What a difference a half makes as ALBA Berlin showed, going from a team struggling to score and facing a 0-3 start to the season to racing past one of the top teams in Europe - all the while getting their “mojo back” according to one of the team’s new talents.
ALBA trailed 27-35 after 20 minutes against Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul but exploded in the second half to win 84-70. The two-time reigning German champs scored 30 points in the third quarter and added another 27 in the final frame.
"It was the desire of the players. It was unbelievable. They were tired but they came here with a lot of desire to play against a great team like Fenerbahce. We showed a different team on offense in the second half,” said ALBA head coach Israel Gonzalez, who picked up his first victory as the team’s play-caller. “They believed in themselves and played with conviction on offense. The aggressiveness was much better in the second half.”
While Luke Sikma was rock solid throughout for ALBA, one of the breakout stars of the game was Oscar da Silva, who was only playing his second EuroLeague game after coming over to the team from MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg on a three-year contract.
"It was great. It was a lot of fun,” said the 23-year-old, who tallied a team-high 22 points to go with 5 rebounds and 2 steals. “I think we got our mojo back a little today.”
Maodo Lo was certainly representative of the tale of two halves. Just a few days after he tied his career-high in points with 22 against LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne, Lo failed to score a single point in the first half against Fenerbahce. The explosive guard caught fire and drained 4 three-pointers in scoring 21 points and also ended with 5 assists.
"We just came out [in the second half] with a little more aggressiveness and more confidence on offense,” said Lo. “We were tight. We just tried to play a little more loose, have confidence in the things we do and be aggressive. And it worked. We were able to do a good job in the beginning of the second half. That gave us confidence and momentum and we took that and just kept on going.”
But it wasn’t all offense in the second half. ALBA frustrated the Fenerbahce offense. The guests had committed only 5 turnovers in the first 20 minutes. But Sasa Djordjevic’s team lost the ball 12 times in the second half.
"I still cannot explain how we played in the second half. We didn’t show up. We had a very good first half defensively. We missed some shots that we created but we just didn’t show up to play basketball,” the Fenerbahce coach said. “This is something that I cannot explain right now.”
Maybe it was just a matter of running into a team that has finally found its mojo.