore who definitely showed after the final win that he has had his share of party experiences back home. However two days after the win, one could sense that he was getting itchy to get back on the court and take care of the next order of business the playoffs. With Frankfurt having had extra days to party, it was Alba Berlin that took part in a special training camp and still had that loss in Berlin on their minds a few weeks ago. The intense playoff rivalry that Berlin and Frankfurt took center stage as Alba Berlin won the last playoff battle in 2011 winning in 5 games in Frankfurt, but this season´s series had an extra appetizer with the duel of the two Jordan´s. Both Jordan Theodore and Jordan Taylor who belong to the top point guards in the Beko BBL as the latter had a 2-1 record head to head this season, but the Taylor still had semi bragging rights over Theodore as he had won the last minute shooting battle in the cup semi-final in Munich propelling Alba Berlin to the final while Frankfurt had to wait for that next opportunity while Theodore got him back a few weeks ago in Berlin with a 80-63 win to even the head to head battle at 2-1. In their fourth head to head meeting, it was Theodore that got the best of Taylor as he led the Fraport Skyliners with 19 points past Alba Berlin 83-64 as Alba Berlin and Taylor had massive difficulty all night long coming to terms with the Frankfurt aggressive defense. Important for the Fraport Skyliners was that the club was able to get down from their Fiba Europe Cup title and get back to business with the Mission Beko BBL title 2016. “We got revenge on Alba Berlin a few weeks ago, but Taylor has the cup trophy. Coach preached this week that we have to stay professional. The last thing that we wanted to do was serve up an egg in game one. We had fun for two days and on Wednesday we were focused at the task at hand. We knew that it would be a tough game. Alba Berlin is a gritty team that plays physical, gets rebounds and loose balls. We were ready for them and left it all on the court. I was focused 100% and since it´s my first playoffs, I want to show the people that I can play. Every guy contributed and when we play as a collective unit then we are hard to beat”, stressed Fraport Skyliners guard Jordan Theodore. Alba Berlin will have to go back to the drawing board, because if they don´t find a way to score more consistently then their summer could already start next weekend. “Frankfurt hit a lot of shots and there wasn´t a lot that we could do. We didn´t get consistent stops on defense. They wanted it more than we did”, stressed Alba Berlin guard Rob Lowery.

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