Future Stars caught up with Head Coach of Alba Berlin, Sasa Obradovic to discuss their ups and downs of their campaign in Top 16. Despite winning just 2 games in Top 16, which happened to be against their fellow country men from Brose Basket, coach Obradovic sees a lot positive aspects of their season in Europe.
FS: Let’s start from your assessment of top 16, obviously it was a tremendous success that you qualified there, but after that you have only won two games against other German teams, so was this a step too far or very good experience for you?
SO: From the very beginning we knew that every win for us was a success in the top 16, The fact that we only beat Bamberg doesn’t make any difference as these are all strong teams full of top players and coaches with a lot of experience to play at this level.
FS: You were very close to beating Real Madrid and Anadolu and only lost by 2 to Unicaja
SO: All these results make me happy in the way that when facing these teams we never backed off and played till the end with a chance of winning. I hope that this is the start towards a future when the difference between high rated Euroleague teams and German teams will not be so big as in previous years. For me personally qualifying to top 16 was reaching one of our goals that was set before the season. Playing against top Euroleague teams is a great thing. It was hard playing against teams in both the German league and Euroleague with games coming fast and sometimes two hard games back to back on the road. Because of this schedule a couple of times we had four games in one week, which is tough. We couldn’t perform in the German league as well as we should due to this punishing schedule which led to a couple of unplanned losses. The Euroleague schedule this season has cost us a lot. Having said so it also taught us a lot and being together in such tough times improved the chemistry of the team which was clearly visible and paid dividends when we won the German Cup.
FS: Talk to us briefly about your future, what is the way forward for clubs like Alba to be able to take the next step forward?
SO: You have to have a continuity of work and results, and a stable sponsor like Alba had for four years. This will allow for more quality players which will provide support which is much needed especially at the end of a punishing season of German and Euroleague fixtures. We need to invest in German players, bringing German players in and give them a chance when planning the next generation of players. It is important that the managers have a plan to bring stability to the whole situation.
FS: Who do you think is going to win this years Euroleague, Is it going to be the usual names or do you think there will be any surprises this year?
SO: This is difficult, it is really hard to predict this, it depends on many things. There are the traditionally strong teams CSKA, Barcelona, however I think there is not going to be a clear favourite, even Real Madrid is even is a down phase, I would expect them to come back and play better, but even they have a problem with the schedule. There is also Panathinaikos who have also been up and down but have finished strongly and have now had more time to prepare and rejuvenate which will help then physically when it counts the most. There are a lot of teams for me who have equal chance to be there.
Photographs courtesy of Alba Berlin