With fans at the EuroLeague game against Berlin
After six nights "on the road", the Bayern basketball players have once again enjoyed the benefits of their own beds: "I was just happy to be back," reported national player Andreas Obst before Thursday's training. The program now continues this weekend with two home games, which are appealing from many points of view: On the one hand, in the EuroLeague derby on Friday evening against Alba Berlin (20:30) and on Sunday in the southern rivalry game against Medi Bayreuth (18:00), up to 1,625 fans will finally have the opportunity to support their team in the Audi Dome again.
"We are all super happy that fans can finally be fans at the Audi Dome again," said Bayern head coach Andrea Trinchieri. "Alba is the reigning German champion and presents itself very well again this year with its leading players Sikma and Lo. Their system has proven itself and we'll have to be at our best in this game to defeat them."
Is the Munich defense strong again?
Trinchieri's side has a chance against Berlin to even their record at 11-11 after two away victories at Baskonia and Villeurbanne. The visitors are 16th in the standings with six wins in 20 games. The Bavarians won the previous four meetings in the EuroLeague, most recently the first matchup at the end of October in Berlin 82-69. This is the 62nd duel between the two top German teams (European Cup, BBL and Cup), the FCBB has so far won 37 times with one draw (EuroCup) and 23 losses.
Like Bayern, the Berliners have had to deal with illness and injuries during the season, and the team is just back after recent quarantine issues. Last Tuesday, they lost 87-78 in a contested catch-up game in Tel Aviv, and on the Sunday before that, somewhat surprisingly, at home in the BBL against Ludwigsburg (76-75). Most recently, shooter Marcus Eriksson (12.5 ppg) was missing due to a foot injury, while the Munich team still has to do without top scorer Darrun Hilliard (15.8 ppg), national team player Paul Zipser and captain Nihad Djedovic. Playmaker Corey Walden (10.1 ppg), who suffered an early ankle injury in Villeurbanne, is also uncertain.
Munich's defense worked at a high level in the most recent four "must-win" games in just ten days. Only Bonn made it over the 80-point mark in the end (100-81), Baskonia (84-77), Heidelberg (92-70) and on Tuesday Villeurbanne (77-68) did not manage the feat. In the EuroLeague, the Bavarians allow their opponents an average of 75.5 points, Alba 81.9 - defense is likely to play a big role, as is often the case, with Berlin's offensive rebounding (10 Orpg) likely also playing a role.
The center guards in top form
The long "guards" of Munich currently are playing their best ball as the center duo Augustine Rubit (34 points, 18 rebounds) and Othello Hunter (25/11) made significant contributions against Baskonia and Asvel. On the opposite side, captain Luke Sikma (10.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg) is sure to be an antagonist again from Berlin's very balanced squad, as is former Bayern guard Maodo Lo, who is having a strong season with 13.3 points (46% threes) and 3.4 assists.
"We obviously have more confidence and energy after the last few wins, you can see that in the locker room and it feels good," said in-form U.S. center "Aug" Rubit. "We want to win the next game as always, but Berlin is certainly special. They have their own style and players like Luke and Maodo that we have to control. The fact that we finally have our fans back, which we definitely missed in some disappointing home games, is great. Away we always had spectators in the hall, after all, and we're happy now to have ours back with their energy."