What's up world?!?
It's me, Luke Sikma, your favorite ALBA Berlin big man (sorry Dennis), EuroCup blogger and Netflix enthusiast. I'm back for another season of blogs chock full of behind-the-scenes insight and award-winning journalism covering the 2018-19 ALBA Berlin basketball season. Not gonna lie, I was pretty surprised when my man Javi reached out to me asking me to do this again. It seems that, you (the fans) found my rambling posts and shaky command of the English language just entertaining enough for the people over at EuroCup headquarters to green-light Season 2! Let's do this thang!
Disclaimer for new readers: This blog will include, but is not limited to, the hoop happenings of ALBA Berlin, its team members, and anything else the author (me) feels like writing about. Proceed at your own risk.
All that being said, I think it's best I first catch you up on all that has happened since my last blog...
"The minute I touched down in Berlin I was pumped to get back to work and see what we had to work with this season."
EuroCup: After qualifying for the Top 16, we ended up in a tough group with Galatasaray, Gran Canaria, and the eventual EuroCup champs, Darrussafaka. To make matters worse, we suffered some injuries to some key guys and just weren't able to get enough wins, finishing with a 2-4 record and failing to qualify for the quarterfinals. Definitely a disappointing early finish to our EuroCup season. Womp womp.
BBL: Things went much better in the German League. We lost in the Cup final to Bayern Munich in a close, up-and-down game. In the regular season, we maintained our second place seed the rest of the season (behind Munich), and made it to the finals after beating Oldenburg 3-2 and Ludwisburg 3-0. Our finals opponents was (surprise surprise) Bayern Munich, and we ended up losing in the fifth and final game on their home court in what was a physical, hard-fought series. They proved they were the better team and deservedly won the title. But I was extremely proud of our guys, especially considering how much we'd grown and improved throughout our short time together. But coming so close and losing still sucked...
Summer: Our long, hard season was rewarded with an inversely short six-week summer. Not complaining, its just part of the job knowing that the farther you advance in the playoffs, the more you cut into your summer vacation. And seeing how we made it to the last possible finals game, it meant the shortest possible summer. As always, I spent my summer back home in Seattle. I was able to relax with friends and family, be the Best Man at my best friend's wedding, and get my golf handicap down to single digits for the first time ever(#humblebrag).
Before I knew it though I was back at the airport, bags packed, headed to Berlin for my second season in Germany. As always, I was bummed to have to say goodbye to my friends and family back home after such a short time, but the minute I touched down in Berlin I was pumped to get back to work and see what we had to work with this season.
The summer saw us lose four guys from the previous season (Spencer, Marius, Boggy, and Akeem) and bring on four new ones (Martin, JT, Rokas, and Kenny). We'll get to know the new guys a little better in some later blog posts, but I'll just say it became clear pretty early that the new guys were gonna have no trouble fitting in with our motley crew on the court and, equally as important, off of it.
The preseason was, in a word, disappointing. The new FIBA window that occurred smack dab in the middle of September meant that we had at times up to four guys away with their national teams, which, when added to the three guys who were recovering from injuries, meant that a lot of times we were practicing/playing with only four players who would be seeing rotation minutes during the year. The rest were junior players, and even though they did a great a job filling in, its just not the ideal situation for getting a team prepared for a long season. All that being said, we were still able to win four times(!!!) as many games as last year's preseason. (Side note: We won one game last preseason)
"Who knew laser tag was great preparation for a basketball game?!"
The start of the season wasn't going to wait for us though, and we finally got most of the guys back for the last week of September and the start of the BBL and EuroCup seasons, After roughly one month of the season, things are looking good. We're 4-0 in the BBL and 3-1 in the EuroCup, so it's been a good start for us, but there's a looooot of season left to play, so we've got to just stay focused on improving every day and not think about anything but the next game.
On a non-basketball note, we recently had a long five-day road trip where we first played in Limoges, France, then a couple days later in Ulm, Germany. As all professional hoopers know, long road trips=lots of free time. Normally this time would be spent sitting in our hotel rooms watching Netflix and endlessly refreshing our various social media platforms every two minutes. However, our captain, Niels, came up with the great idea of a team laser tag outing one afternoon in Ulm to break the monotony of hotel life.
Needless to say, the guys were juiced. None of us really considered ourselves experienced laser taggers, so we were all interested to see which one of us would be at the top of the leaderboard at the end. Would it be one of the smaller, quicker guys who were hard to hit? Or maybe one of our shooters was also a marksman in the laser tag arena as well? Turns out, the clear winner of the day was Johannes Thiemann, aka JT. He was a mix between like, The Terminator and a Navy Seal. He was unstoppable. While everyone else was running around like chickens with their heads cut off, JT was ruthlessly picking dudes off left and right. It was clear, JT was the laser tag king of ALBA Berlin. The best part of the experience though? We got the road dub the next day. Who knew laser tag was great preparation for a basketball game?!
I think that'll wrap things up for blog numero uno for this '18-19 season. Stay tuned for the next edition!!