The new suit makes Alba Berlin look good

Berlin. The game in Oldenburg is on the brink. The hosts fought their way up after being 20 points behind and defend doggedly. 40 seconds left, Alba Berlin cannot find a good throwing position, the shot clock is ticking down mercilessly. Somehow, basketball ends up with Simone Fontecchio. Almost falling backwards, the Italian pulls the trigger at the last second, from the corner. He hits, four points ahead for his team, lid on. Go-to-guy Fontecchio scored 16 points on Sunday, only missing the basket once in ten attempts, from the free-throw line of all places.

Alba Berlin still has to do without Siva and Olinde against Asvel

Alba wins 89:86. This is not only, but certainly not least due to the new players that the defending champion has in his ranks. The five of them were signed in the summer because, among others, top performers such as Martin Hermannsson, Landry Nnoko or Rokas Giedraitis moved to other Euroleague clubs where they earn better. Alba was prepared, brought Fontecchio (Reggio Emilia / 24), Maodo Lo (Bayern Munich / 27), Jayson Granger (Baskonia Vitoria / 31), Ben Lammers (Bilbao Basket / 25) and Louis Olinde (22 / Bamberg) to Berlin.

Granger scored 14 points in Oldenburg, distributed seven assists. Lo still has a lousy throw rate, but the native Berlin also helps with seven basket assists. With their calm structure, these two prevent it from not being noticed that the first playmaker Peyton Siva is still watching because of the consequences of his corona infection. The American will be absent against Asvel Villeurbanne in the Mercedes-Benz Arena this Wednesday (8 p.m., Magentasport), just like the injured Olinde.

Many problems for Alba after a difficult start

Every coach in the world, including Albas Senor Aito Garcia Reneses, would have wished for a season preparation with many friendly games and lots of healthy players with such a newly formed team. In reality, there were only half a dozen tests because of Corona, Fontecchio and Lammers missed most of them because they were injured. Then came the difficult start to the season, with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Bayern Munich, Anadolou Istanbul. Not exactly opponents to warm up to. Then it got even worse, six professionals infected with Corona, two weeks training break. It is a small miracle how Alba has so far pulled out of the affair, at least nationally. In spite of everything.

The new ones had to work right away, and they did better than expected. Fontecchio made an appearance on his debut in Tel Aviv that amazed: 16 points, eight rebounds, best Berliner. “Simone helped us from the start,” praised sports director Himar Ojeda. The extremely athletic Italian is practically the successor to Giedraitis and has so far fulfilled this role excellently. Ojeda would have signed him last season if the Lithuanian had accepted one of the numerous offers that came before him. Giedraitis stayed in Berlin, Fontecchio was able to gain practice in Reggio Emilia for a year. Now it hit Berlin all the better.

The expectations of Maodo Lo are particularly high

Alba managing director Marco Baldi points out that the pressure on Lo is particularly great. “Everyone has great expectations of him, not least himself,” says the manager, “that is definitely different from Simone.” Achilles tendon tear) initially met with skepticism. These voices have now become quieter. “It’s easier for Jayson and Maodo,” explains Ojeda, “they know everything, they know the Euroleague.” Lo after four years in Munich and Bamberg, Granger even after six years in Malaga, Istanbul and Vitoria.

It’s different with Ben Lammers, everything is new to him, the city, the high-class competition, the Alba system, his colleagues, the club. “It is certainly the hardest for him,” believes Baldi, “but you can also see a clear development in him. He always has more courage. And he doesn’t even know all of his possibilities. ”Ojeda says that the rather shy American is doing well to be able to compete against German teams now. Starting as a new center in the Euroleague – that was a Herculean task. Nevertheless, Lammers is already one of the three best shot blockers in Europe.

Alba is used to developing players

Alba doesn’t know anything else than developing promising players. The Berliners can only sign people where the rich and famous of the Euroleague still shy away. Does the player really have the potential (Fontecchio, Lammers)? Is he really in top shape (Granger)? Real Madrid or CSKA Moscow prefer to bring seasoned, ready-made players, apparently without risk. Nevertheless, Alba is not without a chance in this competition through a clever selection. The reward for Giedraitis, Nnoko, Hermannsson: You have recommended yourself here for higher tasks.

“We would already have a completely different picture if we had had continuity in preparation and at the beginning of the season”, Baldi is certain. The process of acclimatization and integration is greatly slowed down. Fortunately, most of the titles are still awarded at the end of the season rather than the beginning.

Read more about Alba Berlin here.




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