Three more matches in the main round: Alba Berlin switches to play-off mode – sports

After a glamorous victory with 40 points, it is not so easy to find a great potential for improvement, but Luke Sikma does not have to think about it. “Of course there are things we still have to work on. We are perfectionists!” says the captain of Alba Berlin, who has just won nine games in a row with his basketball team. With a home win on Wednesday (19.00, Magentasport) against relegated Gießen, the defending champion can climb to the top of the table for the first time this season. no more major mishaps, Alba will start the quarter-finals on Friday next week as the first in the main round.A reason for satisfaction and joy, but it should be noted that the Berliners are already slowly switching to play-off mode.

Johannes Thiemann can also notice this. The 28-year-old national player knows, of course, that his team has the best chances of getting first in the main round, but he does not bother with that kind of table game. “We approach the matches in the same way as always,” says Thiemann, setting the direction for the last three matches in the light of the current winning streak: “We will make nine to twelve.”

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With the playoffs in sight, it would only be humane to take it easy at the end of the main round, especially if first place should already be secure. After all, no one wants to get hurt or waste too much energy just before the most important phase of the year. But the professionals in Berlin certainly want to resist this impulse. “We should not switch off now and say that we are only concentrating on the playoffs,” warns Malte Delow. “There is no switch that you can just turn and you are back to 100 percent in an instant. We have to keep the rhythm.”

Rhythm, momentum, running, focus – these are the key words when talking to Alba players these days. As in previous years, it seems that the Berliners must once again succeed in reaching the finals in top form on time. “I’m very happy with the way we play,” says even the perfectionist Sikma.

There are two main reasons why Alba is so enthusiastic and successful at the moment: the physical condition of the team and the accomplished integration of the additions from last summer. In the past, it has been seen time and time again that most new players need several months to find their way around the fast and creative Berlin basketball. “The system is complex and you have to be patient,” says Thiemann. “But it also makes us so strong in the back when everyone has internalized the system and the roles are clearly distributed.” This progress has been seen with Jaleen Smith for some time, with Yovel Zoosman and Tamir Blatt the performance curve has gone up in recent weeks straight up.

Physically, Alba benefits from the end of the Euroleague’s double burden and the much more relaxed injury situation. Marcus Eriksson is still unable to predict due to his persistent foot problems, but at least for Tim Schneider everything is going according to plan. After his meniscus surgery, he is now in the process of running training again, and if it goes well, he can start with light basketball-specific exercises in a week. After four or five players were out at the same time in the autumn and winter due to injuries or Corona, coach Israel Gonzalez now has enough alternatives to distribute the load evenly – and you can see that.

Alba plays Alba basketball again

Gone are the days when Alba fought his way through a Bundesliga match two days after a strenuous Euroleague trip. Due to the high individual quality, the Berliners won many matches even in these difficult months, but now the classic Alba style can be seen again. “If we play well, it also makes it a lot easier physically,” Sikma says. “Then we let the ball run and it’s not all up to one player.”

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The Berliners also benefit from their deep squad, which can already be seen from the statistics. While many BBL teams rely on one or two excellent players, Alba is very balanced. While no Berliner appeared serious in the discussions about the league’s individual awards, Sikma, MVP for the 2017/18 season. get over it. “We have a very altruistic group and another comes to the fore every day,” says the 32-year-old.

But with his vast experience, Sikma also knows that it will probably not go so smoothly until the end of the season. “Playoff basketball is a whole other thing,” says Alba’s captain. “And our work is far from done.”

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