Alba’s 2.21 m center Koumadje has developed from a tactical opportunity to a top player. He will finish the main round in first place.
There are few movements in basketball that require more precision, timing and coordination than alley-oop. A guard usually passes a teammate who is already on his way to the basket, catches the ball in the air and lowers it directly.
If this feat succeeds, the audience will freak out and a spot in the highlights of the match day is almost guaranteed. But as soon as the pass comes a little too imprecise, too soon or too late, the approaching player can hardly control it. Usually. At Alba Berlin, it often gives the impression that you just have to somehow throw the ball in the direction of the basket – Christ Koumadje cleans up.
With its 2.21 meters, long arms and athletics, the center from Chad has an unparalleled reach in the basketball league. But the 25-year-old is not only a highlight machine, but now also a very important component in Alba’s successful team.
In the BBL, the Berliners have won the last seven matches and are in second place after Baskets Bonn with three matches to catch up. No one has suffered less defeat than Alba, and this Wednesday (19.00, Magentasport) the race to catch up on the neglected should continue in the home game against the Hamburg Towers. “We will finish the main round strong and still come in first place,” said Koumadje.
Koumadje justifies Alba’s hopes
At least since the beginning of the Spanish wave with sports director Himar Ojeda, coach Aito Garcia Reneses and his longtime assistant and later successor Israel Gonzalez, Alba has placed particular emphasis on player development.
With a rather low budget compared to other European countries, Berliners cannot afford to hire mature professionals with experience at the highest level. To do this, they are always looking for players with special abilities who could not exploit their potential in their previous clubs. Like Koumaje.
[Wenn Sie aktuelle Nachrichten aus Berlin, Deutschland und der Welt live auf Ihr Handy haben wollen, empfehlen wir Ihnen unsere App, die Sie hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen können.]
When the center signed a contract with Alba in February 2021 until 2023, he had just completed two short and unsuccessful stays with Estudiantes Madrid and Avtodor Saratov. The Berliners saw him as a project, a man who first came to basketball as a 15-year-old and therefore still has great development potential.
Meanwhile, Koumadje justifies these hopes. “Christ worked a lot on himself last summer. He was unlucky with injuries at the start of the season, but he has improved a lot, says coach Israel Gonzalez. Koumadje is very smart and has unique coordination for its size.
The operating hours for Koumadje are now significantly longer
In his early days in Berlin, Alba always switched to zone defense with Koumadje on the field. The center could stay close to the basket, complicating the opponents’ throws and did not get into the situation that they had to defend significantly smaller and faster players.
[Mehr guten Sport aus lokaler Sicht finden Sie – wie auch Politik und Kultur – in unseren Leute-Newslettern aus den zwölf Berliner Bezirken. Hier kostenlos zu bestellen: leute.tagesspiegel.de]
“In the beginning, it was a good tactic by the coaches, so I could get used to the team. But always defending yourself in the zone is not something you can do in the long run, ”says Koumadje. It is now so well integrated that the coaches no longer have to adapt the system to it.
This also has a positive effect on his statistics. While last season he often only came on the field for a few minutes to throw opponents off course or to take advantage of a size advantage, his playing times are now significantly longer. In the current winning streak, he was always on the floor for at least 15 minutes, convincing Friday against Bamberg with a double-double (14 points, eleven rebounds).
After that, the team had two days off. “It was important, now we are all physically and mentally healthier,” says Koumadje. So the next alley-oop can come.